As Victorians prepare for the beginning of the 2022 school year, the Victorian Government has released its roadmap to keep schools open, with a full suite of COVID-19 measures to keep teachers and families safe.
Surveillance testing, ventilation, vaccinations and comprehensive workforce planning are at the top of the list for schools this year. As well as rapid antigen testing in place for the first four weeks of semester one.
The Government plans to deliver more than 14 million rapid antigen tests to Victorian Schools this year, with an expected 6.6 million tests to be delivered in the first week of the term.
Students and staff at specialist schools will be required to test at least five days each week.
The Government has also added school and early childhood staff to the list of workers in key sectors. This will require staff to receive their third vaccine dose by the 25 February.
51,000 air purification devices will also be delivered to government and low fee non government schools for the first day of Term 1.
An expected 1800 schools are set to receive new shade sails, through the Shade Sail Grant, to assist with keeping outdoor education safe.
The Victorian Government has invested $7.5 million into improved air ventilation for early childhood staff, along with a further $7.4 million to assist kindergarten services with implementing covid-safe measures for their individual settings.
Pop-up vaccine clinics at primary schools this year to ensure all students have received two doses by the end of Term 1 will also be introduced.
In light of staffing challenges, the Victorian Government has classified education staff as critical workers, which will allow them to continue working if they are not presenting any symptoms and return daily negative rapid antigen tests.
Indoor mask wearing will also be mandatory for students in Grade 3 and above, and teachers will be required to wear masks at all times when not actively teaching or communicating with students.
Premier Dan Andrews has said that “face-to-face learning is the best option for our kids’ learning and wellbeing”.
“That’s why we’ve done the work to get kids safely back into the classroom from the start of Term 1, and make sure they stay there,” he said.