Here at VicSRC we’re working hard to bring you the latest information on how the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns are going to affect the rest of the 2021 school year. We’re also doing everything we can to get your voices heard at the highest levels of education decision making. We’ll update this page regularly with all the latest information we have on what’s happening with education and what we’re doing and saying about it on your behalf.
Information current as of 3pm Monday 15 November 2021.
Rapid antigen testing & Close contact procedurs
From Monday 22 November:
- All students (vaccinated and unvaccinated) who are identified as a primary close will need to get a standard COVID test immediately, they can then return to school as soon as they have a negative result.
- Rapid antigen testing is strongly recommended for seven days afterwards but is not required.
- You will be able to obtain rapid antigen testing kits from testing centres when you get tested.
- Students who are currently in quarantine due to an existing school exposure can return to school as soon as they provide a negative standard test result.
return to school
All students are currently learning face-to-face unless they have been asked to isolate due to exposure.
All reasonable safety precautions are being put in place to ensure the safety of students and staff during the return to on-site learning.
Current requirements include:
- Ensuring everyone onsite meets the vaccine requirements.
- Taking all steps possible to maximise airflow and ventilation.
- Ensuring everyone wears their face masks.
- Implementing staggered start and finish times to prevent large crowds.
- Maintaining physical distancing and good hygiene practices.
Additional investments and plans being rolled out this term and into 2022 include:
- $190 million package of initiatives for schools to make them safer.
- $125 million for air purifiers for Government and low fee Catholic and Independent schools, focussed on higher risk settings.
- $60 million distributed as grants of up to $25 thousand for Government and low fee Catholic and Independent schools to install shade sails to encourage outdoor learning.
- Ventilation in schools with more C02 monitoring coming over Term 4.
- Required vaccination for all staff at all schools across sectors, first dose by 18 October – this is a directive from the Chief Health Officer.
- Still waiting for approval from TGA for at home antigen testing.
Meeting with the Minister for Education
On Tuesday 7 September VicSRC released a statement calling for greater inclusion of student voice in planning for the remainder of the 2021 school year along with three recommendations from students and a petition supporting those recommendations.
As a result of the support for this petition we met with the Department of Education and Training and VCAA on Thursday 17 September to talk about student recommendations and the rest of the 2021 school year. A huge thank you to all the students who provided feedback and insight for this meeting, because of you we were able to bring lots of different student voices and opinions to the table. Read about what we talked about and the outcomes here.
New mental health support
On Wednesday 15 September the Minister for Education (and Mental Health) announced new support through the ongoing mental and public health crises. You can read the original press release here but we’ve included the key points below.
- The Government is putting more money into immediate mental health support to combat the current mental health crisis.
- The plan is to establish local, accessible services in communities and reduce the burden on emergency departments. This will be done in partnership with existing community health providers.
- There are going to be 20 pop-up services around the state.
- The roll out began at the end of September across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
- There is also more money going into support for specific groups who are at higher risk including money for existing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Controlled Health Organisations, support for parents whose children are experiencing anxiety and peak LGBTIQ+ community organisations.
This is in addition to the current funding and reform happening in response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
VicSRC is pleased by the new support and eager to see the rollout, particularly in underserved regional areas where it will be extremely helpful to students who are struggling with their mental health.