Executive Director’s Update to Principals #94: COVID Update - 11 Oct 2021
God of constant change, God of steadfast love:
so much of what is familiar is being put to rest, perhaps for a spell, perhaps for good.
May we who believe in life after death have faith to lay aside tired ways
and to trust that what is true and good and life-giving will re-emerge
from this cocooning tomb, transformed into the fuller embodiment
of what always was.
~ The Corrymeela Community
Updated School Operations Guide
The Term 4 School Operations Guide has been updated and is available to download from CEVN. Key changes affecting schools in regional Victoria are below.
For all school settings, the following additional directives have been announced by the Victorian Chief Health Officer and are now operational:
- Students in Year 3 to Year 6 to wear face masks when indoors on school premises, unless an exception applies.
- Recommends that all other children wear face masks when at school, attending an OSHC program, or when travelling to and from school on public transport, taxis or ride share vehicles.
See full details on page 37.
Updates to VCE/VCAL/VET provision in schools, TAFEs, non-school senior secondary providers and other training organisations
In regional Victoria, Year 10 students undertaking a VET program, as a Unit 1 or 2 subject, can attend the same classes and days as their Year 11 and 12 counterparts for VET studies only. For example, if a VET program is usually taught on a Wednesday to a combined Year 10 and 11 cohort, it is reasonable that the Year 10s will also attend the VET classes on this day. This includes training and assessment held at RTOs, TAFEs, NSSSPs and schools.
See full details on pages 25-26.
Leadership COVID briefing
Thank you to those who attended this morning’s Leadership COVID briefing. Below are briefing notes, along with a video recording of the session.
COVID briefing notes
Face masks are now required for students in years 3-6, only when indoors on school premises, unless an exception applies.
Exceptions for all year levels include:
- Students with a physical or mental disability are not required to wear a face mask where their disability means it would not be suitable.
Refer to page 37 of the current School Operations Guide.
A template letter (Word document) is available for schools to use for mask-related enquiries or concerns.
Public Health Directions No. 6 states that the education operator must collect, record and hold vaccination information (page 2).
This applies to any person contracted to work at an education facility and who will or may be in close proximity to children, students or staff, whether or not engaged by the education operator including casual relief teachers, Breakfast Club suppliers, IT personnel, NDIS providers and auditors, but does not include delivery personnel) (page 10).
Our advice to schools is that this applies to cleaning contractors and we recommend that principals arrange for the collection, recording and storage of the vaccination status of contract cleaners.
Secondary close contacts
Those who have been deemed as secondary close contacts are advised to isolate until they receive a negative test result.
Additional funding for deep cleaning
Schools have received a ‘one-off’ hygiene assistance fund grant last year and a $100k cash flow boost last year which should adequately compensate for any additional cleaning requirements / COVID financial impact this year.
Advice for when a staff member, student or family member advises of contact with a confirmed COVID case
Upon notification that a staff member, student or family member has been in contact with a confirmed COVID case:
- Advise that they must get tested and isolate immediately for 14 days and continue isolating until they receive notification from the Department of Health.
- If the test result comes back negative, no further action needs to be taken by the school.
- If the test result comes back positive, the school needs to wait for notification from the Department of Health, who will then advise on the next steps.
- Please keep your CEB Education Consultant informed.
COVID briefing recording
This morning’s COVID briefing recording is available here.
Vaccination requirements key dates and FAQs
We are awaiting FAQs from CECV in relation to vaccination requirements and will circulate then when they are received.
Employee Relations – COVID-19
The CECV webpage includes a “frequently asked employee entitlement questions COVID-19”. This page provides guidance is in relation to employee entitlements that apply to circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
There was a question about leave arrangements when quarantining in this morning's principal webinar. Please note, miscellaneous paid leave should be provided in the following scenario.
What if an employee has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or has been required to get tested and isolate after visiting a location of a confirmed case of COVID-19?
If a staff member has been informed by the Department of Health they are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if the employee visited a location of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and are required to get a test and self-isolate, but they have not developed symptoms, it is recommended that discussions occur in relation to working from home arrangements during the required self-isolation period. Currently, there are different requirements regarding self-isolation periods and the amount of time a staff member will be required to self-isolate will be determined by the Department of Health. If it is not practicable to work from home during the period of required self-isolation, the staff member may access up to 10 days of paid miscellaneous leave.
In these circumstances, it would be reasonable for an employer to request evidence that demonstrates the employee is accessing the leave due to being classified as having close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or that they visited a location of a confirmed case of COVID-19. The evidence needs to be such that would satisfy a reasonable person that the employee took the leave for this reason.
In any case where a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, they will access their personal leave entitlements.
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)