How COVID-19 Restrictions in Victoria are Affecting Education
As the number of active COVID-19 cases in Victoria exceeded 6,000, state premier Daniel Andrews announced a State of Disaster. This meant that new, level 4, restrictions were put in place, to last until at least 13 September 2020.
- Schools were initially considered low risk for cross infection
- Several secondary schools in the state have been closed due to links with coronavirus outbreaks.
- Parents Victoria and the Victorian Student Representative Council had asked for face to face learning to be stopped temporarily
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These restrictions include a daily curfew from 8 pm until 5 am, a ban on travelling more than 5km from home and a return to remote schooling. While the move away from face to face education was requested by the union for state school principals, it’s still a difficult time for education in the state.
Why return to remote learning in Victoria?
The return to remote education in Victoria is an integral part of the new, harsher measures that have been brought in. It’s a change that has been welcomed by most educators and families. This is because several secondary schools in the state have been closed due to links with coronavirus outbreaks.
Most schools returned to remote schooling from 5 August. However, while most schools are closed in Victoria for normal lessons, onsite supervision is being provided for students who need it. This includes vulnerable children and children whose parents need to work. The restrictions apply to all other students, including those in years 11 and 12 who were previously attending classes in person.
As a result, schools will only be open for certain reasons. These reasons include the supervision of students who need it. They also include the completion of mandatory assessments, cleaning and essential maintenance. Specialist schools are also open in regional Victoria but not in Metropolitan Melbourne.
Concerns regarding the new restrictions
Premier Andrews has already addressed some potential concerns about the new school attendance restrictions. He has done this by stating that all Year 12 graduates will receive an
Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
VCE exams will also still be held and will be completed by 2 December. However, the general achievement test, for VCE students, will now take place at the start of term 4.
It’s also worth mentioning that groups like Parents Victoria and the Victorian Student Representative Council had asked for face to face learning to be stopped temporarily. This is because of the constant disruption being caused by COVID-19 outbreaks linked to schools.
However, there are still concerns around the move to remote schooling. These concerns need to be considered by government, educators and parents.
- The potential for self-harm.
During the early days of the pandemic the number of children self-harming in Victoria was a third higher than for the same period the previous year. This means that the authorities need to balance these potential issues against protecting students from COVID-19.
- The effect on students’ emotional well-being.
Teachers have generally been supportive of the return to remote learning. However, they have expressed concern about the potential effects on the emotional well-being of students. They have insisted that the state government should address concerns about this.
- The social impacts on young people.
Teachers have also raised concerns about the potential social impact on children because they cannot attend school as normal.. This is another factor that the state government needs to consider.
- Issues with access to technology
Remote teaching requires the use of technology and the Internet. This can cause a problem when students do not have access to a device and/or the Internet. It can also make things difficult for teachers who may not be trained to teach in this way.
The return to remote learning in Victoria is set to continue until the end of term 3. This decision has been supported by teachers. However, the state government has been reminded that it needs to consider all of a student’s needs.
This includes considering the impact on the social and emotional well-being of students as well as their physical protection in terms of COVID-19. It will be interesting to see what future actions the state takes regarding these concerns.