Education | October 06, 2021

Country schools, sport can safely reopen sooner

Students in regional Victoria should not have to endure more weeks locked out of the classroom.

According to the Andrews Government’s roadmap, only Prep to Grade 2 and final years students are back in the classroom this week to start to get their studies back on track.

Despite high vaccination rates across regional Victoria, it will still be more than three weeks before all country kids are back at school full-time.

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said regional students had already sacrificed too much after the virus spread out of control in metro Melbourne.

“Regional Victorians are leading the way in doing our bit to protect ourselves and our community.  More than 60 per cent of people aged 15 and over in the Lowan electorate are fully vaccinated, while more than 89 per cent have received their first COVID vaccination,” she said.

“But under Labor’s roadmap, our regional kids will still wait until October 26 to get back to full-time, on-site study.

“Schools in areas where there are no lockdowns should be able to fully reopen, so children and families can get on the road to normal.”

Ms Kealy said the government also needed to urgently review its directions for community sport. Under Labor’s Melbourne-centric roadmap, community sports clubs are still facing weeks on the sidelines, and will only be able to initially return at minimum levels. For some clubs, a return at minimum levels would be unviable.

Ms Kealy has called on the government to ensure community sport can return at adequate levels for fully vaccinated Victorians in regional areas when the state reaches the 70-per-cent vaccination mark.

“Community sport is crucial to the mental wellbeing of Victorians, but our local sports clubs are in ruins after cancelling games and – in many cases – entire seasons in the past 18 months,” she said.

“Double-dose vaccination rates in metropolitan areas are hovering at just over 50 per cent, which means country people will be stuck waiting for the city to catch up.

“Regional Victoria should not be shackled to Melbourne, as has so often been the case during Labor’s management of this pandemic.

“The government must allow regional Victoria to move into the next phase of our recovery when we hit the vaccination targets, so that our schools, businesses and communities can start reopening, rebuilding and recovering sooner.”

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