Executive Director’s Update to Principals #77: COVID Update - 10 Sep 2021
God of the fire and God of the wind, God of the silent sound,
when you speak to us,
you do so in ways we may not expect but cannot ignore.
Allow us in this time of frantic noise and eerie stillness
to listen again to the wind
and the earth,
to the gentle whisper of you
calling our name.
And may we hear in your voice
words of love and hope,
the good news of your presence with us still.
~ Corrymeela Community
Today’s Victorian Press Conference
In today’s Victorian Press Conference, COVID-19 Response Commander Jeroen Weimar commended more than 56,000 Victorian 16-18 year olds who have had now their first vaccination. He also encouraged those eligible students who have not yet booked for their vaccination that the Priority Year 12 Booking Service is still available until Friday 17 September. Watch this section of the press conference.
The Minister for Public Transport/Roads and Road Safety Ben Caroll spoke about the return of all students to on-site learning during question time, highlighting the importance of a safe and well-planned return to a ‘proper learning environment’ that will take place in due course. Watch this section of the press conference.
Updated School Operations Guide
The Term 3 School Operations Guide has been updated and is available to download from CEVN. Key changes affecting schools in regional Victoria are below.
A one pager of the Quick reference of permitted school activities for regional schools (excluding Shepparton LGA) is available to download.
It is important to note that students and staff should maximise time outdoors, including holding some lessons outdoors where possible, classroom windows and doors being open, and that mixing between groups of students and staff is limited wherever possible.
Based on advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, all schools in regional Victoria except for Greater Shepparton will continue to provide remote and flexible learning except for students in the following categories who are able to attend on-site:
- Students in Prep to Year 2 and students in Units 3/4 VCE and final year VCAL and International Baccalaureate (IB)
*Note that this includes ungraded students enrolled in specialist schools who are in their first three years of schooling and in their last year of schooling.
- Children who have been previously been attending because their parent/s and/or carer/s were considered authorised workers
- Children experiencing vulnerability, including:
- in out-of-home care
- deemed vulnerable by a government agency, funded family or family violence service, and assessed as requiring education and care outside the family home
- identified by a school or early childhood service as vulnerable, (including via referral from a government agency, or funded family or family violence service, homeless or youth justice service or mental health or other health service)
- Where a parent/carer indicates that a student with a disability is vulnerable because they cannot learn from home, and/or informs the school the student is vulnerable due to family stress, the school must provide on-site supervision for that student. This may apply to students enrolled in specialist schools and students with a disability enrolled in mainstream schools.
School staff moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will also be required to undertake twice weekly COVID-19 PCR testing to help keep our schools safe; refer to section 6: Testing requirements for moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Students and staff who live in regional Victoria and are enrolled in or work in a school in metropolitan Melbourne will continue with remote and flexible working arrangements in place in metropolitan Melbourne. *Schools should check-in with these students each day and provide learning materials through the next week to enable continuity of learning.
If you live in regional Victoria and need to travel into metropolitan Melbourne for your work or if you live in metropolitan Melbourne and work in a school in regional Victoria, an authorised worker permit is required
Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs in regional Victoria can operate for students eligible for onsite learning or supervision and care.
On-site supervision must continue to be available in metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA and students in Year 3 to 11 in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton), but only for students in the categories listed above (Pages 4/5), for the purpose of providing continuity of teaching, learning and support. See full details on page 10.
From 11.59pm Thursday 9 September, work permits are no longer required in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton).
Limit school access to outside visitors where possible (p30)
Visitors to school premises should be limited to essential school services and operations.
Principals are best placed to make decisions regarding what visitors are essential to the operation of their school, noting the following:
- Within regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA), schools should review the Authorised provider and authorised worker list when making decisions regarding the suitability of staff or workers that reside in metropolitan Melbourne (other than those directly involved in the care and supervision of students). Only workers or volunteers permitted under the Authorised provider and authorised worker list to work in metropolitan Melbourne are able to travel to regional Victoria for work purposes.
Essential visitors include for example:
- Health and wellbeing staff
- Parish Priests
School events, gatherings and assemblies (p17)
School events, gatherings, assemblies, and non-essential meetings should be deferred or held remotely in metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA and in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA).
All interschool activities should be deferred or held remotely.
Physical education and intraschool sport – Outdoor and indoor contact and non-contact physical activity is permitted in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA). Where using an external sporting facility in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA), density limits do not apply where there is exclusive use of the venue by single schools, however schools should continue to apply COVIDSafe principles to decision making, including avoiding intera ctions in closed spaces and physical distancing where practicable.
Camps and excursions cannot take place at this time.
Outside School Hours Care programs can operate for students eligible for on-site supervision as outlined above. School groups should not be mixed. *Further advice regarding operations of school holiday or vacation care programs will be provided.
Create COVIDSafe spaces (p23)
Schools should promote outdoor air ventilation and do not have air conditioners on recirculate. See full details on page 23.
A variety of strategies to support physical distancing among all students and staff should be pursued, where possible, and interactions in closed spaces should be avoided. See full details on pages 25-26.
Staff in regional schools should avoid working across multiple sites as much as practical, noting there will be some workforces who will need to work across multiple schools (i.e. health and wellbeing staff and casual relief teaching staff). See full details on page 32.
Singing, brass and woodwind classes (p19)
Singing and playing wind and brass instruments can occur in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA) if Department of Health recommendations to reduce transmission risk are followed. Recommendations include moving outdoors, increasing ventilation, physical distancing of 2 metres between performers and 5 metres between performers and the audience, reducing the number of people, or reducing the length of time an activity is conducted. Further advice on ways to reduce risk can be found in DH guidance: COVID-19 transmission from air-circulating, wind-blowing devices and activities.
Students and staff who live in and are enrolled in or work in a school in a cross-border community area and attend a school in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA) will be able to attend on-site if they meet the eligibility criteria as per the above categories (Page 4).
The cross-border area has been further reduced, with the following LGAs in the Ballarat Diocese removed from 11.59pm Thursday 2 September: Buloke and Yarriambiack. See full details on page 9.
Testing requirements for moving between metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA and regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA) (p10)
Any staff crossing in and out of metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA will need to get tested for COVID-19 twice a week. This includes both:
- Staff who live in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA) who work in metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA
- Staff who live in metropolitan Melbourne and Greater Shepparton LGA who work in regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA).
For the period 10 September-17 September, 2021 this means the first test needs to occur within 72 hours after finishing the first day back for onsite learning and then again three days after their initial test.
Staff do not need to isolate following their test and can attend work while waiting for their test result.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, if any staff present symptoms of COVID-19 they should not attend on site but get tested and isolate immediately.
Updated School Operations Guide – key changes specific to secondary schools
School-based assessments for VCE/VCAL (p8-9)
In line with eased restrictions in Regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton), year 12 students, and students in other year levels, who are studying Unit 3 and 4 subjects who reside in regional Victoria, can resume on site learning and proceed with essential assessments in line with broader health and safety controls in schools. See full details on pages 8-9.
School boarding premises and Medium-Term Residential Programs (MTRP) (p11)
Staff currently located in metropolitan Melbourne but work in a regional Victorian boarding school or MTRP, will require an authorised worker permit to travel to regional Victoria for work. Staff moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria are required to have twice weekly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing PCR testing.
Students and staff who live in regional Victoria and are enrolled in or work in a boarding school but are currently not onsite, or MTRP in metropolitan Melbourne, will continue with remote and flexible working arrangements.
Vulnerable students or children of essential workers can return to metropolitan Melbourne to undertake on-site learning within a boarding premise or MTRP. These students would then be subject to metropolitan Melbourne Stay at Home restrictions.
VCE/VCAL/VET provision in TAFEs, non-school senior secondary providers and other training organisations (p16)
Students in their final year of schooling in regional Victoria can participate in their VCE or VCAL classes, including VET studies, where these are held at TAFEs, RTOs or schools within regional Victoria (excluding Greater Shepparton LGA).
The following health and safety measures should be put in place to minimise risk associated with learning outside the school environment:
- Mixing of students from different educational facilities and schools should be minimised whenever practical.
- Physical distancing should be maintained whenever possible, particularly for classes that involve attendance by students from multiple institutions.
Structured workplace learning (SWL) and work experience (p17)
Only students undertaking a School Based Apprenticeship or Traineeship are able to attend their work placement, if on the Authorised Providers and Authorised Workers list. See full details on page 17.
Vaccination and mental health webinar
The Victorian Department of Health is hosting a live webinar for young people to provide information on COVID-19 vaccines and how to support their mental health. You can join the free webinar on Tuesday 14 September from 6-7pm. Registration is via Eventbrite.
Topics covered include:
- Vaccines, development and safety
- Accessing and consenting to a vaccination
- How to book an appointment
- How to support your mental health
- Q+A with the panel.
This event will be held via Microsoft Teams Live. For access information visit: Attend a live event in Teams.
Please pass this information on to your school communities.
Next COVID Update
We will continue to monitor the situation and advise principals of any updates. Please liaise with the COVID Support team (see left hand column) or your Education Consultant with any questions or concerns.
Stay safe and continue to look after each other…
Deputy Director of Catholic Education (Interim)