For everyone Coronavirus in Victoria: staged return to schools from 25 May

  • This article was published more than 4 years ago.
  • 11 May 2020

The Victorian government has announced a phased return to classrooms, starting on 25 May, on advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer.

Staff will return to Victorian public schools from Monday 25 May, which is a pupil-free day.

From Tuesday 26 May, all Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students, specialist school students, as well as VCE and VCAL students, will return to on-site learning at government schools.

Vulnerable students in Years 3 to 10, and children in those years whose parents or carers cannot work from home, can continue to attend school on-site as needed during this period.

Students in Years 3 to 10 will continue to learn remotely until Tuesday 9 June, to give the government and the Chief Health Officer time to monitor and evaluate the effects that the staged return to school is having on the increased movement of people and transmission within the community.

Vulnerable students in Years 3 to 10, and children in those years whose parents or carers cannot work from home, can continue to attend school on-site as needed during this period.

AEU Victorian Branch president Meredith Peace says this news will give certainty to teachers, principals, education support staff, students and parents, and marks the beginning of the end of what has been a challenging time.

“We know this has been a challenging time for everyone involved and we’d prefer schools be operating as normal, but our first priority throughout the pandemic has been the health and wellbeing of school staff and students,” Ms Peace says.

“It won’t be school as we’re used to; we’re going to have to continue to take extra precautions and practice strong personal hygiene and social distancing, which will bring new challenges.”

The government will invest up to $45 million for enhanced cleaning, which will occur every day at every school across the state for all of Term 2 and Term 3. It will include the cleaning of frequently used high-touch surfaces.

All Victorian school staff will be prioritised for voluntary coronavirus testing for a two-week period from both mobile and fixed testing sites, starting today (12 May). This will enable school staff to seek testing during the preparation period before the return to on-site schooling.

High-risk staff will be granted an exception, and can continue to work from home if they fall into one of the following categories:
• Staff aged over 65 with a medical condition
• Staff of any age with compromised immunity
• Any staff member over 70
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff aged over 50.

Schools will be encouraged to implement a staggered drop-off system to reduce the number of adults congregating outside the school at any one time, as well as staggered break times to manage the number of students mixing across year levels. Schools will also implement social distancing measures for all adults.

The strict health protocols that are already in place will be followed if a member of the school community tests positive for coronavirus.

The AEU is having ongoing discussions with the Department of Education and Training about the working arrangements for members in light of the announcement. This includes working through details for special schools, the provision of PPD, staggered drop-offs and pick-ups, social distancing measures and leave provisons for staff.

We are also continuing discussions about the arrangements for Early Childhood services and TAFEs.

We will continue to update the following FAQs as quickly as possible and advise members through bulletins.

Access our FAQs for schools here.

Access our FAQs for early childhood here.

AEU members with specific queries regarding their personal situation should contact the Member Support Centre: [email protected] or (03) 9417 2822.

The Department has been providing regular advice to principals via email, with the DET coronavirus webpage providing key information as well.

As always, students and parents will rely on us for clear information, so it is important that all members stay up to date with information provided by the Department and the AEU over the coming weeks.

Updated information about the novel coronavirus for the education sector is available here.

Detailed information for distribution to parents and families (including factsheets for schools and students in English, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese) is available here.

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