Dear Parents and Carers
I hope you and your families have enjoyed a relaxing holiday break.
As we prepare to welcome students back to our school next week, the Victorian Government has announced some new measures for the beginning of the 2022 school year across all Victorian schools.
There’s no doubt that this term is going to be challenging for all of us, but we are also very excited to kick off the school year and welcome back all of our students.
The plan maintains the importance of the 3Vs: Ventilation, Vaccination and Vital COVIDSafe steps and introduces some new measures.
To assist with the start of the school year we have provided some answers to common questions below. The information has been taken from our most current Department of Education operating guidelines after receiving advice from the Chief Health Officer and Department of Health
Are rapid Antigen tests available yet?
A. Free rapid antigen tests will be available for the first 4 weeks of Term 1 2022. We have received our first
batch of RATs and we will have these available for families to pick up from our French Avenue gates at these
times. We’ll also be available at these times to answer any questions you have about the Government’s
return to school Plan.
Wednesday January 26 8:00 am-11:00am
Thursday January 27 7:00 am – 10:00 am
Friday January 28 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Tests will be provided in packs of 5 individual tests. Parents/carers should collect one pack for each child for the start of week one. During the second of week of school we will again offer times for the collection of RATs from school for each child for the start of week 3.
Where parents/carers are unable to attend the school to collect the tests, a pack can be provided directly to a student to take home.
What are the rapid antigen testing (RAT)requirements for schools, students and staff?
A. Twice-a-week testing will be strongly recommended for both students and staff.
The department will supply the tests for our school – you do not need to buy your own.
Students and staff will do the tests at home; they only need to report their result if it is COVID-positive. They must report a COVID-positive result to:
- the school by phone or the RA Test Portal; this is so the school can support them, record that they will be absent while in 7-day isolation, and let the rest of the school community know there has been a (anonymous) positive case onsite and that they should monitor for symptoms
- the Department of Health via the COVID-19 Positive Rapid Antigen Test Self-Reporting Form or call centre on 1800 675 398.
What are the Vaccination requirements for parents and staff?
A. Parents and carers must have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or have a valid medical exception (with limited exceptions) to enter school buildings.
All staff working in schools need to be fully vaccinated or have a verified medical exception.
Are COVID-19 vaccinations for students required to attend school?
A. NO. COVID-19 vaccinations for students are not required for students to attend school but vaccination for students is highly encouraged. If your child has not yet had their first dose, you are encouraged to organise this before term begins. For more information on how to book a vaccination, including important information about vaccination for children aged 5 to 11, visit Vaccination information for children and teenagers.
How are positive results managed and reported?
A. Where a positive result is recorded by a student on a rapid antigen test, their parent/carer or student must report that result to the Department of Health via the COVID-19 Positive Rapid Antigen Test Self-Reporting Form or call centre on 1800 675 398.
The parent/carer must also report the result directly to the school, preferably using the new RA Test Portal or by a written note or phone call to the school. Where a note or phone call is used, the school must enter that information into the VicEd COVID Tool. The portal and tool will be live later this week.
The student who has tested positive must isolate for 7 days.
Schools are no longer required to individually identify the close contacts of a positive case. Instead, schools need to
inform the school community, at the earliest opportunity, that:
- there was a positive case onsite
- all members of the school community should monitor closely for symptoms
- staff and students should continue with twice-a-week rapid antigen testing.
What if my child’s teacher is required to isolate?
I know many of you will have questions about what happens if your child’s teacher gets COVID-19. We will be able to bring in extra teachers and other staff if we need them, and we will be doing everything that we can to make sure our school stays safe and open.
Our first port of call is to engage with some Casual Relief Teaching (CRT) staff as per our normal staffing arrangements. As a temporary measure, if there are no staff available we may combine classes in large spaces (including outside).
Does my child need to wear a mask?
A. Students in Year 3 and above must wear a face mask indoors at school, and Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) programs, unless a lawful exception applies. Students must wear face masks even if vaccinated. Students are not required to wear masks outside.
Visitors to schools aged 8 and above must wear a face mask in all indoor spaces- including the reception area and classrooms, unless a lawful exception applies.
Students in Foundation/Prep to Year 2 are strongly recommended to wear a face mask indoors at school or an OSHC program.
A face mask must cover the nose and mouth. Face shields, scarves or bandanas do not meet these requirements.
There are lawful reasons for not wearing a face mask, including for staff and students who are unable to wear a face mask due to the nature of their disability, medical or a mental health condition. Parent/carers of a student/s who meet the criteria for an exception should provide their approval in writing for their child/ren to not wear a mask to the school.
There is no requirement for a letter for a medical exception for not wearing a face mask from a medical practitioner.
What are the Covid safe requirements for visitors and volunteers at school ?
Visitors and volunteers performing work on school sites (both inside and outdoors) must have had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or have a valid medical exception.
Will regular school programs and events run as usual?
Specialist classes (Art, French, Physical education and Science) will run on our timetable. Some extension and support classes may not run if we need to utilise these teachers to cover staff absences due to isolation or illness.
Only as a last resort and ONLY on the advice of the Department of Health AND our Regional Director will we implementing any form of short term remote and flexible learning for identified classes or Year levels.
We will also make sure that classrooms are well ventilated by opening windows and doors, to minimise the risk of infection. We have received 21 air purifiers, which will be used around the school as an added safety measure. These will be placed in the most high risk settings, as outlined in the DET’s Ventililation and Air purification policy (sick bay, learning centre, STEM centre, hallways etc) where there is possible low ventilation and greater chance of exposure to illness.
Vital COVIDSafe steps
Hand hygiene, mask wearing, and social distancing will continue wherever possible in Term 1.
Other information about school operations
Our Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) program will also restart on Monday January 31 with COVID safe plans in place.
All of these steps are critical to ensure we can provide as safe an environment as possible for all students and staff. This is turn will provide us with the opportunity, to have the best possible start to the 2022 school year.
Thank you for your continued support.