Students stay home as schools clarify shutdown rules

Victorian schools will remain open this week for vulnerable children and for those whose parents work in essential services, despite the state government's decision to end the first term on Monday.

The Education Department has clarified that the early end to the school term would not apply to all students, with up to 30 per cent of teachers and staff working on-site for those who need supervision.

The clarification comes as attendance data from one prominent school management system indicates 45 per cent of students in Australia were not at school on Monday.

Not all Victorian schools closed on Monday, despite the Andrews government’s decision to end term one early. Credit:AAP

Students in out-of-home care, deemed by child protection to be at risk of harm, or identified by the school as vulnerable, will also be able to go to school.

"There is no obligation for students who are children of essential workers or students who are vulnerable to attend school this week," Dr Howes said in a note to schools. "However, we do have an obligation to ensure we provide a care and supervision program for these students if it is needed."

Children in primary school will be kept to a maximum of 10 per room.

Pressure on the Morrison government to close schools is growing.

The union for private school teachers has called for the rest of Australia to follow Victoria’s lead and close all schools immediately.

The Independent Education Union of Australia said it was impossible for schools to fulfil their workplace health and safety obligations to their employees and to students.

The union, which represents more than 75,000 teachers in independent and Catholic schools, said it was time for "an immediate nation-wide end of term for all school students".

"Employees with underlying health conditions, those who are pregnant and those who provide care for elderly relatives within their own household should, with immediate effect, be permitted to work from home or granted ex gratia leave," federal union secretary Chris Watt said.

Victoria and the ACT are the only states or territories to change their term dates, although NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday that parents who can keep their children home should do so.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said children should still go to school.

Mr Watt said it was time to start an orderly transition to emergency schooling arrangements, including support and protocols for online and remote learning.

"It’s time to call time on term one now," he said.

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