For everyone News in brief: Term 4, 2021

Ban on MPs visiting schools

The ban on Victorian state government MPs attending public schools is just one of the latest protected actions in the campaign for a better Schools Agreement – but it’s the one attracting the most media attention, including reports in The Age and the Herald Sun. “Visits [from politicians] disrupt scheduled student learning, and create workload for principals and other staff, whilst politicians get free media they can use to promote themselves in their electorate,” AEU branch president Meredith Peace has told the media. “We’re not providing those opportunities until school staff get the support from government that they deserve.”

AEU push for ventilation in schools and EC

The AEU has successfully advocated on the need for adequate ventilation in all education settings. All government school campuses can access $25,000 for shade sail grants to increase usable outdoor space. Air purifiers will be provided by the end of December. DET is conducting a Ventilation Assessment Program in 100 sample schools. Occupational hygienists and mechanical engineers are assessing airflow patterns, prioritising the rollout of air purifiers and providing guidance to schools. The Victorian government is also providing up to $4,500 to support projects that improve ventilation and air quality in early childhood settings.

Rapid antigen testing pilot

A rapid antigen testing program is underway for students deemed Primary Close Contacts (PCCs) for new COVID-19 exposures on school sites. This program, now being rolled out state-wide, will use at-home rapid antigen testing to reduce quarantine time and enable an earlier return to school. This enables unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students to return to school after a seven-day quarantine, instead of 14 days. Doherty Institute modelling suggests this could reduce the loss of face-to-face teaching days from an average 256 to around 69, and help avoid possible outbreaks.

Federal education minister Alan Tudge condemned

While delivering a speech to the Centre for Independent Studies, the federal education minister claimed draft changes to the national curriculum risked students forming a “negative view of our history”, adding that “Anzac Day should not be a contested idea. It is the most sacred day in the Australian calendar”. In response, Victoria’s education minister James Merlino told Guardian Australia, “Australian students deserve better than ham-fisted culture wars rubbish from conservative politicians. The history of our nation is both inspiring and incredibly challenging, and it’s important that young Australians learn about it from a variety of perspectives.”

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