Victoria’s Roadmap to Return to On-Site Schooling

The Victorian Premier’s announcement of the COVID-19 Roadmap to Reopening was announced on 6 September 2020. A staged approach will apply to schools reopening, with each stage dependent on thresholds that apply to each step.

Whilst many students and staff are eager to return to on-site learning, the numbers of daily cases in Victoria will need to significantly drop in order for this to happen.

Below is a summary of the key elements of the roadmap related to education.

Regional Victoria

  • Specialist schooling will continue as normal, as with on-site supervision for children of permitted workers and vulnerable children.
  • From 14 September, regional childcare and early education will reopen.
  • From 12 October, all year levels can start a staged return to on-site learning, with all the relevant safety measures in place like enhanced cleaning and mandatory wearing of face masks for students aged over 12. These safety measures will remain in place until the threshold for “COVID normal” is reached – no new cases in Victoria for 28 days, no active cases in Victoria and no outbreaks of concern in other states and territories.
  • VCE and VCAL students will return for the start of Term 4 on Monday, 5 October for their General Achievement Test (GAT) on 7 October. Regular classes will not take place this week, only school-based assessments and exams will take place.
  • From 16 October, all students from prep to year 12 return to full-time on-site schooling. Schools are able to stagger the return of different year levels throughout the week.

Metropolitan Melbourne

  • Specialist schooling will continue as normal, as with on-site supervision for children of permitted workers and vulnerable children.
  • VCE and VCAL students in years 10-12 across the state will return for the start of Term 4 on Monday, 5 October for their General Achievement Test (GAT) on 7 October. Regular classes will not take place in this week, only school-based assessments and exams will take place
  • A “second step threshold” occurs when the state reaches an average daily case rate in metro Melbourne of 30 to 50 cases over a 14 day period. If this occurs, then:
    • Childcare and early education can reopen after 28 September and sessional kindergartens can re-open on 5 October.
    • Students from prep to grade 2 and those attending specialist schools will return to classrooms from 12 October.
    • Students in years 10-12 undertaking a VCE or VCAL program can return to classrooms on 12 October for full-time schooling.
    • Students in years 3 – 10 (who are not undertaking VCE or VCAL) will continue remote learning.

How should schools manage year 10 students after the second step threshold is met?

At this stage, the position is unclear for the format for which schools will teach year 10 students who are doing a VCE or VCAL program. If, for example, they are only doing 1 VCE subject, it would appear the current guidelines state they should return to full-time schooling. This will no doubt create logistical issues for teaching for non-VCE and VCAL students, who will still be learning remotely. Due to the lack of government direction dealing with this issue, further clarification may be provided prior to 12 October.

If no further clarification is provided by the government, schools will need to implement their own system for the year 10 curriculum. It may choose to:

  • Conduct year 10 subjects on campus for year 10 VCE/VCAL students and stream them online to all other year 10 students who are still mandated to learn remotely. This could present difficulties for teachers in terms of how they structure and present the class as a fusion of online/face-to-face classes may be difficult to implement and manage; or
  • Have year 10 students attend campus for their VCE/VCAL subject and return home to participate in all other subjects via remote learning. This may present difficulties with timetabling and transport and schools would need to ensure students were able to make it to campus and return home in a timely and safe manner.

The Third Step and Beyond

The “third step” in the roadmap can start after 26 October when the daily average number of cases in the last 14 days is less than 5 statewide and there are less than 5 cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days statewide. This means:

  • Grades 3 to 10 may start returning from October 26, however this is only listed as a “potential staged return” depending on public health advice at the time.

The final stage, “COVID normal” involves no new cases across the state for two weeks. Melbourne will not move to this stage until this threshold is reached on or after 23 November.

Only once all the “COVID normal” thresholds are reached can there be a complete return to on-site learning.

How we can help

If you would like any further assistance with your staged return to school, please do not hesitate to contact us.