Update for return to school


Dear Families

Thank you for your efforts in Term 4 to help support the transition to onsite schooling, including getting your family vaccinated and encouraging mask wearing at school.

We are very excited to share that following the vaccination targets in Victoria, the staged return to onsite learning is being brought forward, with all onsite schooling to commence full time from Monday 1 November.

All metropolitan Melbourne students and school levels will return to onsite learning from Monday 1 November, joining regional Victorian students who returned to onsite learning on Friday 22 October.

The earlier return of students to full-time onsite learning is great news for our school community and families.

  • From Monday 1 November, a range of school activities will be able to take place in line with the community
    settings and vaccination requirements)
  • graduations and other assemblies consistent with community density limits
  • travel across Victoria for camps and excursions
  • resume interschool activities such as sport and debating
  • conduct transition programs for kinder students beginning Prep in 2022 and Grade 6 students transitioning to Year 7 in 2022

From Monday 1 November, face masks will no longer be required outdoors by teachers or secondary school students but will remain an important part of our classrooms, and in the community.

We, along with all schools, have taken a number of steps to support onsite learning, including staff vaccination, ventilation, physical distancing for staff and students, staggered start, finish and break times, and mask wearing.

Thank you again for all your support and we very much look forward to welcoming our students back to onsite learning full  time.

Our highest priorities will again include:

  • the wellbeing, particularly the mental health, of every student. This means effectively using all available resources to support our most vulnerable students and continuing to support students to re-establish friendships and class groups when back on site.
  • ensuring students continue to develop their literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills, build their personal and social capability and are physically active. As we continue to deal with this health crisis there remain restrictions placed on us and how we operate as a school. All schools must enact the advice of the Chief Health Officer where they have any onsite learning occurring.

As we continue to deal with this health crisis there remain restrictions placed on us and how we operate as a school. All schools must enact the advice of the Chief Health Officer where they have any onsite learning occurring.

The restrictions in place are largely similar to those that have been in place in previous planned returns to school and the ever-changing landscape means that these measures are subject to change.

Our COVIDSafe strategies will continue to be adjusted over time in line with the changing risk of transmission in the community. Thank you in advance for helping us follow the advice we have been given by the Departments of Health and Education.

Managing safe school arrival and departure including multiple entries

To ensure consistency with physical distancing measures, students and families will be encouraged to maintain 1.5 metres between each other as far as is practicable at the start and end of the school day. The gates will open from 8:40 am and be locked shortly after 9:00am. We will reopen them at 3:20 pm for dismissal, of some classes, at the end of the day. Our staff will be available to welcome students at each gate and support their return to school.

Entrance to school grounds

We request that students of the following Year Levels enter through their designated gate. By opening as many entry and exit points to the school as is safe, and allocating staff to ensure students are safely supervised, we are hoping that students and parents feel safe and confident with their arrival/departure from school – and at the same time helping with physical distancing measures. The maps attached indicate entry and exit points.

  • Foundation A and B students please enter and depart through the gate located on Edithvale Road nearest the School Crossing and opposite the STEM centre. Students will be asked to depart at 3:20 pm via the same gate.
  • Foundation C, D and E students please enter and depart through the gate located on Edithvale Road nearest the School Hall. Students will be asked to depart at 3:30 pm via the same gate
  • Year 1 students please enter and depart through the gate located on Edithvale Road closest to French avenue and near where the new Sensory Garden is. Students in 1A and 1B will be asked to depart at 3:20 pm via the same gate.
  • Year 2 students please enter and depart through the gate located at Haig Avenue. Students in Year 2A and 2B will asked to depart at 3:20 pm via the same gate.
  • Year 3 students please enter and depart through the gate located on Edithvale Rd nearest the School Crossing and opposite the STEM centre. The gate will be open from 8:40 am in readiness for an 8:45 am start
  • Years 4, 5 and 6 students please enter and depart through the gates located on French Avenue. The gate will be open from 8:40 am in readiness for an 8:45 am start
  • Students who have been attending on-site (e.g. Children where both parents/carers are considered authorised workers who cannot work from home, identified as vulnerable, (including via referral from a government agency, or funded family or family violence service, homeless or youth justice service or mental health or other health service) are requested to please enter and depart through the gates located on French Avenue. The gates will be open at 8:40 am in preparation for an 8:45 am start. Students will be asked to leave via the same gates at 3:15 pm
  • Where possible older siblings should collect younger siblings and proceed to a suitable pre-arranged pick-up point
  • In order to reduce adult to adult contact, all parents are respectfully requested to NOT ENTER the school grounds and socially distance when waiting to collect their child
  • Parents can only enter the school grounds in exceptional circumstances and after contacting the school by phone or email as required to organise. An example might be an early pick up for a doctor’s appointment
  • Teachers will help and support children to settle into their classrooms and routines each day
Attendance on-site
  • All unwell students must stay home.
  • All students are expected to attend onsite as their year levels return to onsite learning, unless they are formally registered as being home-schooled.
  • Visitors to school grounds will be limited to those delivering or supporting essential school services and operations.
  • Additional staff, including parent volunteers, can NOT attend school at this time. Activities dependent on and involving parents (e.g. 1:1 reading) have been cancelled.
  • TeamKids are available to support families who need Before and After School Services
Students on-site

We will be continuing to make every effort to minimise the risk of any form of transmission between groups of staff and students as we stagger the return to school. This will mean that we will initially run a modified Specialist timetable. Students may not get to participate in all of these subjects each week, but over the next few weeks they will certainly enjoy some, if not all, of Science, French, Art and Phys Ed.

By reducing the mixing of adults (and where practical, students) we will increase our chances of being able to identify key contacts and be able to act swiftly and effectively if a COVID case is discovered on-site. These workforce bubbles, along with our COVID safe plans give us the best chance of staying open and not having to isolate and be apart from each other completely.

Communication with Staff

Although ALL staff will be on-site the restriction on parents entering school grounds means that communication channels will remain as they have for the last 12 weeks – with a few minor changes.

If you need to communicate with your child’s teacher, please email, via the School email: edithvale.ps@education.vic.gov.au or phone the School on 9772 1393.

Face masks in schools

We receive regular updates and advice from the Departments of Health and Education on recently announced changes to the wearing of masks in school settings. The most current direction we have been given is that for all school settings, the Victorian Chief Health Officer Directs:

  • School staff and secondary school students aged 12 or older must always wear a face mask indoors and outdoors at school, including when attending an Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) program, unless a lawful exception applies.
  • Students aged 12 and over must continue to wear face masks indoors and outdoors, unless a lawful exception applies.
  • That Face masks are required for students in Year 3 to 6, only when indoors on school premises, unless an exception applies.
  • Directs school staff to wear a face mask while teaching wherever practicable, except where removal of a face mask is necessary for effective communication.
  • Strongly recommends children under 12 years of age and students at primary school wear face masks when at school, attending an OSHC program, or when travelling to and from school on public transport, taxis or ride share vehicles.

Schools are required to increase fresh air flow into indoor spaces (including shared spaces, staff areas and thoroughfares) whenever possible. Staff and students should maximise the use of outdoor learning areas or environments wherever possible

Outdoor learning

– Teachers will move lessons outside where practicable. We are lucky enough to have an outdoor classroom and many other areas for students learning. We are currently in the midst of planning to build another outdoor classroom within the school. We encourage students to bring a pair of sunglasses to school for the purpose of working outside. School hats are required for Term 4 as well.

Practise good hygiene

– All staff, students and visitors to schools should undertake regular hand hygiene, particularly on arrival to school, before and after eating, after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the toilet.

Additional cleaning

– Increased COVIDSafe cleaning arrangements will continue for all Victorian government schools. This will include additional cleaning in classrooms every night.

Management of unwell students

It is important that any student who becomes unwell while at school gets tested and returns home. There are sensible steps schools can take while a student awaits collection by a parent or carer as a precaution.

  • Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, cough or sore throat, or loss or change in sense of taste or smell will be isolated in an appropriate space with suitable supervision and students should be collected by a parent or carer as soon as possible. Urgent medical attention should be sought where indicated. It is not suitable for an unwell student to travel home unsupervised.
  • Where students are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the important actions to follow include hand hygiene, physical distance and putting on a surgical face mask (both staff and student where appropriate). See the Department’s guidance for the use of Personal Protective Equipment in education.
  • If the care of an unwell child or young person is to be prolonged (for example, because it will take some hours for a parent to collect a child) and maintaining distance is not practical when providing supervision or direct care, the staff member should wear surgical face mask, gloves, gown and eye protection. See the Department’s guidance for the use of Personal Protective Equipment in education.
  • Health care plans, where relevant, should be updated to provide additional advice on monitoring and identification of the unwell child in the context of COVID-19.
  • If a staff member is unsure whether a student is unwell, they should contact the parent or carer to discuss concerns and take a precautionary approach by requesting the parent or carer to collect their child from school.
  • Students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will be advised to get tested and stay home until they receive a test result. See Managing illness in schools and early childhood services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Where students have been tested, they must isolate at home until they receive their test result.
  • Students are not required to present a medical certificate stating they are fit to return to an education setting after a period of illness, however staff and students should not return until symptoms resolve. If they have been tested for COVID-19, they should also wait for a negative test result. Staff continue to be required to present a medical certificate in accordance with personal leave policy for periods of absence on personal leave.

Each family is encouraged to regularly check the list of public exposure sites in Victoria (where a person with COVID-19 has attended), and if anyone in the family has attended a site at the times listed, follow the instructions given.

COVID-19 vaccination directions for all education workers

The Victorian Chief Health Officer has issued directions for required vaccinations for education workers. These directions are specific to education workers and supersede those for other authorised workers.

All staff who work in schools will be required to have a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 18 October 2021 or be able to produce evidence of a vaccination booking within that week.

All staff are required to be fully vaccinated by 29 November 2021 unless a medical exception
applies and will be required to show evidence of their vaccination status.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your colleagues and students and the whole school community. Getting vaccinated will help slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks in our schools.

The Victorian Government’s coronavirus website has information about COVID-19 vaccines in 63 community languages at Translated information about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Department of Education and Training’s website has frequently asked questions about the vaccine requirement.

To help prepare your child for a return to school, we have included a few tips that we hope will assist in getting our students back up to speed as quickly as possible so that they can successfully transition back to school.

  • Morning Routine: Get back into a routine of being ready to start each day early (when school starts, you will have to build in travel time).
  •  Food: Start preparing snacks and lunches for the day and stick to those (start reducing unscheduled trips to the pantry)
  • Drinking: The drinking taps will be available at school for students to fill their own drink bottle
  • Toilets: School is very different to home, start trying to take scheduled toilet breaks at the times your child will be having their recess and lunch breaks. This will build the body’s ability to lengthen the period between toilet stops.
  • Talk: Talk with your child about what they might expect when school resumes (there are no right or wrong answers as none of us really knows what to expect). Ask what they are looking forward to and reflect on the successes they have had during remote learning. The more confidence and belief they have, the greater the chances of a successful return to school.
Return to School Dates for all students

The School Breakfast Club program will be on hold for the next few weeks and we will be in touch with you when this opens up for all students. In the meantime, we have sourced, and can provide, some fruit (Woolworths) and some breads (Bakers’ Delight) to classrooms each day over the next 3 weeks for students on-site.

I’m very grateful for the incredible efforts of our Edithvale school community during these challenging times. With your ongoing support I am confident that we can all be back on site together soon and keep connected.

Take care and stay strong

James Whitla