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‘It’s time’: Health expert calls for schools to be closed immediately

Calls for schools to be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are escalating, with many teachers urging the government to move to stop students attending.

A group of 45 Footscray High School teachers and staff have penned an open letter to the Andrews government, calling for schools to be temporarily shut down.

Expert in preventative health policy, Bill Bowtell, says schools should be closed to most students immediately.

“They should be repurposed, I think, to accommodate the children of essential workers and those who have very good reasons for not being able to be at home when the children are there,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“For the rest, I think it’s time now that children were distanced from each other and from people in general.”

Some private schools have already closed their doors, and many parents have chosen not to send their kids to school.

“Many parents have voted with their feet anyway. Many children have been withdrawn from the school system but it needs a bit more order and a bit more serious advice,” Mr Bowtell said.

Mr Bowtell warned if decisive action isn’t taken, it’s likely the coronavirus outbreak in Australia will be more severe than it needs to be.

“All we can do is prudently plan for the worst, and if we plan for the worst and take the decisive steps now we will get something less than the worst, we hope, and it will be better off than if we took no action,” he said.

Current advice from Victorian health authorities stipulates only schools where a confirmed case of coronavirus is detected should close temporarily.

A full list of the schools which are currently closed is available on the education department website.

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Image: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty