Tens of thousands of Australian school students returned to their classrooms on Monday to resume full-time face-to-face classes, as the country plans to normalize its economic activity in July after curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Preschool, primary and secondary students in the state of New South Wales, the most populous in Australia, as well as those in Queensland and Tasmania, returned to school under strict hygiene measures, but will not yet be able to participate in excursions or competitions, reports Efe news.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said Monday morning that it was an "exciting day for lots of parents and teachers and students" and that "by all accounts this morning things are going very well".
The state of Victoria will allow the return of its eldest and youngest students on Tuesday, while the others will do so on June 9.
The remaining four states and territories, which are responsible for managing education in their regions, have already standardized school classes or will do so progressively until early next month.
The return of schoolchildren has put pressure on public transport, which has been restricted in New South Wales.
Despite the fact that the government's health ministry has assured that children are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus by returning to school, more than 7,000 parents have signed a petition on Change.org to demand that New South Wales authorities deem that going back to class is not compulsory.
Meanwhile, universities were continuing to analyze how to resume face-to-face classes, mainly in laboratories, although the decision will depend on each tertiary institution and each state and territory.
International students, many of whom are still outside the country due to the closure of borders, contributed about A$37.6 billion ($24.5 billion) last fiscal year.
Australian states and territories have begun to implement Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government plan at different speeds, with a view to resuming all activities in July, although the country's borders will remain closed indefinitely.
Australia, which has carried out more than 1.2 million tests to detect the novel coronavirus, has recorded some 7,100 cases of COVID-19, including 102 deaths, and since May 17 has registered fewer than 14 new infections per day.
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