HUNTER Valley Grammar principal Paul Teys expects around 80 per cent of his students to return to classrooms next week, as his school resumes face to face teaching of its full timetable.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday state school students would return to classrooms from May 11 for one day a week, but this will build to all students attending full-time by term three.
Classes will be split and breaks staggered to ensure social distancing and teachers will have access to sanitiser and thermometers.
Mr Teys said the plan was "ridiculous and not even feasible" and his independent school would proceed differently.
"Our parent community is expecting this of us," he said.
"We knew over the holiday break that many of them wanted their children to come back [to the campus] from day one.
"They're not reckless or careless, they understand the measures and they know what's required, but they also know school's the best place for their kids' social and emotional learning, their welfare, their academic learning and generally it's a safe place."
Mr Teys said the school sent a survey to parents on Monday and 82 per cent said they would send children back if timetabled classes were held.
"So we're expecting 800 plus students to return to school next week."
He said he expected most remaining students would return within the fortnight.
Mr Teys said the school already had a policy of uploading lesson content to Microsoft OneNote.
He said students at home in year three and above would access this platform in real time, while younger pupils will receive sheets and exercises by email.
He said the school usually had around 20 students in 90 square metre classrooms and would have overflow areas if needed, plus would consider how to manage movement between classrooms.
Mr Teys said there was plenty of sanitiser and soap and teachers would supervise the playground to ensure social distancing.
"We decided to side with the Prime Minister," he said.
"Our funding arrangements are with the Commonwealth, not the state, so we have to basically follow the lead of the Prime Minister and the federal education minister and that's what we're doing."
The position is at odds with the Independent Education Union NSW/ACT's calls for a mid-term staged reopening.
Branch secretary Mark Northam said "a rushed return to face to face teaching risks revisiting the untenable and stressful situation where teachers will again be forced to deliver two modes of instruction, both online and face to face".
Principals will determine attendance patterns for students resuming face to face learning, based on their school circumstances.
Labor leader Jodi McKay said this puts the burden for rolling out the plan on principals, which she hadn't been consulted.
"Theres no certainty or consistency here for parents, students or teachers, Ms McKay said.
"This proposed model has never been implemented anywhere else in Australia or overseas.
:Our teachers will try make this work, because thats what teachers do, but they are being treated like guinea pigs with no leadership from the Premier or Education Minister."
She said year 11 and 12 should be the first to return.
NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Jack Galvin Waight said the Premier had "failed Hunter teachers, students and parents" and raised concerns about health and safety, social distancing, parents' ability to work and teacher workloads.
He said the region's teachers would view the plan with "deep concern and resentment".
"The Premier has again failed to address health and safety risks, by exposing young people - even at 20-25 per cent of students - and a significantly larger proportion of school staff to possible cross-infection for this minimal level of face-to-face educational benefit on site," Mr Galvin Waight said.
"She has also done nothing again to address the multitude of concerns and contradictions that remain unanswered with respect to the application of social distancing requirements in schools."
He said the federation had proposed a staggered return with one year group in each of the primary and secondary settings, initially starting with kindergarten and year 12.
"When appropriate, we could then add one year per setting, for example year six and year seven, slowly padding out schools over time, mindful of our primary concern: the health and safety of our students, teachers and principals; our entire school communities."
Meanwhile NSW Secondary Principals Council executive member and Toronto High School principal Mark McConville said the phased return to school was to "support student wellbeing".
"The operation of each school will be different, as each school will have different levels of staffing available depending on the number of vulnerable staff working from home and the available replacement casual staff," Mr McConville said.
"High school operations will most likely be very different to how a primary school might operate.
"High schools will be developing models where there is a priority to providing educational support for year 12 students.
"When students attend school, it will be different to schooling pre-COVID-19.
"When students attend they will be spread out across several classrooms, they might not have their class teacher and they will be working online or with work packages provided by the school.
"There will be opportunities to interact with staff to clarify tasks and receive assistance and feedback."
Mr McConville said teachers were still concerned about their and their students' health.
"Some staff will be teaching students who are the same age as their grandchildren, but they are unable to interact with their grandchildren," he said.
"Social distancing in a school setting is somewhere between very difficult to impossible. I have no idea how a kindergarten teacher will be able to socially distance themselves from their students."
The NSW P&C Federation spokesman said "the logistical challenges facing such a scheme are enormous".
"It is still unclear how schools will decide which students return to school on which days, whether it will be mandatory for parents to comply, and how teachers will realistically manage the challenges of teaching remotely and face-to-face concurrently," he said.
"It could be especially disruptive for parents with multiple children who may have to attend school on different days, as this could hinder the parents from carrying out their jobs in the week.
"However schools decide on how students return, there must be recognition of those parents who cannot keep their children at home during the week.
"Parents appear to have been shut out of the consultation entirely, which is very concerning as parents and children are the largest groups directly affected by this."
Catholic Schools Office director Gerard Mowbray said the diocese would establish guidelines for the resumption of face to face learning that would be based on government advice and prioritise health and wellbeing of staff and students.
"Our school principals will then be empowered to devise a plan that adheres to these guidelines and outlines a staggered approach to the return of on-campus learning that supports their school community's unique operating environment," Mr Mowbray said.
"We will be placing concerted emphasis on year 11 and year 12 students' face-to-face learning, as they prepare to sit for their Higher School Certificate.
"We also recognise it is important for early age groups to stay attached to their learning and for this reason, they too will be a key focus in our planning."
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