Not exactly what we had planned for 2020

So 2020 has been a pretty long year already and we’re only halfway through March. Like you, we’ve been thinking and talking a lot about coronavirus COVID-19 this week as the stories and advice coming from media and government get more intense and urgent. We wanted to share some thoughts, advice and updates to keep you in the loop on those conversations.

Schools, learning and VCE 

Some schools have already been temporarily closed in Victoria and New South Wales. At the moment schools are only being closed when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among students or staff. The Victorian Government Education and Health departments are working together to make sure everyone can stay safe while continuing to learn as part of their school communities, learn more here. DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) are also working with Independent Schools Victoria, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and other bodies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff at non-government schools. Their closure rules may vary, so for more information check out Catholic Education Commission of Victoria’s website and the Independent Schools Victoria website.

DET and VCAA are working hard to make sure students will be able to keep learning if it becomes necessary to close more schools. VCAA have already said they intend to be as flexible as possible when making considerations for this year’s VCE students. We know VCE is a stressful enough time without the extra chaos 2020 has brought, so if you have any specific concerns feel free to leave them in the comments on this post and we will do our best to put you in touch with the right people.

Getting sick 

It’s important to know that people are going to get sick. Early statistics show that this coronavirus is much more contagious than the kind of flu that goes around every winter.

For most people it also isn’t going to be much more serious than that flu. Especially for young, healthy people, getting COVID-19 is not a huge risk; it’s much more dangerous for the elderly, people with weaker immune systems, smokers or those with prior lung-conditions.

But! Even if you are unlikely to experience serious symptoms yourself, even if the risk to your health is low, it’s really important that you take the recommended precautions seriously and take care to avoid passing it on to people who are more vulnerable to severe symptoms.

While getting sick isn’t going to be the end of the world for a lot of us, it’s still important to try avoiding it and to avoid spreading the virus once you have it.

We don’t want people rushing to healthcare services all at once and overloading the already-stretched hospitals and health care workers. When the system is overloaded it suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous to get sick or hurt in any way.

So wash your hands! Avoid touching your face (it’s hard, we know). Do the common-sense things that the sensible people in government and also this adorable Italian grandmother are telling you to! If you’re worried you might be showing symptoms keep calm and check out this handy chart from DHHS, which will tell you not only what to look out for but what to do if you are showing symptoms.

I’m feeling overwhelmed 

That’s okay! It’s a pretty overwhelming time.

Keep doing things that are good for your general and mental health. If you take medication (for any reason), keep doing that. Make sure you get some sunlight and fresh air. Talk to your family and friends, reach out if you need them but also check on people who might not feel able to reach out. Go offline. It’s important to stay alert but not alarmed: turn off your news push notifications and check in on reliable sources (we recommend DHHS and the World Health Organisation) to find out what you actually need to know. There’s a lot of fake news out there so make sure you know where your information is coming from and that you’re thinking critically about it.

If you’re feeling really overwhelmed reach out beyond your usual networks. Kids Helpline and Headspace both offer phone and online chat options.

There’s been a lot of talk about people panic-buying and stockpiling resources. Look for opportunities to shop locally or with marginalised communities who might be affected by racist or discriminatory reactions. But keep in mind that people panic-buying is what’s making it hard for people to get groceries at the moment. It’s a cycle, and if we all stay calm there’s more than enough food and basic supplies for everyone.

What about the economy? 

There’ve been some pretty alarming conversations about the economy going on out there too. That’s a scary thing to hear, especially when you don’t have a lot of economic power or you’re about to graduate and start looking for a career path.

Keep in mind that this has happened before. There have been pandemics, there have been stock market crashes. We’re still here. World finances recover; it’s what they do.

Let’s take some time to ease up on that stomach-clenching feeling and focus on what we can do to protect and be kind to ourselves and those around us.

What about VicSRC? 

That’s a good question, thank you for asking. 😊

At the moment we’re continually assessing how we deliver our programs and events. This is probably the first of a few messages you will see as we work to keep you in loop. We’re lucky to have the Student Voice Hub, our email contacts, our social media and an array of internal digital communication platforms to keep us going.

If and when things change, we will communicate them to you as quickly and clearly as possible.

Until then we hope that you’re safe and well and taking good care of yourselves.

The VicSRC Staff Team.