Executive Director’s Update to Principals #110: COVID Update - 27 Oct 2021
God of our finite selves,
God of our inward life:
unable to venture out,
our worlds could grow much smaller.
And yet our path with you
can also lead
deep into our inmost parts,
to knitted secrets
we have not yet unwound,
to hidden thoughts
that you have loved.
Give us courage to explore these darker, personal realms, so that the broader peace
we hope to build
might rest upon a peace within.
~ The Corrymeela Community
Updated School Operations Guide
The School Operations Guide has been updated to reflect the settings that will apply from Monday 1 November 2021. The guide provides clear information about a range of activities that will be permitted from Monday 1 November – please ensure you are familiar with these.
Please note, for the remainder of this week the two versions of the School Operations Guide are available:
- The current version, dated Friday 22 October, which will apply until and including Friday 29 October
- The revised version, dated Monday 1 November, which will apply from that date
Key changes from Monday 1 November include:
Travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria (p 4)
A permit is no longer required for those moving between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria for the purpose of permitted education.
Staffing arrangements (p 6)
It continues to be the principal’s responsibility to make the school-based decisions required to deliver education objectives in accordance with the Victorian Catholic Education MultiEnterprise Agreement 2018 (VCEMEA 2018).
Teachers and support staff will be expected to work onsite, except for medically vulnerable staff and staff required to quarantine.
All teachers and support staff who perform work at Victorian government schools are required to comply with the vaccination directions outlined in the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Directions (No 10).
A teacher or support staff member who does not meet the vaccination requirements will not be assigned alternative duties in place of onsite duties. Any such employees will be able to access existing leave entitlements in accordance with the relevant leave policies.
Visitors to schools (p 7)
Visitors to school grounds must comply with vaccination requirements, density limits, face mask requirements, QR code check-ins and practise respiratory etiquette and good hand hygiene.
The density limit of one person per four square metres should be applied to any spaces and activities being attended by parent/carers and other visitors. The density limit applies to all persons in the space, including students.
Playgrounds (p 8)
Playgrounds are open for school use and community use.
Use of school facilities by community and sports groups (p 8)
Use of school facilities by community and sport groups, such as ovals and pools, is permitted if the use aligns with the Open Premises Directions for the relevant activity, including the application of required density limits. Use of facilities during school hours should minimise mixing between those using school facilities and school staff and students (e.g. a swim school’s exclusive use of a school pool and changeroom). Also see ‘use of school facilities’ advice regarding cleaning requirements.
Swimming pools (p 8)
Hydrotherapy, indoor and outdoor pools can be used across Victoria.
- There is no limit on participant numbers where there is exclusive use of a pool facility by a single school at any one time for educational purposes
- Where there is not exclusive use of a pool by a single school, the requirements of the Open Premises Directions apply. Schools should speak to swimming pool venues to determine how the Directions apply to the activity being undertaken.
Physical education and intraschool sport (p8)
Where using an external sporting facility, use of facility must align with the Open Premises Directions. Density limits do not apply where there is exclusive use of the venue by single schools, including school pools and gyms, however schools should continue to apply COVIDSafe principles to decision making, including avoiding interactions in closed spaces and physical distancing where practicable.
Camps and excursions (p 9)
Camps, excursions, and incursions for Victorian schools can resume. Camp providers can now take multiple-school bookings, however these should be minimised wherever possible.
School events, gatherings, and assemblies (p 9)
Outdoor events are strongly encouraged.
Assemblies and other events exclusive to staff and students from single school can resume.
Formals, graduations, liturgies and other ceremonies (including events held off school premises and/or with parents/carers and other guests) can resume from Phase C, however they must align with community settings.
With regard to liturgies, schools should talk with their parish priests to see what is practical and pastorally helpful.
Indoor events will remain subject to the obligations such as caps and density quotients. All eligible adults must be fully vaccinated.
Outdoor events can be held with up to 500 people, with a density quotient of one person per two square metres applied.
Vital COVIDSafe Steps (p 19)
It continues to be recommended that staff 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).
Professional development and staff meetings can resume, however online and remote options are still preferred where practicable.
Maintain physical distancing
A variety of strategies to support physical distancing among all students and staff should be pursued, where possible.
Staff must practise physical distancing 1.5m between themselves and other staff members or adults to the extent that is reasonably practicable. Staff should physically distance themselves from students where appropriate and feasible.
Staff should reduce as far as possible the use of common areas such as staff rooms. Staff should eat and drink outside wherever possible and practicable.
Students should practise physical distancing where possible. Maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres will not always be practical in the school environment and may be particularly challenging in the younger years of primary school. In these contexts, a combination of health and safety measures should be utilised to reduce risk.
See physical distancing strategies on page 19.
Limit public access
Density limits do not apply in classrooms and other spaces for the purposes of student use, including corridors and other shared areas.
Density limits of one person per four square metres apply to staff areas such as staff lunchrooms and areas accessed by the public, such as reception areas.
For public areas, signage must be displayed to indicate the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time.
School staff and secondary school students are directed to wear a face mask indoors at school, including Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs, unless a lawful exception applies.
See full face mask directives on page 21.
CECV has received a letter from Jonathan Kaplan, CEO of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), advising that Catholic schools have been given an exemption from the requirement for a registered school to have a curriculum framework in place that substantially addresses the learning areas set out in Schedule 1 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.) during term four 2021.
The exemption will apply during term four 2021 to Victorian Catholic schools teaching students from Prep to Year 10, while schools continue to deliver remote and flexible learning to some year levels. Once each year level returns to full time onsite learning, the curriculum exemption will cease for that year level.
Student Reporting advice provided in Executive Director’s COVID Update #90 (Monday 4 October) reflects this exemption, with information on the specific reporting requirements for Semester 2 available here.
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…