Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced schools will reopen next week but the vast majority of students and teachers will be at home, as the state’s coronavirus death toll rises to 11.
State schools will reopen on Wednesday, April 15, but students who can learn from home, must do so, Mr Andrews said.
“If you can’t learn from home, then schools will be open, and we will run the same courses,” he said.
“We don’t want kids disadvantaged because of circumstances beyond their own control.”
Mr Andrews said some students would not be able to study from home. That would include those with “digital issues” or whose parents were doing important work and could not supervise them.
Small groups of VCE and VCAL students can also attend schools for short periods if learning cannot be carried out at home.
“We’ve got about a million students enrolled in government and non-government schools,” Mr Andrews said.
“We cannot have a million students moving around the Victorian community every day.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan was to meet his state and territory counterparts on Tuesday to devise a national framework for schools for the next six months.
But the difficult issue of what to do with year 12 students who will miss out on months of face-to-face teaching has been pushed back until later this week.
Mr Andrews said year 12 students in Victoria would complete VCE in 2020 and receive an ATAR score, but it was likely to be “a longer year” than expected, with exams to be held in December.
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority is looking at a smaller end-of-year exam schedule, including shortening the length of exams.
“Your child will finish the year. They will receive their VCE or their VCAL certificate,” he said.
Mr Tehan said all options were on the table for final year students.
Year 12 exams are expected to be postponed until at least December across Australia. Universities will likely be asked to delay the start of the 2021 academic year.
However, Mr Tehan has effectively ruled out an extra year of school for year 12 students.
“Every state and territory education minister – and it’s my strong view as well – does not want to see that,” he said.
“We want to make sure that we can get as many students through this year as we possibly can.”
Mr Tehan’s personal preference is adjusting ATAR scores across the country to account for COVID-19, or changing the university assessment system.
“We want to make sure that this year 12 cohort does not suffer as a result of the coronavirus,” he said.
“We want them to be able to pursue their dreams for university, for vocational education, or whether they want to go into work next year.”