Education Health | September 29, 2021

Regional schools must be given green light to fully reopen

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy has implored the Andrews Labor Government to commit to fully reopening regional schools.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer is due to provide advice on the return to onsite learning for remaining year levels by tomorrow, ahead of term 4 starting next week.

Ms Kealy, who is also the Shadow Minister for Mental Health, said students and their families and teachers needed and deserved certainty after more than 18 months of yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns and school closures.

Currently, only vulnerable children, students in years prep to 2, and students studying VCE units 3 or 4 or final years VCAL are allowed to attend school in regional Victoria.

Ms Kealy said schools in areas with no proven COVID transmission should be open for all students.

“Labor’s one-size-fits-all approach to schools is robbing kids of their futures, and causing substantial hardship for them, their families and their teachers,” she said.

“We know from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s studies that continued lockdowns and school closures were found to be the main risks to the health of children and adolescents during the pandemic.

“Students in our region have missed the equivalent of more than half a year in the classroom since the start of the pandemic, with six consecutive interrupted school terms.

“Teachers have had to plan and re-plan lessons time after time due to the continued yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns and uncertainty about how and where they will be teaching on a given day.

“Parents and carers have faced consistent doubt about whether they will be able to attend work or whether they will need to remain at home for home schooling.

“And everyone has confronted the difficulties that come with remote learning.

“The impact on learning, social interaction and mental health has been immense. This is why it is absolutely imperative that the government stops restricting activities in areas where there has been no proof of COVID transmission, and outlines a clear plan that gives students, families and teachers the certainty and hope they need.

“With no cases of COVID across most of our electorate for more than 12 months, the government needs to ensure that our young people can return to school for the start of term 4.”

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