Outdoor learning encouraged as SA education department rules out air purifiers for back to school

Most students in South Australia will start the school year at home, but things will look very different even when they return to class.

A day after confirming that most Year Levels would start the year with a fortnight of ‘home learning’, the South African government has provided more details on its ‘hybrid model’ of schooling.

Masks will be mandatory for adults, including teachers, and strongly recommended for students in grades 3 and up.

Outdoor learning will be encouraged “where appropriate”.

‘Non-essential’ visitors, including parents and volunteers, will be restricted, however, Education Minister John Gardner said ‘appropriate arrangements’ would be made for parents on the first day of school to preschool and reception students.

Interscholastic sports, assemblies, choir, camps and field trips will be postponed for the first three weeks of the term.

When a student in class tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to stay home.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the student’s teacher and classmates could continue in class, but all must quarantine as ‘close contacts’ when they are not inside the class.

“The other children will be strongly encouraged to go to school, but I can understand if the parents decide not to have them there during this time.”

There is no indication yet whether close classroom contacts of a case will be able to attend after-hours care or other activities on school campuses.

Air purifiers banned from South African schools

The Department of Education has announced that it will not install air purifiers in public schools, despite calls from experts and the opposition to implement them.

“Opening doors and opening windows is much more effective than having air purifiers,” Professor Spurrier said.

The decision is also at odds with the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, which have ordered units for use in certain school settings.

The ministry said it commissioned an “independent trial which identified that air purifiers do not significantly reduce the amount of CO2 in educational spaces and provide only minimal improvement in air quality” .

Nicola Spurrier stands at a lectern, facing cameras and media equipment filming her in the foreground
Professor Spurrier said good ventilation is “much more important” than air purifiers.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

“As a result, we have made the decision not to deploy air purifiers in every classroom, staff room and learning space across the state,” a statement read.

“SA Health’s guidance supports the department’s position and confirms that natural ventilation is most effective.”

The department said its decision was “in line with other states and territories”, however, the governments of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales have committed to installing air purifiers in schools.

Classes start February 2

As announced on Thursday, official classes will begin on February 2, with students in Years 2-6 and 9-11 learning from home for a fortnight.

Schools will be open from January 31, but only for the children of “essential workers” and vulnerable pupils.

Mr. Gardner said it would be up to the parents to determine that definition.

“If a parent needs to report effectively to their workplace and is unable to provide a safe environment for their child to be at home, supervision will be available for them at school,” he said. he declares.

“Now we hope that parents will respond reasonably to this, as they have throughout the pandemic.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the disruption to learning was disappointing but necessary.

“I don’t like doing that. I would much rather have every student come back on January 31,” he said.

“But the information we have received is very convincing.”

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