“Let them dance” seems to be the resounding cry from the community as Year 10 and 12 students approach the end of one of the most turbulent school years in recent history.
The cries follow an announcement from the public health director last week that a controversial dancing ban may not be lifted until next year, or at least until a COVID-19 vaccine has been established.
Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations president Nigel Jones said “mixed messages” from the government about school celebration dinners have left parents and students “frustrated and confused”.
He said he had been pushing for formals to be held at schools, with the understanding it would give students the freedom to dance and not worry about social distancing.
“That’s the guidelines to what we understood was going to happen, the socials were going to be held at the schools with the facilities to do so,” Mr Jones said.
“All of a sudden they’re talking about not being able to dance and having to social distance … it’s just crazy, if they have it at their schools, what’s the problem? These students are next to each other in class all day anyway.”
It seems the cries have not fallen on deaf ears, with Minister for Education Jeremy Rockliff confirming on Monday that advice would be given soon.
“We recognise that it’s of interest to people … we know how important end of year celebrations are and formals,” he said.
“We expect that advice in the not-too-distant future.”
He said the year had been a challenging one for schools, and that he understood the importance of a normal celebration.
“My desire is for all our schools to participate in as normal an environment as possible,” he said.
“But public health advice is very important, we’ve always followed public health advice.”
When challenged on the inconsistency of enforcing social distancing at a celebration held on school property, Mr Rockliff said the DoE had been consistent.
“Consistency is important, but we’ve been consistent in ensuring that we have the best public health advice available,” he said.
“As much as possible ensured that we have received that advice and acted on that advice in a consistent matter.”
TASSO president Mr Jones said he was meeting with the department next week, and hoped for a decision as parents remained confused about how to plan for celebration events when the details were still up in the air.
“I’ve been hearing from so many parents who are frustrated at the moment,” he said.
“Let these kids let their hair down and have a good time.”