Students attending regional residential and agricultural colleges are still waiting for advice from the State Government on a return date as all other schools commence today, according to The Nationals WA.
Leader Mia Davies said while thousands of children return to classrooms across the State this morning following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, many in regional WA remain in limbo.
“The Minister for Education announced nearly two weeks ago that public schools were opening today, yet we have concerned parents of boarders at agricultural colleges and residential colleges calling us wanting to know what’s going on,” Ms Davies said.
“The Nationals wrote to the Education Minister last Friday and have been in contact with her office yet we are none the wiser as to what the plan is for these students.
“This is particularly the case for year 11 and 12 students from farming or remote communities with slow or no access to internet and will struggle with an online curriculum.”
Ms Davies said there are five WA College of Agricultural facilities located in Cunderdin, Denmark, Harvey, Morawa and Narrogin, as well as Esperance Senior High School Farm Training Centre, which have residential boarding facilities on site.
“Students at the colleges learn from on-the job training and need to access agricultural infrastructure and trade sheds. Online and physical packs are not suitable alternatives,” she said.
The Nationals WA education spokesperson Peter Rundle said parents of regional residential college and boarding school students were frustrated by the lack of direction from the Education Minister.
“As these students live in remote areas across WA they have to attend the boarding colleges to learn in a suitable environment – they just don’t have the alternatives enjoyed in the metropolitan area,” he said.
“In an ideal world, we could have live streamed classes but many students face poor and intermittent connectivity, which puts them at an unfair disadvantage.
“With many farming families also involved in seeding at this time, there isn’t the opportunity to have the children taught at home so it is imperative the State Government makes arrangements for them to return to their schools as soon as possible.
“Our regional families deserve some communication.”