COVID-19 – Back to school and school holidays already
All students as of 25 May 2020 should have gone back to school. In Queensland there was a staggered start for school students to return to school with students in kindy, prep, Year 1, Year 11 and 12 returning first on 11 May 2020 followed by Years 2 to Year 10 on 25 May 2020.
Although it feels like school has just started back school holidays start on 26 June 2020 for 2 weeks.
The Queensland Government Department of Education (“Department of Education”) website provides that it is expected that children in all year levels will now be back at school from 25 May 2020. However, the Department of Education website does acknowledge that “…some parents or carers may still wish to keep their children home from school due to special circumstances, medical vulnerability, or concerns about the risk of COVID-19 transmission.” The Department of Education provides that if a child is kept at home that the parent at home remains responsible for their supervision, learning, safety and wellbeing at home or elsewhere.
For further information from the Department of Education on frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and children returning to school please see this link .
For parents who are separated children returning to school may create conflict and further disputes with the other parent as to whether their child should return to school or whether they should be home schooled. Each family situation is different and there are many parents who are living with a paternal or maternal grandparent or elderly relative who is particularly at risk from COVID-19 or the parent themselves may be at risk. Similarly, there may be a child who has a medical vulnerability and is at high risk who a parent wants to protect and considers not sending their child to school and home schooling will be in that child’s best interests.
Parents who are in dispute about whether a child should or should not return to school or be home schooled should first try to resolve the dispute amicably with the other parent and listen to the other parent’s concerns and consider the safety and best interests of the child.
The Chief Justice of the Family Court has released a Media Release with respect to parenting Orders and COVID-19. This is the link where you can find the Media Release which lists out some practical steps to take when there is a dispute and how to reach an agreement with the other parent and also taking into account existing parenting Orders.
One of the practical examples given in this Media Release is that if an agreement is reached about new parenting arrangements the agreement should be in writing, which could be by way of email, SMS text message or WhatsApp message. We consider that this is particularly important where parties already have existing Orders and are making changes to those Orders in light of COVID-19. Most parenting Orders do provide for parenting arrangements to be changed so long as there is an agreement between the parties in writing.
At Michael Lynch Family Lawyers we are able to assist you with respect to parenting matters particularly to provide you with practical legal advice arising from issues concerning COVID-19 and how this may impact upon parenting arrangements and/or parenting Orders. To speak with one of our experienced family lawyers, please contact our Brisbane office today. Call us on (07) 3221 4300 to organise a no-obligation initial appointment at a fixed-cost. We are able to arrange safe appointments for all clients including by way of video conferencing such as Zoom and Skype and face-to-face meetings adhering to the social distancing requirements.