All Victorian students and teachers will return to classrooms by the end of the month in a move the Education Minister has described as a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
While announcing nine new coronavirus cases and no deaths on Monday, Deputy Premier James Merlino detailed the staggered return of students to face-to-face learning in the coming weeks.
Term 4 started on Monday, with Mr Merlino announcing “all students other than senior students” would be coming on site to sit the General Achievement Test.
“That is an incredibly important test because that moderates student VCE scores. It is incredibly important every year but particularly this year. I can also inform you that there are no schools closed, so we‘ve got a clear run at the GAT,” he told reporters on Monday morning.
From October 12 all primary school students, VCE and VCAL students will return, and special schools will open.
“Today, I can add to that. All Year 7s will go back to school from the 12th, and that is incredibly pleasing,” Mr Merlino said.
“We talked last time about the milestone year that is Year 6. Year 7 is also a milestone year. It’s their foundation year in secondary schools.”
Year 8, 9 and 10 students – about 164,000 students – will then return to classrooms from October 26.
“We were never going to have a million students at the same day, same time, returning to school and seeing that movement of all of those students, all of their parents and carers and teachers and staff,” Mr Merlino said.
“The two weeks gives us time to monitor the impact as we bring back 50,000 Year 7 students alongside all the years 11 and 12. We have this two-week period to monitor the impact both for the return of those students, the increased movement of people as well as all of the strategies in place at a school level.
“It is also, obviously, a full incubation period, so that was part of the advice and the consideration. And lastly, and this is important – as years 8, 9 and 10 return to face-to-face teaching, from the week of October 26, so the last week in October, 8, 9 and 10s come to school.”
Senior VCE students will undertake their final exams in early November, while all students in secondary schools will be instructed to wear face masks.
There will be staggered pick-up and drop-off times to limit movement and crowds outside school gates.
“There will be a very strong message to parents – this is pick-up and drop-off. It’s not dropping off the kids and having a chat at the school gate as much as you would like to. It’s pick up and drop off,” Mr Merlino said.