Chris Song, 300 Selective founder and James Ruse graduate, speaks about the impact that COVID-19 has on Selective School exam preparation.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (or novel coronavirus) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can be transmitted between people through contact, but good hygiene and safe practices can prevent this.
How has Australia/NSW been affected?
As of 15 March 2020, there have been 134 confirmed cases and 1924 cases under investigation in NSW. There are 298 confirmed cases in all of Australia. It has been categorised as a 'pandemic' by the World Health Organisation, with 162 600 confirmed global cases and 6300 deaths.
Most recently, the NSW State has enforced its special powers to immediately cancel any public events with over 500 people, and police have been given power to force people to self-isolate, imposing a fine of up to $11 000 and possible prison time for those who do not comply with these new laws.
What are schools/coaching centres doing?
For the most part, schools have been running as normal, with a few safeguards in place. This 'social distancing' measure will involve no school assemblies, excursions, and sports events. Some schools have taken additional steps to cancel parent-teacher meetings and extracurricular activities.
The Department of Education recently announced that there are contingencies in place for students to 'learn from home' should any major events occur. This is in contrast to almost 30 other countries (including France) who have ordered public school closures. Some Australian private schools have either shut down for the term (Geelong Grammar) or moved to online learning (Scotch Oakburn College).
Although the NSW Premier has announced that public schools will remain open for now, higher education campuses such as University of Sydney and UNSW are currently cancelling real-life classes and moving to online recorded lectures and tutorials. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has urged the government to make a series of 'hard decision', including closing schools down.
It is likely that if schools do close, most coaching centres will either voluntarily or be required to shut down as well.