The majority of school students in the greater Melbourne region and Mitchell Shire will return to homeschooling for a month as the Victorian state government struggles to control the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
Victoria recorded 273 new COVID-19 cases on July 12, the eighth-day of record-breaking, triple-digit figures.
The state’s leader, Premier Daniel Andrews, confirmed on Sunday that after the school holiday’s are extended by one week, prep to year ten students will go back to homeschooling from July 20 until around August 19.
“I know this will be very very challenging for many, many parents that there is simply no alternative,” Andrews said at a press conference.
Year 11 and 12 students are exempt from the homeschooling rule, as are year 10 VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) students and those specialist school pupils who’ve all returned to face-to-face learning.
Federal education minister Dan Tehan and disability support organisations welcomed the decision to keep schools open for students with disabilities.
In an interview with ABC News Breakfast, Tehan said he agreed with keeping schools open for the upper age groups, regional schools, and those for disabled children.
“I think that is the right approach that they’ve taken, they’ve tried to keep as many schools open for as many students as possible, and the federal government supports that,” he said.
The chief executive of autism organisation Amaze, Fiona Sharkie said in a joint media release with the Association for Children with Disability: “We appreciate the Victorian Government’s commitment to better address the needs of students with disability and special needs in this second phase of school disruptions.”
During the first lockdown, Tehan strongly opposed the Victorian Labor government’s strict measures to keep schools closed.
In May, Tehan shared a study by James Cook University on Twitter stating this was proof that schools should stay open writing: “Further proof. ‘Schools are not the problem here.'”
A James Cook University professor published a study in May showing that it was safe for children to return to school.
The study concluded that closing schools had minimal impact on COVID-19 transmission.
Further proof. “Schools are not the problem here.” https://t.co/7SW9eVIco3
— Dan Tehan (@DanTehanWannon) May 13, 2020