Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says his government has not received health advice suggesting schools should return to remote learning, and they will remain open throughout the colder months.
The comments come after the Independent Education Union said Victorian schools should consider making a temporary return to remote learning and cancel camps because of severe staff shortages caused by influenza and COVID-19.
There have been more than 10,000 coronavirus cases a day in Victoria of late, and a surge in influenza cases, making it difficult for schools to replace staff who are off sick. In NSW, cases have hovered around the 8000 mark for the past few days.
The Victorian government maintains that statewide remote learning would be disproportionate to the challenges currently faced by schools, especially after two years of remote learning.
“School was open on day one of term one, it has remained open all throughout the year, and we’re going to keep it open, and we’re going to keep it as close to normal as we possibly can,” Andrews said during a press conference this morning.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino acknowledged schools faced challenges, but said face-to-face learning remained the best option for Victorian children who missed out on it during lockdowns.
“We said at the beginning of the year when we committed to getting students back … that schools will look a bit differently this year, and there will be challenges, and there have been,” Merlino said during the same press conference.
“We’ve got COVID, and we’ve got a nasty flu season, so people are getting crook. But we’ve got principals and assistant principals teaching, we’ve got a pool of retired teachers and principals coming back to school to teach … so it’s all hands on deck.
“It’s about making sure that our kids stay at school, our schools remain open, and it’s best for our students that they get that peer-to-peer experience.”