Executive Director’s Update to Principals #107: COVID Update - 25 Oct 2021
God of the world we create, God of the world you reveal: may our way be not of escape, but of further connection.
May our life be not for ourselves but for you and others still.
May our truth be not
what we shape it to be.
Instead may we accept
the stranger and more glorious truth of what already is: a greater world available
through your divine and selfless love. Amen.
~ The Corrymeela Community
Changes coming into effect on 1 November
As a result of the announcements made by the Premier at yesterday’s press conference (Sunday 24 October), we have now been informed of changes to a range of school activities which will come into effect on Monday 1 November.
This means that camps, interschool sport, excursions, school assemblies, music, singing and performances will be able to take place (in line with the community settings and vaccination requirements).
Face masks will not be required outdoors by teachers or secondary school students but will remain an important part of our classrooms, and in the community.
We have been advised that an updated School Operations Guide will be available reflecting these changes in time for 1 November.
Updated School Operations Guide
The Term 4 School Operations Guide has been updated and is available to download from CEVN.
Please note that this version of the guide is effective now, until the new version is released as noted above.
Some of the changes highlighted in the guide have already been communicated through recent COVID updates. Key changes which have not yet been circulated are noted below. Please also note separate section for additional secondary items.
Visitors to schools – staff travelling between Melbourne and regional Victoria (p 15)
Essential staff are able to travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, testing requirements apply – there is no longer any need for an Authorised Worker permit. See full details on visitors to schools on pages 15-16.
Face masks (p 31)
For all school settings, the Victorian Chief Health Officer:
- Directs school staff and secondary school students to wear a face mask indoors and outdoors at school, including Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs, unless a lawful exception applies.
- Directs primary school students in Year 3 and above to wear a face mask indoors at school, including Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs, unless a lawful exception applies. Face masks can be removed while outdoors at school.
- For composite classes that include students in and above Grade 3 and below Grade 3, those below Grade 3 are strongly encouraged to wear masks.
- Directs school staff and students aged 12 or older must always wear a face mask when travelling to and from school on public transport, taxis or ride share vehicles.
- Directs school staff to wear a face mask while teaching wherever practicable, except
where removal of a face mask is necessary for effective communication.
- Strongly recommends students in Prep to Grade 2 to wear a face mask indoors at school or OSHC program.
- Strongly recommends school students aged under 12 to wear a face mask when travelling to and from school on public transport, taxis or ride share vehicles.
There are a number of lawful reasons for not wearing a face mask, including for staff and students who are unable to wear a face mask due to the nature of their disability, medical or a mental health condition. Parent/carers of a student/s who meet the criteria for an exception must provide their approval in writing for their child/ren to not wear a mask to the school.
Outside of lawful exceptions, schools must treat any deliberate and persistent noncompliance with the face masks direction as a serious matter. Usual school procedures for dealing with non-compliance with school rules should be followed.
A face mask must cover the nose and mouth. Face shields, scarves or bandanas do not meet these requirements. Refusal to wear a mask is breach of the Victorian Chief Health Officer Directions.
Ventilation (p 26)
The below points have been added for Ventilation. See full details on page 26.
Exhaust fans are to be used as much as possible.
Not all mechanical systems can operate using outside air (for example, most split systems). Air conditioners that are unable to bring in outside air should not be considered as providing mechanical ventilation.
Turn on mechanical ventilation, where available and practicable, is to run systems during school hours including when rooms are unoccupied, and if possible ideally 2 hours before and after the use of a space. Where available, timers can be used to manage operation.
Use of natural and mechanical ventilation at the same time
- Natural and mechanical ventilation should be used together as much as practical and possible.
- Air conditioners may be used to provide thermal comfort, however if they cannot use outside air, then they need to be used with other ventilation strategies.
- Using more than one ventilation method creates greater opportunity to create a comfortable learning environment and maximising ventilation.
Singing, brass and woodwind classes (p 19)
Singing and playing wind and brass instruments can occur under Department of Health recommendations if recommendations to reduce transmission risk are followed. Recommendations include moving outdoors, increasing ventilation, physical distancing of two metres between performers and five 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 aircirculating, wind-blowing devices and activities.
Outside of School Hours Care (OSHC) Programs (p 20)
Outside School Hours Care programs can operate for students eligible for onsite supervision across Victoria in line with the staged return to school plan. OSHC programs can operate for students from multiple schools if mixing between students from different schools is minimised where practical and students are only enrolled with one provider.
Summary of key operational requirements (p 9-10)
The summary of key operational requirements from pages 9-10 of the School Operations Guide is below.
Please note in particular:
- School tours are currently not permitted
- It is not yet confirmed whether kinder transition programs will be permitted
- It is not yet confirmed whether statewide transition days will be permitted
- Visitors to schools should be limited to essential only (see full details on pages 15-16)
Additional School Operations Guide updates specific to secondary schools
VCE/VCAL/VET provision in schools, TAFEs, non-school senior secondary providers and other training organisations (p 19)
Students can participate in their VCE or VCAL classes, including VET studies, where these are held at TAFEs, RTOs, non-school senior secondary providers, or schools.
Students in regional Victoria (excluding restricted LGAs) will return to full-time onsite learning.
Full details are on page 19.
School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships
Students undertaking School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs) including Head Start Apprenticeships and Traineeships (HSATs) may continue their employment.
Structured workplace learning (SWL) and work experience (p 20)
Students can participate in Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) and work experience placements. Students who reside in metropolitan Melbourne are permitted to travel into regional Victoria for this purpose, and vice versa. Full details are on page 20.
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)