Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for schools

Frequently asked questions, updates and guidance notes

Information and answers to frequently asked questions is available on the Department's intranet page.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) frequently asked questions and information for schools
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice line

The Department has established a dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) advice line for teachers and staff.

You can call the advice line on 1800 338 663 with any questions or feedback related to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on services. It’s available during business hours.

School operations

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.

The Victorian 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 work with your staff to establish on-site staffing arrangements for the first few weeks of Term 2, in the event that we proceed with the transition to flexible and remote learning and support.

You should also make sure that you have student health and wellbeing support in place for this term. For example, a phone number that students can call if they are feeling anxious or want to talk to a staff member.

Learning from home resources

To help support children’s learning and development in the event their service is closed, a new website for teachers, educators, parents and carers has been launched: Learning from Home

Continuity of learning

To support schools to provide continuity of learning for students in the event of closures, the Department has developed Learning from Home.

Learning from Home provides schools with planning information to support the delivery of learning at home.

It also provides information about the range of online platforms and applications that are available to schools, learning resources and best practice in relation to remote curriculum delivery.

It describes the offline options that can be considered where access to technology might be limited or inappropriate given the needs and ages of children.

Schools should support students who are unable to attend school by providing educational materials that can be completed at home.

Schools with concerns about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on delivery of their teaching and learning programs should visit the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for more information.

National assessment program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN)

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.

Camps and excursions

All camps scheduled to start from and including Tuesday 17 March must be postponed and rescheduled, or, if there is no other option, cancelled.

All excursions outside the school for purposes such as visits to cultural institutions, art galleries, theatres and sporting events or facilities (other than those local facilities regularly used by the school) planned from and including Tuesday 17 March must also be postponed or cancelled.

An exception to this is Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) students attending a prescribed theatre performance for VCE Theatre Studies where the audience will be less than 500 people.

This does not include student and staff travel between campuses of the same school. It also does not include travel by individual staff or small groups of staff to professional development events.

School sport

All inter-school sporting events and competitions from Tuesday 17 March will be postponed immediately until further notice. This includes the following swimming championships:

  • Northern Metropolitan Primary Region
  • Greater Western Primary/Secondary Region
  • Southern Metropolitan Primary Region
  • State Swimming Championships.

Team Vic events including selection trials and training will be cancelled. This also means that Team Vic teams will not be competing in School Sport Australia Championships.

This includes:

  • 13-19 Triathlon – Hervey Bay, QLD
  • 18 and Under Baseball – Lismore, NSW
  • 18 and Under Tennis – Perth, WA
  • 17 and Under Softball – Perth, WA.

Vocational education and training (VET)

VET programs: competency based assessments

As VET programs are based on and contribute to nationally-recognised qualifications, it is not possible for Victoria to adopt a unilateral approach to how these challenges might be managed in the event of extended learning from home scenarios.

We're working with other jurisdictions on this. We'll have advice available as soon as possible.

Network/cluster delivery of VET

Some Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have significant numbers of students attending VET classes from other schools. Many students travel from their home school to another education setting to undertake VET studies. There is no need to cancel these arrangements at present.

For students travelling to another education setting, this is similar to travelling between school campuses. It is not included in the definition of an ‘excursion’.

For RTOs, while the total number of students may be over 500, they'll be working in normal class numbers. There is no need for this to stop.

International student program

The Department is working to support schools hosting students from China and the International Education Division is contacting each of these schools directly.

If your school participates in the International Student Program, work closely with your homestay families who are hosting international students so that they understand the health advice and know to seek medical advice where appropriate.

It is important that you closely monitor the wellbeing of international students, particularly from China, who may feel vulnerable at this time, and connect them to support services as required.

For information you may wish to provide to your homestay families, see: Information for the public - coronavirus (COVID-19)

If your school is part of the International Student Program, there are FAQs available online on the ISP School Toolkit

For specific questions please email international@edumail.vic.gov.au 

Health and hygiene

School cleaning and access to hygiene products

The Department has taken immediate action to undertake extended and additional cleaning in all schools through to the end of term.

This cleaning will focus on high touch points throughout the school. Cleaning will happen progressively throughout the day to make sure that the risks of transmission are reduced.

Depending on the school’s cleaning arrangements, this will either happen automatically from Thursday 19 March (if the school is part of the area-based cleaning model) or through an increase in your schools funding allocation for cleaning.

The Department is aware of the current challenges facing supply of personal hygiene products, such as toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser. We're actively working with product suppliers and cleaning providers.

For more detail on the new cleaning arrangements and steps on how to get hygiene products for your school, see Access to cleaning supplies and services.

If a student or staff member is or has had contact with a confirmed case

If you think a 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 student or staff member in one of the two above categories, you do not need to take further action.

You should continue to encourage good hygiene practices as this is the most effective way of minimising the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Schools should inform the Department by making an IRIS incident alert.

Unwell students and staff

Send unwell students or staff home in accordance with the Department's regular Infectious Diseases Policy.

Unwell students and staff should remain at home until symptoms resolve and seek medical assistance as required.

Social distancing in schools

This National Cabinet has announced new social-distancing measures. 

On the recommendation of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the National Cabinet determined that schools remain exempt from these requirements.

The Department is defining adequate supervision as follows, based on social distancing measures:

  • maximum number of 10 children in a room
  • a minimum teacher-to-student ratio of 1:8 to ensure staff can assist their colleagues with breaks, relief and other support where required. This staffing ratio can include the use of relevant support staff.

Steps to implement social distance strategies

Social distancing is still important to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Schools can take the following practical steps to implement social distancing strategies:

  • Greetings should take the form of non-contact greetings.
  • Where possible, staff and students should endeavour to keep 1.5 metres distance from each other.
  • The highest standards of hygiene should be practiced in staffrooms, including washing drink and food containers with hot water and detergent and regularly wiping down surfaces with disinfectant.
  • Schools should suspend any large gatherings of staff and students at one time, such as whole school or sub-school assemblies and large information evenings.
  • Schools must not hold any outdoor events that involve over 500 people, or indoor events of more than 100 people.
  • In order to reduce the gathering of large groups at any one time, schools should consider staggering the start and finish of the school day (where this does not extend the school day to an unreasonable degree) and staggering recess and lunch breaks and other key transition times.
  • Where students line up to enter class, they should be encouraged to keep 1.5 metres between each other where possible.
  • Where students usually enter and leave class in an unstructured manner, this practice can be changed so students enter in a more structured way so a distance of 1.5 metres is maintained.
  • Students, especially in secondary schools, should be encouraged to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between each other and between themselves and staff.
  • Where possible, classroom furniture should be rearranged to provide maximum space between tables.
  • Seating arrangements should also be changed to maximise distance between students. For example, students can be seated along the short edges and well as long edges of tables, and tables can be moved to the full front, back and side walls of the classroom.
  • Student group work should be suspended, except where students are collaborating using digital technologies.
  • Except for very young students, student work can be handed to a teacher for feedback rather than feedback being provided immediately by the teacher in close proximity to the student.

Maintaining good health hygiene at school

Remind your staff, families and students that everyone can protect against infections by practising good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.

Tips that everyone at your school can follow:

  • cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.
  • dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • wash your hands regularly, after using the toilet, and before eating.

Health promotion materials are available to distribute and promote to your staff, students and families:

If you have any health-related questions, email: health.advice@edumail.vic.gov.au