COVID-19-&-Schools closures

With the exception of one or two hit with the virus, all schools remain open in Victoria. Although most parents are trying their best to keep cool, many are concerned if school closures should have already happened in Victoria to stop or arrest the spread and thus threat posed by coronavirus or COVID-19. The question is – how do authorities see the role schools need to play in both protecting the health of students and staff and in supporting broader efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 virus.

In light of the broader guidelines already issued by authorities to ban all non-essential gatherings of 500 people or more, 14-day self-isolation of all arrivals effective midnight March 15, advice to all Australians to adopt good hygiene habits, take all the necessary steps to help stop the spread if infected and otherwise – exercise, eat healthy, drink lots of water and get adequate sleep, the education department experts have issued the following advice on schools:

Camps & Excursions
All camps scheduled to commence from and including Tuesday 17 March must be postponed and rescheduled, or, if there is no other option, cancelled.

All excursions outside the school for purposes such as visits to cultural institutions, art galleries, theaters and sporting events or facilities (other than those local facilities regularly used by the school) planned from and including Tuesday 17 March must also be postponed or cancelled.

An exception to this will be VCE students attending a prescribed theatre performance for VCE Theatre Studies with the less than 500 people.

International arrivals – students, staff or relatives
The 14-day self-isolation applying to international arrivals will also apply to students and staff who may be returning from overseas excursions or other travel.

It will also include parents and carers and any other relatives or friends of your students who are returning from overseas travel.

Swimming lessons
Swimming lessons that are held at a local swimming pool can continue.

Residential Aged Care visits
Schools are advised not to visit residential aged care facilities.

School closures
On the best medical advice as of now, no government school has been closed or is in the process of being closed.

School program events, parent-teacher events

Gatherings of more than 500 people being prohibited will not affect normal teaching and learning programs. Any school event involving attendance by community members who are not students or staff and where total attendance will exceed 500, will be affected.

Schools with more than 500 students may introduce staggered lunch breaks to avoid causing gatherings of more than 500. Other large in-school student gatherings and events may be postponed, or re-arranged.

Requiring them to cancel assemblies, excursions, travel, some events and conferences, apparently schools have been asked to adopt social distancing measures in order to stall the spread of virus.

Why are schools not being closed?

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday, March 15 that there was a wide discussion about school closures, but the advice is that it would have a negative impact on tackling COVID-19.

This is because taking children out of school would expose them to the broader community and at the same time risks disrupting the availability of critical health workers as they look after their children.

While avoiding school closures, more and more “social distancing” measures are being introduced in schools throughout Australia.

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