Thursday, 14 May 2020 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY Page 1226 & 1227
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (14:38):
My question is to the Minister for Education. Can the minister please advise the house how schoolchildren travelling on regional school buses can attend their relevant schools and at the same time abide by the safe social distance protocol? With your leave, Mr Speaker, and that of the house, I will explain a bit further.
The Hon. G.G. BROCK: Prior to the schools recently going on their school holidays, I wrote to the minister on 7 April with parents’ concerns regarding their children having to travel on school buses but not being able to satisfy the safe distance requirement. I also suggested a couple of recommendations to the minister.
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (14:39): I thank the member for the question and I apologise that the letter that he wrote in April has apparently not received a direct response, as I understand, so we will seek to address that. Certainly the situation on school buses is subject to some extent to similar advice in relation to public transport but also specifically as we are talking about a cohort of children, then it is something where we have sought Health advice along the way. Inasmuch as public transport, there will potentially be further advice from the AHPPC. We will certainly be seeking Professor Spurrier’s advice as to whether that changes the expectation that she has put on our school transport facilities.
The medical advice has been consistent throughout: children do not spread the virus in the same way that adults do; that does not seem to happen. I am not a doctor. I have never pretended to be a scientist, so I can’t tell you why that is the case, but I can tell you that the advice that we have received consistently from the AHPPC and Professor Spurrier has been that, for whatever reason, the virus behaves differently with young people than it does for older people. I suspect that informs their advice in relation to transport of young people; nevertheless, we will see what has happened with the letter and provide a response at the earliest possible opportunity.