Executive Director’s Update to Principals #90: COVID Update - 4 Oct 2021
God of unbounded joy,
God of undying love:
the women went to the tomb
to tend to the crucified dead
and came back the first preachers
As we come back from our tomb today, and begin to live again,
may we deliver with unbridled joy what the world is dying to hear that death is never the end;
that love remains what is most divine; and that you continue to live
in the beating heart of our humanity.
~ The Corrymeela Community
Today’s Victorian press conference
On the first day of Term 4, today’s Victorian press conference had a distinctly education focus with Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino speaking on a number of topics.
- Minister Merlino announced $230m to deliver the Tutor Program initiative for the whole of 2022:
- Each individual school will receive the same allocation as last year, and some smaller schools will receive additional funding
- Sue Anderson, a teacher coordinating the tutor program at Langwarrin Park Primary School, spoke about the positive impact of the Tutor program, in particular for students who have struggled with online learning
- See the Premier’s media release for further information
- Minister Merlino offered high praise to teachers and students alike for getting through a very difficult two years, and recapped that Victorian students have acheived outstanding NAPLAN results.
- 51,000 air purifiers are continuing to be rolled out in Victorian schools over the coming weeks and months, which is unprecedented for any state in Australia.
- 8,000 VCE students have been tested for COVID prior to the GAT, primarily in hot spot areas in Melbourne. Of those tested, 33 students returned a positive COVID result, which would not have otherwise been detected. These students will not sit the GAT, and arrangements will be made for them to sit their exams at a later date or to receive a derived score.
- A number of mental health practitioner pop-up services are continuing to open in Victoria.
- 12-15 and 16-19 year olds are coming forward in record numbers to get vaccinated, with all age groups encouraged to continue coming forward to book available appoinments.
Watch today’s full Victorian press conference for further details.
Updated School Operations Guide
A new School Operations Guide was released over the weekend updated for Term 4. The updated Guide details the Victorian Government’s Roadmap for a staged return to on-site learning for regional and metropolitan schools.
These arrangements are subject to change and any such changes will be communicated to schools as soon as possible.
Other key updates include:
- Keeping COVIDSafe at school
- Required vaccinations
- Moving between metro/regional for both staff and students
Key information for Term 4
Ahead of Term 4, there are several key pieces of information that you should be familiar with:
- Vital COVIDSafe steps — you and your staff are encouraged to review the Keeping COVIDSafe at school guidance in the School Operations Guide and continue to prioritise the vital COVIDSafe steps including physical distancing, hygiene and testing and wearing face masks.
- Mental health and wellbeing — your mental health and wellbeing, as well as that of your staff and students, continues to be a priority. There are a range of supports available for students and staff – please see the School Operations Guide for more information.
- General Assessment Test (GAT) — as the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) communicated on Thursday 30 September, the GAT will be held on Tuesday 5 October. Students enrolled who live in selected postcodes as advised by VCAA are strongly recommended to get a COVID-19 test over the weekend, prior to sitting the GAT. Students will be able to sit the GAT if they have not been tested, but all students in those postcodes are strongly requested to get tested as an important safety measure. For schools in regional LGAs in lockdown, the GAT will go ahead as planned and prior testing is not a requirement.
COVID-19 vaccination directions for education workers
The Victorian Chief Health Officer has determined in Public Health Order #5 that COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for staff who work in schools. This includes principals, teachers, administration and education support staff, including casual relief teachers (CRTs) and pre-service teachers.
All staff who work in schools will be required to have a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 18 October 2021 or be able to produce evidence of a vaccination booking within that week.
All staff are required to be fully vaccinated by 29 November 2021 unless a medical exemption applies. They will be required to show evidence of their vaccination status.
Principals and school workforces will receive more information shortly to support the implementation of these requirements.
For more information see page 32 of the School Operations Guide.
Semester 2, 2021 F–10 Student Reporting Requirements
The CECV has worked with the other sectors in Victoria to develop a consistent approach to the reporting of student achievement and progress. The reporting requirements reflect the approved reporting exemptions from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA).
The CECV Semester 2, F-10 Reporting requirements state that schools must:
- Prioritise learning in the fundamental areas of Religious Education, English and Mathematics and include content from the other curriculum learning areas in their learning programs.
- Endeavour to cover the other five learning areas as much as is reasonably possible to ensure students continue to receive breadth of learning across the curriculum.
- Provide a written report (print or digital) in an accessible form and easy for parents/carers to understand for Semester 2, 2021.
- Provide the opportunity for parents/carers and students to discuss the school report with teachers, consistent with each school’s usual end-of-year approach but subject to any relevant health advice.
More information, including on the specific reporting requirements for English and Mathematics, is available here or on CEVN.
School Shade Sails Fund – CECV Grant Applications
As students return to school on-site under the Roadmap to Deliver the National Plan, schools are required to increase fresh air flow into indoor spaces whenever possible and to maximise the use of outdoor learning areas or environments. The School Shade Sails Fund provides grants to schools for shade development to facilitate outdoor learning. Schools can apply for up to $25,000 per school campus.
The aim of the Fund is to help schools maximise the use of their outdoor learning areas and environments by creating new safe and shaded outdoor learning spaces in schools to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
It is important that schools note the following regarding the grants:
- Grants are available to most eligible Victorian Catholic schools (excluding a small number of higher fee-paying secondary schools).
- Grants can be made via the SmartyGrants portal from 8 October 2021. The portal will not be available prior to that date.
- Only new shade sails/ structures will be considered (repair or replacement is not eligible).
- New shade sails/ structures over existing playgrounds are not eligible.
Further information is available on CEVN and on pages 33-34 of the School Operations Guide.
Annual Review Meetings
In light of the challenges faced this year, the Annual Review Meeting (ARM) for schools will not be compulsory in 2021. However, school leaders are encouraged to continue to engage in informal discussions with employees to discuss achievements and avenues for professional development. These informal discussions are an opportunity to connect and check in with employees which is increasingly important during this challenging time. Employees may choose to request a formal ARM, in these instances, School leaders are encouraged to hold the meeting in the usual way.
Changes to how the Department of Health communicates with primary contacts
Over the weekend it was announced that the Department of Health has changed the way it communicates with primary close contacts required to quarantine.
- People who have been tested for COVID-19 on or after Day 13 of their quarantine period and who receive a negative result can stop quarantining immediately. They will not be contacted by the Department of Health and can use their negative test result as proof that they have completed their quarantine period.
- People who have not been tested for COVID-19 on or after Day 13 should get tested as soon as possible and stay in quarantine until they have received a negative result. If they do not get tested, their quarantine period might be extended.
- People who have had new exposure to COVID-19 during their quarantine period, including being in the same household as someone with COVID-19, should stay in quarantine and await further advice.
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…