Closure of Wollongong Cycle Race roads forces students to return to online learning

Thousands of Wollongong students face a week of online learning as the roads close in on the cars for the UCI Road World Championships in September.

More than 300,000 spectators are expected in the city for the world-class racing event from September 18-25.

It is expected to be the biggest event ever in Wollongong.

More than 1,000 cyclists from 70 nations will take part in 11 races over the eight days.

A note about the disruption to the end of the third term caused by the closure of a number of roads in and around the CBD was sent to the families of public school students on Tuesday evening.

The Department of Education said seven public schools and two support units were assessed as inaccessible by normal methods of travel to and from school during the event.

These schools are:

  • Keira High School
  • Mount Ousley Public School
  • Para Meadows School
  • Pleasant Heights Public School
  • Smith’s Hill High School
  • Wollongong Performing Arts High School
  • Wollongong Public School
  • Smith Street Emergency Unit
  • ED Flame Tree Unit

Director of Instructional Leadership David Lamb said schools have proven they can work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he said schools would not be open to parents or guardians who could not support online learning, as they had been during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately one of the by-products of the race, the schools will be closed and no one will be there,” he said.

“We will have to rely on our parents to discuss with their principals the best option for them and consider alternatives.”

The department said 12 other public schools near the race route would be “notified of road closures and alternate routes to and from the school and encouraged to plan their travel in advance.”

Good Samaritan Catholic Primary School in Fairy Meadow and St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School in Gwynneville will also switch to online learning.

Last year, St Mary’s Star of the Sea College swapped term dates to give students a week off.

No comparison with impact of teacher shortage

NSW Teachers Federation Illawarra organizer Duncan McDonald said it was unfortunate the event was not timed to coincide with school holidays.

“There are concerns that the week will disrupt a number of schools,” he said.

Mr McDonald said the situation was creating the most complications for classes in the support unit.

“Headmasters and teachers do an amazing job in these support units, so when there are disruptions and there is no predictable day, it makes the day very difficult,” he said. .

“So unfortunately we will see students missing the opportunity to be in school with their classmates, but it will also be difficult to track their situation to do online learning.”

However, he said the impact paled in comparison to the current scale of the teacher shortage.

“The level of disruption does not compare to the daily disruptions that occur in all schools due to significant long-term teacher shortages,” McDonald said.

He said figures released to Parliament at the end of last year showed there were 164 permanent teaching vacancies in Illawarra and the Southern Highlands.

“On a day-to-day basis the impact is being noticed, COVID and flu are making a bad situation even worse, schools are struggling and having a hard time trying to put teachers in front of students every day.”

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