The Australian state of Victoria has announced it will restart schools on April 14, switching to remote learning mode, which includes providing internet access and laptops to every student until further notice.
Prior to the end of term one, schools had closed down due to the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Premier Daniel Andrews, who issued a statement jointly with state Minister James Merlino on April 7, said all state primary, secondary, and special schools will move to remote and flexible learning and teaching starting next week.
“I know this year will be different to any that students, teachers, and families have experienced before—but we are making sure that our kids still get the education they deserve,” said Andrews.
Internet access should not determine a child’s access to education the joint press release said. To aid in this, the Victorian government has partnered with Telstra to provide free sim cards or portable WIFI devices to 4,000 primary and secondary students in public schools.
Telstra Group executive Michael Ebied AM said they want to help those who lack access, can’t afford access, or don’t have digital ability. The program is in partnership with the Department of Education, and Catholic Education provide “20,000 disadvantaged students and teachers across the country with internet access to educational content to support their online learning.”
On-site learning will be available to students whose parents can’t work from home or to vulnerable students who have no safe learning environment at home.
The Minister for the Coordination of Education and Training – COVID-19 James Merlino said the state will loan out 6,000 laptops and tablets to students.
“Every student will get the support they need, whether they are learning at home or attending school on-site. We will provide a device to every child that needs one and provide thousands more with free internet,” said Merlino in a press release.
Changes for Year 12 Students
Year 12 students sitting for their end-of-year exams will also see some changes to their courses. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority revealed that the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) students sitting for tertiary placements will still receive their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
However, there will be changes to the academic year with exams being postponed until term four, the General Achievement Test test scheduled for October or November, and final exams in December. School-based assessment will also be reduced.
Importantly for Year 12 students, Premier Andrews’ office has asked Victorian universities to delay the start of semester one in 2021 to account for the disruptions caused by the pandemic.