Updates & Info for School in 2021

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 4pm Wednesday 22 September 2021.

 

Roadmap for return to school

This afternoon the Premier announced a high level overview of what the return to school will look like in Victoria as part of the roadmap to re-opening. In case you missed it we’ve got all the details for you right here.

Note: all current conditions around vulnerable cohorts and on-site learning remain unchanged.

For a great visual look at this plan check out this post from Minister Merlino.

Confirmed dates
  • Tuesday 5 October the GAT is held in person.
  • Wednesday 6 October on-site learning resumes for all final year VCAL and IB students and students studying VCE Units 3&4.
  • Monday 18 October Foundation students return to the classroom three days a week, Grade 1&2 students return to the classroom two days a week.
Indicative dates

These milestones are tied to specific vaccination targets, the dates given are when the government expects us to reach those vaccination targets.

70% of people over 16 have received a double dose of the vaccine, approximately Tuesday 26 October

  • All school students return to on-site learning for at least part of the week.

80% of people over 16 have received a double dose of the vaccine, approximately Friday 5 November

  • All students return to full-time on-site learning with additional safety measures in place.
  • School is as close to pre-COVID setting as possible. We expect more details on what this will look like in the coming days and weeks.

The Premier also advised that Minister Merlino will have more information in the coming days on the details of the plan, particularly on what is being done to make classrooms safe. We are also working with DET to organise a webinar for students about the return to school and safety measures that will be in place.

We are pleased that schools have such an important place in the roadmap, this is a good indication that the government is listening to and taking seriously student experiences and voices. We are extremely pleased that students’ recommendation for a part time return to school in cohorts has been heard and is reflected in this plan. We really appreciate the time that Minister Merlino, DET and VCAA have given us over the past few weeks to make sure that student voices and perspectives were part of putting together this plan.

Safety precautions

On Wednesday 22 September Minister Merlino announced several measures that are being put in place to ensure the safety of all students and staff as they return to school. These measures will start in week one of Term 4 and be rolled out across the term. Investments and plans 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

This morning (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, we don’t know exactly where yet.
  • The roll out will begin at the end of September across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
  • There will be a hotline and website set up in the next few days so people can start booking appointments – we’ll let you know when those are live.
  • 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.

 

Student vaccination & blitz

All students 12+ are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The Victorian Government aims to fully vaccinate all final year students by the time they sit their exams and provide at least one dose for students 12+ by the end of the school year.

Final year students refers to students who are completing VCAL, VCE, IB or any equivalent including through homeschooling or a non-school senior secondary facility as well as any students who are studying 3/4 VCE subjects.

How to book an appointment

Visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au website or contact the hotline on 1800 675 398.

Starting Monday 6 September final year students (as defined above) as well as their teachers and assessors will be able to book priority appointments from Tuesday 7 to Sunday 19 September. To book a priority appointment you must call the hotline, priority appointments cannot be booked online.

what to bring

Bring your

  • face mask
  • any emails about your vaccination appointment (on your phone is fine)
  • photo identification if you have it, like a passport or learner’s permit
  • your Medicare card

For more information check out our thread, livetweeted during a info webinar last week.

 

The GAT

The GAT has been scheduled for Tuesday 5 August subject to strict COVID-19 protocols at schools. Your school will be able to advise you on how they are keeping you safe and healthy while administering the GAT in person.

On-site assessment

As previously advised schools can now run on-site assessment with up to ten people for approved subjects.

Previously approved subjects include:

  • Unit 3/4 Dance
  • Unit 3/4 Drama
  • Unit 3/4 Music Performance
  • Unit 3/4 Music Investigation
  • Unit 3/4 Theatre Studies
  • VCE VET Engineering Studies
  • VCE VET Integrated Technologies
  • VCE VET Furnishing
  • VCE VET Hospitality Kitchen Operations
  • VCE VET Music Sound Production
  • Music Style and Composition
  • VCE VET Laboratory Skills

Students doing assessment for previously approved subjects must receive a COVID test within 72 hours before their assessment.

From Wednesday 8 September all students in Metro Melbourne are required to get a COVID test within 72 hours before attending onsite for their assessment. Students in rural and regional Victoria are recommended but not required to get tested. Students who travel between metro and rural or regional Victoria must get tested.

A negative result does not have to be received before or shown at the assessment but if the school asks you must show them your result and if you test positive you must notify the school immediately.

Changing VCE study designs

VicSRC had previously requested changes to the study design for VCE students. We have been told that because schools are already teaching Unit 4 changes can’t be made. Because different schools teach areas in unique orders changing the study design now would disadvantage schools who have already taught things that might be cut. Last year the designs were revised in April but in 2021 the seriousness of the public health situation wasn’t apparent until it was too late to make changes.

 

Return to school for rural & regional students
  • Restrictions in regional Victorian (other than Greater Shepparton) will ease from 11.59pm Thursday 9 September.
  • From Friday 10 September students in Foundation, Grades 1 & 2 as well as Year 12 students will return to onsite learning.
We will update as further information becomes available.

 

As always if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below or get in touch at [email protected]