VICTORIAN government school students will begin a phased return to classrooms before the end of May, following advice from state Chief Health Officer that it is safe for the community to do so.
From Tuesday, May 26, all prep, and grade one and two students, specialist school students, as well as VCE and VCAL students will return to on-site learning at government schools. The next fortnight, and a pupil free day at all schools on May 25, will give staff, schools and families time to prepare for the change.
Vulnerable students in years three 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 the broader year three to 10 cohort will continue to learn remotely until Tuesday, June 9, to give the government and the Chief Health Officer time to monitor and evaluate the effects that the return to school by other year levels has on the increased movement of people and transmission within the community.
Since the beginning of term two, most children in Victoria have been learning remotely, limiting the number of people moving around the state to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
These efforts, and the biggest testing blitz in the country, mean Victoria is now in the position to begin moving back to face-to-face learning in the classroom.
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 terms two and three. This will help to reduce the spread of viruses and germs in schools and will include the cleaning of frequently used high-touch surfaces.
All Victorian school staff will be prioritised for voluntary coronavirus testing from both mobile and fixed testing sites for a two-week period before on-site classes resume.
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.
Premier Daniel Andrews thanked everyone for sticking to the rules and getting tested.
“We’re now able to start getting our kids back into the classroom,” he said.
“Having most of our kids learning from home has made a big contribution to limiting the number of people moving around the community and reduced the spread of the virus.”
Education Minister James Merlino commended the efforts of principals, teachers, support staff, students and families in making remote learning work.