Primary school hit by virus outbreak goes back to remote learning

Jun 1, 2020 by

Two schools in Melbourne’s north-west remained closed for deep cleaning on Monday after students tested positive to COVID-19 last week, with one school telling families it would revert to remote learning until further notice.

But students doing vocational subjects will continue to travel to other campuses to take practical classes, despite one positive case forcing students at three schools into isolation last week.

Holy Eucharist Primary School in St Albans South remained closed for deep cleaning on Monday.
Holy Eucharist Primary School in St Albans South remained closed for deep cleaning on Monday. Credit:Luis Ascui

The state’s health minister and chief health officer expressed optimism on the weekend that the schools would be in a position open, but Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that the Victorian government was taking “a pretty conservative approach” to reopening.

Four new cases of coronavirus were reported in Victoria on Monday, including one linked to the Rydges Hotel cluster in Carlton. None were linked to the Keilor Downs community cluster behind the closures of Keilor Downs College and Holy Eucharist Primary School last week.

Families at Holy Eucharist Primary School in St Albans South were told students at all year levels will revert to online learning until further notice.

“The safety of students and staff is our highest priority,” principal Jeff Parker said.

“Advice in relation to when the school will be able to safely reopen will be provided to our community as soon as possible.”

Keilor Downs College is expected to reopen on Tuesday.

Mayor of Brimbank Council Georgina Papafotiou, said she would feel unsafe if she was a staff member at one of the schools and had to return to work.

Speaking on radio station 3AW Cr Papafotiou was asked if she, as a former teacher, would feel comfortable turning up to work today.

“Personally, probably not,” she said.

Four schools in the City of Brimbank have been affected by the Keilor Downs outbreak and Cr Papafotiou said at least one of the schools in her council area, which she declined to name, should not reopen “until we find out if there have been any other students affected by it”.

Cr Papafotiou later released a statement clarifying that she was “confident schools in the area are doing their best to follow the advice of health authorities”.

Eighty students at Keilor Downs College are in self-isolation after coming into contact with an infected student, as are 20 students from Holy Eucharist.

Three students are in quarantine after one of their classmates at Keilor Downs College tested positive to COVID-19.

Six students from Taylors Lakes Secondary College and one St Albans Secondary College student had also been quarantined after they attended a VET class with the infected student at Keilor Downs College last Tuesday, their first day back in class after lockdown.

Vocational education and training, or VET, students regularly travel to other schools to take certain subjects.

The Department of Education and Training said this practice would continue, given there had been no recommendation by the chief health officer to enforce additional social distancing among senior students.

“On advice of the chief health officer, Victorian VCE and VCAL students transitioned back to face-to-face learning from 26 May,” a spokesperson said.

“Students in Years 10 to 12 can participate in their VCE or VCAL classes, including VET studies, where these are held in other schools.”

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy sympathised with the VET students who had been sent into isolation so soon after returning to practical classes.

“It would be hard for those students when they have been missing out on doing certain tasks,” Ms McHardy said.

She said inter-campus VET classes should continue, with arrangements in place to ensure students’ health and safety.

“The chief health officer and the government have been clear that there would be further outbreaks, its just how we manage those outbreaks.”

Source: Education | Latest News & Analysis | The Age

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