Online learning back for most Vic students

Many Victorian prep to year 10 students will return to online learning.
Many Victorian prep to year 10 students will return to online learning.

Most Victorian students are set to return to online learning as part of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed prep to year 10 students in locked-down metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will learn from home from July 20 until at least August 19.

He said reducing the movement of students and their parents will help drive community transmission of the virus down.

"We can't have the best part of 700,000 students as well as parents moving to and from school, moving around the community, as if there wasn't a lockdown," Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

"That will put at direct risk us achieving our aim and that, of course, is to drive the numbers down at the end of the six-week period and get to a position where we will have control and where we can begin a very cautious program of easing."

Mr Andrews said he expected Catholic and independent schools to also return to online learning.

On-site learning will be available for students whose parents cannot work from home and for students with special needs who attend mainstream schools.

Senior secondary students, year 10 students who study VCE subjects and those who attend specialist schools, meanwhile, will head back to the classroom for face-to-face learning from Monday.

As previously announced by the state government, they will be subject to temperature checks on their arrival.

If a student has a temperature of 37.5C or above, schools will be required to contact parents or carers to arrange for students to return home.

Students in regional and rural parts of Victoria, except for the Mitchell Shire, will also return to on-site learning for term three as planned.

School holidays have been extended for a week for other year levels while teachers prepare.

Unlike the last term when most teachers worked remotely, staff will be based at school.

The premier said he recognised the return to home learning would be challenging, particularly for parents of young children.

"It is not a decision that we take easily. It is going to be very challenging, but it is what must be done, given the circumstances that we face," Mr Andrews said.

The state has recorded a week of triple-digit daily increases in new coronavirus cases, including 273 on Sunday. Almost 1500 cases remain active.

Education Minister James Merlino said almost 50,000 laptops and devices have already been distributed, as well as 26,000 WiFi dongles.

More support and resources will also be made available.

"We know that this is going to be a really challenging time for everyone," Mr Merlino said.

"You did a brilliant job last time, and you will do it again."

He said free sessional kinder for eligible children living in locked-down areas will also be offered for term three.

The funding guarantees $460 for each eligible child enrolled in a funded kindergarten program.

Eligible kindergarten services outside of these areas will get half that subsidy.

Australian Associated Press