Yesterday, the Victorian Education Minister confirmed arrangements for the operation of our schools in Term 2.
I wrote a school update for families attempting to summarise what the organisation will look like next term and the limited options available to parents. Following the publication of the update, the sector principals have received numerous requests and/or expectations that children will be attending school to be supervised. The attendance of any student at the school needs to be approved at least 24 hours beforehand, and this approval will only be given in exceptional and necessary circumstances. If a carer is at home, children need to remain at home. If a carer is working from home, this is not a justification to send a student to school to be supervised.
Many of our secondary students will be safer socially isolating at home and undertaking their online learning program rather than attending school for supervision. This will be decided by a parent with their knowledge of their child’s maturity and responsibility level.

The ‘shut down’ of schools has been done to maximise social isolation and carers should be making every effort to avoid sending their child/ren to school.

The following advice has been provided to clarify the situation at the present.
Teaching and learning
Remote teaching and learning will commence from the beginning of term 2. The remote and on-site teaching and learning programs are to be the same. The on-site program will be a supervision program of students doing the work prepared by their teacher that other students will be doing at home.

Staff attendance on site
The only students who are allowed to attend on site are:

  • children of workers, such as healthcare workers, who cannot work from home
  • vulnerable students
  • small groups of VCE/VCAL students who may be required to undertake limited practical learning activities for very short periods of time.

School staff must work from home, with only those who have agreed to deliver the on-site supervision program to attend the school.
No staff member can be compelled to attend on site, including principals and members of the school leadership team.
Staff who are medically vulnerable or live with a medically vulnerable person are not allowed to attend onsite for any purpose.
There will be a very  limited capacity for staff not involved in the on-site program to attend the workplace if they must for professional purposes (such as collecting learning materials) for very limited periods of time.
Social distancing and hygiene arrangements for staff and students must apply to any on-site attendance.

The clear expectation is that students should only attend school in exceptional and necessary circumstances. As the Education Minister stated in his media release yesterday, “As we act to slow the spread of coronavirus, the message to students and parents of government schools is clear: all children who can learn at home must learn from home – with exceptions only in extremely limited circumstances.”

It is clear that the delivery of the education program in Term 2 will be considerably different to the usual program.  School staff availability to students and parents/carers will be limited to the usual attendance time requirements, with no expectation that staff will be available outside of the usual attendance requirements.

In summary:
Supervision at school will be approved only in exceptional and necessary circumstances.
Supervision at school will mean a staff member is monitoring students doing the online tasks set by their teacher.
Class teachers and subject teachers will not be conducting teaching programs at school – they will be at home preparing and delivering their online program.
For the small group of students who may have to attend school because of extraordinary or necessary circumstances, social isolation policies will apply.

Steve Warner
Manor Lakes P12 College