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.
“Your child will finish the year. They will receive their VCE or their VCAL certificate,” he said.
“If you can’t learn from home, then schools will be open and we will run the same courses.
“We don’t want kids to be disadvantaged because of circumstances beyond their own control.”
The announcement came after a woman in her 80s with COVID-19 died in a Melbourne hospital overnight, taking the state’s death toll to 11.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Victoria reached 1191 after another 33 cases were confirmed.
There are 134 people in hospital and 13 in intensive care.
Mr Andrews said some students would not be able to study from home, for example those with “digital issues” or whose parents were doing important work and could not supervise them.
Small groups of VCE and VCAL students may also need to 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,” he said.
“We cannot have a million students moving around the Victorian community every day.
“All that will do is spread the virus and undermine the really significant progress that we’ve made.”
Education Minister James Merlino said all of term two would be delivered remotely.
“If and when we need to make an announcement on term three, we’ll do that,” he said.
Mr Andrews said year 12 students would complete VCE this year and receive an ATAR score, but it was likely to be “a longer year” than expected with exams set 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.
Plan B for exams for Year 12 students
Mr Merlino said “Plan B” would be to hold exams early in 2021, or derive student scores from the General Achievement Test (GAT), school-based assessments and year 11 work.
Mr Merlino said an announcement would be made later in the year if exams needed to be moved to 2021.
The GAT, which is normally held in June, will be held in October or November and school-based assessments will be reduced depending on the subject to relieve pressure on students and staff.
“Every single VCE and VCAL student will be able to receive their senior secondary certificate,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the Government was working with universities and TAFE institutions to ensure there would be rankings that can be used for student entrance next year.
Universities will be asked to delay the start of the 2021 year to account for impacts on year 12 students.
Every child to receive support
Mr Merlino said the vast majority of students and staff would be studying and working remotely.
“We’ll have small numbers of staff and small numbers of students at each of our schools across Victoria,” he said.
“We’re going to make sure that every child, every student, gets the support that they need. And that will be in the technology space – we’ve got around 4000 SIM cards, 1000 dongles, we’re working with internet providers.
“We’ve got more than 6000 laptops and tablets within the Department of Education and Training, and we’ve got many, many thousands more computers in our schools right across Victoria.
“Every child that needs a laptop or a tablet will receive one.”
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, said he hoped schools would reopen in term 3 or 4 but the decision would depend on whether people obeyed physical distancing measures.
“This is a fragile plateau that we’re on at the moment in terms of the stabilisation of numbers,” he said.
“And there is no crystal ball because it all depends on what the community is doing.”
The Government will work with Food Bank to make sure every child who needs the support of breakfast clubs and lunches gets it.
School buses and student disability transport, and metro transport will run as normal.
Mr Merlino said most teachers would also work from home, and priority would be given to staff with underlying health issues.