Cairo Cowan, 11, with brother Oliver, 9, mum Amy and sister Rivah, 3. Picture: Melanie Whiting
Cairo Cowan, 11, with brother Oliver, 9, mum Amy and sister Rivah, 3. Picture: Melanie Whiting

Schools move a win but confusion over essential workers

THE reopening of Queensland schools for Term 2 has been met with some confusion from Mackay parents.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed schools will be open for the beginning of Term 2 but only for children of essential workers and vulnerable kids.

She said this would be reviewed on May 22.

But the announcement has raised more questions for North Mackay's Cowan family.

Mum Amy Cowan works in aged care and is considered an essential worker, while her husband works from home.

But his work sometimes requires him to be called out to jobs.

"Even though he's working from home, sometimes he isn't," Mrs Cowan said.

"We may possibly be considered essential enough to send our kids to school, but if not, it's going to be hard for us to work around."

Mrs Cowan said it would be easier for her family if her two school-aged children, Cairo, 11, and Oliver, 9, went back to school for the entire term.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

" I feel personally, my children would benefit from being at school," she said.

"This is affecting the kids more than anyone.

"My son is in Year Six in a leadership role and he is already starting to accept that maybe he won't experience this year at school."

Ms Palaszczuk said while it was a difficult decision, she believed it was the right one for Queensland in continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the State Government's announcement was a good balance for both families and teachers.

"This allows us as a community to continue social distancing to make sure we stay safe and keep up the good work with identified cases," Mrs Gilbert said.

"It's going to keep families safe and it's going to keep students safe."

However, the Opposition warned the move would send mixed signals to parents.

LNP education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie feared the State Government's decision would create a two-class system.

"We can't have a system where those kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are left behind because they can't go to school and can't access the internet," Mr Bleijie said.

But Mrs Gilbert said state schools across Queensland would be able to adapt to the different needs of families and children.

"I have all the confidence in our state school teachers that they will be able to provide for all of their students," she said.

Education Minister Grace Grace said schools and teachers will continue to be the primary point of contact for students and parents and will set the curriculum, teaching and learning programs.