This page includes advice as of 22 February on the emerging outbreak of novel coronavirus.

On Saturday 22 February the Commonwealth Government announced that Year 11 and Year 12 students who are completing their senior secondary schooling can apply for an exemption to the 1 February 2020 COVID19 travel restrictions applied to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China. For more information, please view: Facilitating China-Based Students To Attend Year 11 and 12.

The Department will update this website with further information shortly.

The Commonwealth Government has announced that the travel restrictions for foreign nationals travelling to Australia from mainland China will now remain in place until 29 February 2020.

International students who are in Year 11 and 12 and enrolled in VCE studies in Victoria may be exempt from travel restrictions from mainland China to allow continuity of learning, provided public health requirements can be met.

The Commonwealth Government has implemented strict criteria that these students will be required to meet prior to travelling from China to Australia. These are that the student must:

  • not be unwell on departure
  • not be from Hubei province in China
  • have a stable residential address in Australia to enable self-isolation for 14 days.

As per other travellers from mainland China, on arrival, these students will be required to self-isolate for 14 days before being able to attend school.

The DHHS Information for the education sector factsheet has been developed to support families of VCEs students that are self-isolating at home after returning to Victoria from mainland China.

For parents, carers and guardians

Information for the public – novel coronavirus – Department of Health and Human Service

For international students

The Commonwealth Government has developed a factsheet providing advice for international students travelling to Australia:

Advice for international students travelling to Australia from mainland China

Advice for international students travelling to Australia from mainland China (给从中国大陆前往澳大利亚的国际学生的建议)

For schools, principals and teachers

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed factsheets in English, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese to support schools and their communities: Information for the education sector – novel coronavirus

School attendance

This recommendation is that parents/guardians/carers of students should ensure that any student returning from mainland China (not including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) who was in mainland China on or after Saturday 1 February 2020 is isolated at home and should not attend school until 14 days after they were last in mainland China.

This recommendation does not apply retrospectively. It applies only to students who were in mainland China on or after 1 February 2020.

The existing advice remains that parents/guardians/carers of students should ensure that any student is isolated at home and should not attend school for 14 days:

  • following exposure to any confirmed novel coronavirus case; or
  • after leaving Hubei Province.

This same advice applies to any impacted staff.

Schools should inform their staff, students and families of this advice through your school’s communication channels with parents.

If schools think a student or staff member is a confirmed case or a contact of a confirmed case, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services to discuss further actions via phone: 1300 651 160. Please also inform the Department of Education and Training by making an IRIS incident alert.

In the event that a parent is not aware of the advice from health authorities, and a student arrives at school who should be excluded, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Reassure the student if they are anxious
  2. Move the student to a single room away from others, being mindful of the student’s wellbeing
  3. Contact parents/carers, inform them of the advice from health authorities and ask them to come and collect their child

For more advice on coronavirus, see Information for the education sector – novel coronavirus

Unwell students and staff

In accordance with the Department’s regular Infectious Diseases Policy send unwell students or staff home. Unwell students and staff should remain at home until symptoms resolve and seek medical assistance as required.

Maintaining good health hygiene at school

Remind your staff, families and children that everyone can protect against infections by practising good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. Here are some tips that everyone at your school can follow:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.
  • Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash your hands regularly, after using the toilet, and before eating.

Health promotion materials are available to distribute and promote to your staff, students and families:

If you have any health-related questions, please email: health.advice@edumail.vic.gov.au

Continuity of learning

Schools should support students who are unable to attend school by providing educational materials that can be completed at home.

Schools with concerns about the impact of novel coronavirus on delivery of their teaching and learning programs should visit the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for more information.

International Student Program

The Department is working to support schools hosting students from China and the International Education Division is contacting each of these schools directly.

If you are an International Student Program school, work closely with your homestay families who are hosting international students from China or other areas where the virus has been reported so that they understand the health advice and know to seek medical advice where appropriate.

It is important that you closely monitor the wellbeing of international students, particularly from China, who may feel vulnerable at this time, and connect them to support services as required.
For information you may wish to provide to your homestay families, see: Information for the public – Novel Coronavirus

If your school is part of the International Student Program, there are FAQs available online on the ISP School Toolkit

For specific questions please email international@edumail.vic.gov.au  

International travel

Schools are reminded to monitor the travel advice level from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the SmartTravel website

The Department’s Overseas Travel Requirements and Travel Policy provide advice on the action schools should take at each advice level.

Approval for travel to countries and areas identified as ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider your need to travel’ locations by DFAT must only be given after careful consideration of the risks involved in travelling to such destinations.