New South Wales parents have launched a petition to highlight concerns about students being forced to return to face-to-face classes.

The petition already has 9,000 signatures urging the state government to give parents the right to decide whether their children attend school in-person during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With so much not known about this virus and it’s side-effects on children, let the parents make an informed decision if they want the kids to be a guinea pig or not,” the petition said.

“We expect NSW DET to let parents exercise their right, have a choice to decide, to either send their kids to school or to continue in the online classroom.”

The petition outlined concerns about compulsory school attendance, as well as the enforcement of physical distancing and hygiene guidelines.

The NSW Premier and Minister for Education outlined attendance requirements as part of the return to face-to-face learning. From this week, attendance is compulsory and failure to attend school without a medical reason will be recorded as an unexplained absence.

Following the closure of two schools in Sydney’s east, Waverly College and Moriah College on Tuesday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Today the two cases did not warrant a state-wide schools shut down.

“Because this happens in two schools with two students each doesn’t mean you shut down the entire system,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Ms Berejiklian said it is the right time for students to return to school, and the community must be prepared for regular closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately, this will be the new normal during the pandemic, it’s going to happen again,” she said.

“[We need] To make sure that all the schools have the guidelines and equipment in place to deal with is when it does happen so we can minimise the spread and make sure that everyone is protected.”

A full outline of the NSW Government’s back to school guidelines and advice for students, families and teachers are available at the NSW Department of Education’s website.

Back to school guide by UOWTV Multimedia