Some significant decisions were made today in relation to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on schools.
You may be aware that Education Ministers met this morning to discuss the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and the implications for schools.
They have today decided that NAPLAN testing will not proceed for 2020. Read the announcement.
This decision was made in recognition of the disruption caused to schools by coronavirus (COVID-19). This has created additional work as teachers prepare for the possibility that schools will need to move to more flexible learning programs, including remote learning.
The Coordinated Practice Testing (CPT) that had been scheduled for Monday 23 March 2020 will therefore not proceed. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) has informed schools participating in the CPT that it will no longer proceed.
ADDITIONAL PUPIL-FREE DAYS
Teachers and schools are working hard to prepare for the possibility that we will need to move at some stage to more flexible learning arrangements, including remote learning. The Minister for Education today approved an additional two pupil-free days. The first will be on the last day of this term – Friday next week – and the second will be on the first day of Term 2 after the coming school holidays. This will provide an important opportunity for schools to consolidate their preparations. Please inform your school communities.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
This afternoon the National Cabinet announced new social-distancing measures, among a range of other measures to support our communities as we continue to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
On the recommendation of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the National Cabinet also determined that early childhood settings, schools and higher education institutions remain exempt from these requirements.
We will continue to follow the recommendations of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, and if the advice changes, we will move to implement that advice as quickly as possible.
Based on this advice, schools will continue to be open next week. This is important as we remain firmly committed to ensuring that our children continue to gain the full benefits – both learning and social development – that schools provide. This includes our special schools, which do a wonderful job educating some of our most vulnerable students.
This includes the children of those performing critical services, from our own teaching colleagues and other professions such as health, emergency and transport workers and for students with complex needs and those in vulnerable circumstances.
Students who are required to be self-isolating will be supported to continue their learning at home through a range of on and off-line resources.
We understand, however, that the new social-distancing measures might increase the level of anxiety in our communities.
We want to reassure our parents that next week, Victorian Government schools will remain open and will continue to provide the full range of classroom teaching, learning and social activities that are so important for our students.
We also recognise that some teachers and staff are medically vulnerable and would prefer to work at home at this time. I would appreciate your support in enabling this.
While our schools and teachers are well prepared to commence remote learning, it won’t always be perfect, and we will learn as we go.
If parents choose to keep their children at home, the onus will be on parents in the first instance to support the learning of their children. However, where teachers have capacity, they can support these children. The Learning from Home website is also available for students and parents to use at home, and resources are available on the FUSE website.
Given the challenge posed by coronavirus (COVID-19), it is obviously very important that our schools are safe workplaces. That’s why we’ve increased school cleaning, increased supply of school cleaning products and provided advice to schools around commonsense social-distancing measures.
I want to thank you again for the outstanding leadership you continue to provide in very challenging circumstances.
The daily updates will continue to be provided over the weekend, albeit if only to indicate there have been no further developments.
Dr David Howes
Schools and Regional Services