Back to school: Attendance now compulsory for WA students

All Western Australian school students will be required to return to school from Monday, May 18, the state government has announced.

Premier Mark McGowan and education and training minister Sue Ellery announced the return to normal school operations on Thursday.

Should students remain away without good reason, they will no longer be provided with learning packages and their absence will be marked as unauthorised.

There are exceptions for students who are medically vulnerable or those who have a family member with chronic health issues.

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These students will be assessed and can continue to learn from home and will be supported by their schools and the Department of Education.

Premier McGowan described the return to school as "great news".

"Once again Western Australia is leading the way when it comes to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, and this is great news for WA students and the general WA community," he said.

"I acknowledge it has been a challenging time for many, and I thank all Western Australian students, parents and teachers for their efforts to get us to this point.

"We are now in a position where Western Australian parents can feel confident that schools are a safe place for their children, with a rigorous cleaning regime and other additional protections in place."

Mark McGowan announced the return to school on Thursday. Photo: File image.

Mark McGowan announced the return to school on Thursday. Photo: File image.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advises of a "relatively low" risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.

Additional measures, such as the $43 million investment in extra cleaning at public schools, will continue to reduce the risk further.

Ahead of Term 2, the WA chief health officer provided advice that schools were safe for face-to-face learning.

Up to 20 additional teachers will be employed to support students who have been medically referred to learn from home and up to 36 additional staff will be employed to help students who need additional support to re-engage with their school.

Teachers and school staff who are aged over 70 and those aged over 65 with a health condition, are advised to seek medical advice before returning to work.

Drop off and pick up arrangements that restrict parents and carers, and non-essential visitors, from entering school grounds remain in place.

Whole school assemblies, camps and interschool activities will still not be permitted.

Students in residential facilities will now be permitted to return home at weekends at the discretion of the principal or residential manager.

The health advice remains that visits home should be reduced.

For Year 12 students, the 2020 ATAR course written exams will go ahead as scheduled from November 2.

Written examinations will take the same form as previous years, with a three-hour duration.

For Year 9 students who were unable to sit the NAPLAN this year due to COVID-19, more flexibility will be introduced into the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA).

This will give Year 9 students the opportunity to demonstrate the literacy and numeracy standards required to achieve the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

Teachers will be required to report to parents with information about students' learning progress to date in semester one but they will not be required to assign an A-E grade.

Teachers will continue to provide informal feedback to parents and carers throughout the semester as required.

These changes recognise the impact of COVID-19 on teaching in Western Australia, and provides parents and carers with reliable information regarding student progress.

Strict environmental cleaning throughout the school day, including high-touch surfaces and playground equipment, will continue as will reinforced hygiene measures.