Light at the end of lockdown: Back to school
by JAMES POYNER
4th October 2021
REMOTE LEARNING has been a major component of schooling for students at all levels during the past 18 months.
For Year 12 students it has been especially stressful as not only do they have to deal with the stress of exams, but they have had to do it, via computer, in the isolation of their own home.
But with vaccination ramping up and the agreed National Plan now in effect, our students at the most critical part of their education journey can finally get back to the classroom.
With 70 per cent of the eligible adult population at least single dosed, our society has already begun to open up.
Note, these changes are in addition to children of authorised workers and vulnerable children who are already still participating in on-site learning. On October 5, Students sitting the GAT (General Achievement Test) will be able to do so in the classroom. This will be followed by on-site learning for VCE Unit 3/4, and final year VCAL and IB students on October 6.
From October 18, Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students will return to part-time on-site learning, with Prep on-site Monday — Wednesday, and Grade 1 and 2 students on-site Thursdays and Fridays.
When the eligible adult population reaches 70 per cent double vaccinated, which is expected to be around October 26, on-site learning will open up for all Primary and Secondary aged children — to some extent.
Phase B of the National Plan sees a continuation of existing arrangements plus:
- Grades 3 and 4: on-site Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Grades 5 and 6: on-site Thursdays and Fridays
- Year 7 students will be full time Monday to Friday
- Year 8 and 9: on-site Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Year 10 students on-site Thursdays and Fridays
- Year 11 students full time Monday to Friday
On around November 5, it is expected the eligible adult population will reach and pass its 80 per cent fully vaccinated target and all schooling will return to normal.
The three Vs of the education sector
In addition to the roadmap, Minister for Education, James Merlino announced the State Government’s three Vs for a safe return to school. The three Vs; ventilation, vaccination, and vital CovidSafe steps is part of a $190M+ initiative to provide schools with equipment needed to reduce the chances of Coronavirus spreading in our schools.
Mr Merlino said the introduction of air purification devices will help keep kids safe once they are back in the classroom.
“I know Victorian families can’t wait to see their kids back in the classroom — but we need to keep them safe once they’re there, and we’re delivering ventilation devices to prevent as much transmission on school sites as possible.
“With a roadmap in place to get all students back to school safely, we’ll make sure every single Victorian child is supported when they’re back in the classroom — whether that’s with their schoolwork or their wellbeing,” he said.
Term 4 will see 51,000 air purification devices rolled out to all government and low-fee non-government schools and installed in “high risk” areas such as staff rooms, hallways, music rooms, and “sick bays”.
Additionally, these schools will be entitled to a grant of up to $25,000 as part of the School Shade Grants Program, to create outdoor learning spaces.
In addition, State Government has mandated that all staff in schools and early childhood services will be required to have had their first dose of coronavirus vaccine by October 18, or have a booking within one-week of that date, and to be fully vaccinated by November 29.