This page provides advice to parents and school communities about Catholic education’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and is updated on an ad hoc basis as new information comes to hand.
Please be advised that this is a rapidly evolving situation and therefore advice to school communities will change quickly. Parents should pay attention to all information and advice from their child’s school relating to their community’s response to the Coronavirus.
Updates – Thursday 28 May 2020
Victorian Government Easing of Restrictions
This infographic gives a good overview of Step 2 of the Premier’s easing of restrictions in Victoria, which come into effect at 11.59pm on Sunday 31 May.
Updates – Thursday 14 May 2020
Back to School Plan for Victoria
The Premier has announced that a phased return to school is planned for Victorian students:
- Monday 25 May –
- Pupil free day
- Teachers return
- Tuesday 26 May –
- Return of Foundation, Years 1 and 2, Years 11 and 12
- Special schools resume
- Tuesday 9 June –
- Return of Years 3-10
This infographic published by the Herald Sun provides a visual summary (scroll 1/3 down the page).
Updates – Tuesday 5 May 2020
Return to School
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated unprecedented action by Catholic schools in the Diocese of Ballarat and I acknowledge that negotiating these events has been difficult for families and for schools. Thank you to all families that have supported our schools to follow the advice of the Victorian Premier that “if you can learn from home, you must learn from home”. We are so grateful for the partnership between parents and schools in these challenging times.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) and Catholic schools across our state are following the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, which included moving students to remote and flexible learning and care from the commencement of Term 2.
As this advice changes, CEOB will work with schools to ensure that a staged and supported return to school is managed for all students. In the meantime, our schools will continue to provide the best range of remote and flexible learning arrangements possible within their resourcing to ensure that every student’s learning is well supported.
If you need support managing your child’s learning, please do not hesitate to contact your school and discuss options for further support.
Updates – Tuesday 28 April 2020
This video message for families from Catholic Education Office Ballarat thanks parents and carers for their efforts to partner with schools at this time, and thanks staff for their professionalism. It also provides information about fee relief for families who are experiencing difficulty paying school fees.
Online Safety Webinar – eSafety Commissioner
Updates – Wednesday 22 April 2020
Special Video Message from Principals for Families
Here is a special video message from our Principals to our School Communities/families. The message offers support, reassurance and encouragement around having children at home for an indefinite period. It also provides ideas on how to approach learning effectively at home and ways for families to stay connected and involved.
As much as ever we need to stay socially connected, building partnerships and emotional connections. So while it remains important to take precautions for our physical health, our social and emotional wellbeing should not be forgotten.
Don’t cancel your regular dinner or work social time, just move it online or over the phone. You might be seeing people face-to-face less often, but continuing to socialise with family, friends and colleagues will help you feel more connected and give you a sense of normality.
Chat online and ask friends if they’re OK. Many of us have access to devices that allow us to stay in touch with our family, friends and colleagues online. If you know people that live alone or might be doing it extra tough during this time, reach out with a friendly message asking them if they’re OK. If they say they’re fine but you’re concerned they might be struggling, give them a call, ask again and let them know you’re here for them. For tips on how to ask, visit www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask
Stage 3 Restrictions in Victoria Reminder
The State of Emergency declared last month, has been extended until midnight 11 May 2020.
There are only 4 reasons to be out:
- shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
- medical, care or compassionate needs
- exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
- work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
If students can learn from home, then they must.
However for students that will be attending school:
- They will be supervised and undertake the same learning as students learning from home.
- School play-time and the use of school playgrounds (during school hours) is allowed as long as the following steps are adhered to:
- Wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser when entering school, and at regular intervals before and after handling play equipment,
- Stop activities that lead to mixing between classes and years
- Avoid queuing
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that many people touch;
- Sanitised wiping of play equipment at the start and finish of each session
- Don’t mix food-time and play-time
- Maintain physical distancing
Fee Relief for Families
There is fee relief available for families financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents/Carers can contact their child’s school to obtain an application form.
Updates – Tuesday 7 April 2020
As per the latest government advice, gatherings are now restricted to no more than 2 people except for members of your immediate household and for work or education.
Learning from Home Safely
When our students are learning from home, we want to be sure that they are as safe as possible. Each school has in place strict guidelines for teachers and learning support officers who will be making contact with students who are learning from home. It is important that parents and carers understand their responsibility for the safety of children and young people in the home learning environment.
The following resources may help:
- Special Report: Preparing for Remote Learning
- Taming the technology
- COVID-19: keeping schools and learning safe online
- COVID-19: an online safety kit for parents and carers
- Classroom resources – online safety to primary and secondary students
- Parent resource hub – information about establishing safe learning environments at home
- Report cyberbullying – information targeted to a child under the age of 18
- Toolkit for schools
Updates – Tuesday 31 March 2020
Under the Stage 3 restrictions, which came into effect at 11:59pm Monday 30 March 2020, what was previously advice about staying home is now enforceable. Stage 3 restrictions will be in place for 4 weeks and reviewed as required. If people breach these directions, they face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Larger fines can also be issued through the courts.
In Victoria there are now only 4 reasons to be out:
- Shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
- Medical, care or compassionate needs
- Exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
- Work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
For many Victorians this is an economic crisis as well as a health crisis. A moratorium on evictions will be introduced for the next 6 months for residential and commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus. This will apply across all states and territories.
Can I still go outside with my children? Can we play in the park?
You can go outside with your children for the purposes of exercise and fresh air. This does not mean that you should spend the day outside because everyone who can stay home must stay home. This is absolutely essential to slow the spread of the virus, protect our health system and save lives.
Playgrounds, public exercise equipment, and skate parks are now closed.
Updates – Wednesday 25 March 2020
Last Monday, the Victorian Government, with the support of the Chief Health Officer, announced additional steps to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), including bringing forward the school holidays in Victoria to commence from Tuesday 24 March.
School staff are continuing to work this week and to plan for continuity of student learning in the event of schools being closed.
Please contact your school directly for advice on arrangements for the commencement of Term 2.
Catholic education and coronavirus
The first priority of Catholic schools is the health and safety of the students in their care.
Catholic schools are well-prepared for the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Catholic education is working with the government and independent school sectors, and acting on the latest advice provided by the Australian and Victorian Chief Medical Officers to the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd, to ensure that our practices are helping to keep our school communities safe from the outbreak.
As parents, you have a critical role in helping the school manage this situation:
- Exercise good judgment by keeping children home if they are feeling unwell for any reason
- Talk to children about the situation, as they may be feeling anxious or stressed. You have a key role in helping students feel prepared and safe
- Encourage children to be proactive and committed to their schoolwork, and to stay connected with the school and their teachers.
Updated travel restrictions
Visitors who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, or their dependants, are not permitted to enter Australia.
Australians returning from overseas are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Parents, guardians or carers should ensure that any child returning from overseas is isolated at home and should not attend school until 14 days after they returned to Australia.
This advice also applies to any impacted staff.
The Australian Government advises all Australians not to travel overseas at this time.
Exemptions for Year 11 and 12 students
The Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino, and the Chief Health Officer (along with federal Ministers for Education and Health) announced that international students who are in Year 11 and 12 and enrolled in VCE studies in Victoria may be exempt from travel restrictions from mainland China if they meet strict criteria set by the government.
If this applies to your child, please contact your school for more information.
If a child, student or staff member is or has had contact with a confirmed case
If you think a child, student or staff member is a confirmed case or has been in close contact with a confirmed case, contact DHHS on 1300 651 160 to discuss what to do next.
DHHS defines ‘close contact’ as someone who has either:
- had at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- shared a closed space for more than two hours with someone who is a confirmed case.
Unless you have a child, student or staff member in one of the two above categories, you do not need to take further action.
If your child is a confirmed case or has been in close contact with a confirmed case, please inform their school.
Start of Term 2
School staff will return on Tuesday 14 April. This will be a pupil free day.
Students will return on Wednesday 15 April.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer will advise on whether the transition to flexible and remote learning and support should commence on the first student day of Term 2 closer to the time.
You should check your school’s website or newsletters/correspondence closer to the date to see what arrangements are in place for the start of Term 2.
Education Ministers have decided that NAPLAN testing will not proceed for 2020. Read the announcement.
This decision was made in recognition of the disruption caused to schools by coronavirus (COVID-19). This has created additional work as teachers prepare for the possibility that schools will need to move to more flexible learning programs, including remote learning.