The state’s opposition has criticized the back-to-school arrangement plan.
“Face-to-face learning part-time is almost as problematic as distance learning,” said education spokesperson David Hodgett. “There is a huge burden on teachers who use a hybrid model and students can struggle to get to the rhythm of the schools.”
Professor Sutton said schools facing the COVID-19 situation would not be fully immersed in two weeks of isolation measures. It is likely that only those most affected and at risk of spreading the virus will be asked to isolate.
“We certainly won’t have the whole school quarantined for a full 14 days,” he said. The most vulnerable class [will be affected] But other seasons won’t necessarily need to be quarantined at home.”
Prof Goldfield said minimizing school closures was the right approach. “The reasonable thing to do is to look at exactly where the exposure is and try to figure out whether to close the semester or close the year level; that kind of planning would be necessary.”
In August, state Education Secretary James Merlino said Victorian children scored the highest NAPLAN scores in the country and even improved from previous years despite school closures in 2020.
Professor Goldfield cautioned that there are likely to be unequal outcomes from home learning between those who have access to better support and technology, and those who do not.
Evidence from Britain suggests that homeschooled children with strong parental support have embraced home learning, she said. “And those kids who don’t have access to things like parents who can be there all the time or have access to devices or easy access to the Internet, they’re likely to do worse.”
She also warned parents that while they and their children will be excited to return to the classroom, there will be an adjustment period for students.
“It would be great for the kids to go back to school. But there will be a tough two weeks while they adjust.”
The first 51,000 air purifiers ordered by the state government will begin installation in classrooms this week. Two thousand will be installed first in schools in areas with high numbers of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a survey of 44,000 Victorian teachers found that 98.1 percent said they had received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and that 78.1 percent had received both doses.
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