Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for schools

Victoria has begun a staged return to on-site schooling. This follows advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer. Students in Prep – Grade 2, Year 11 and 12 and all students in specialist schools, returned to school on Tuesday 26 May 2020. Students in Grade 3 – Year 10 will continue to learn from home, until they return to on-site schooling on Tuesday 9 June.

For more information, read:
Victorian Chief Health Officer's advice for schools
(docx - 641.08kb)
Victorian Chief Health Officer's advice for schools (pdf - 76.69kb)

Frequently asked questions, updates and guidance notes

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

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

A dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) advice phone line is available for principals, teachers and school staff to ask questions or provide feedback on Department services.

Phone: 1800 338 663
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

School operations

Staged return to on-site teaching

Victorian students, teachers and support staff have begun a staged return to on-site schooling.

The return to school will take place in two stages. This will give the Victorian Chief Health Officer and Government time to monitor and evaluate the effects that the staged return to school has on the increased movement of people and transmission within the community.

Read advice for schools and information for parents about the staged return

For more information about learning from home, read through information for schools, teachers and principals.

Return to School Operations Guide

The Department has developed a Return to School Operations Guide (login required) to support schools manage the return to on-site schooling across Victoria.

The guide includes key operational information and advice to help guide school leaders in implementing a successful return to face-to-face teaching in the classroom.

Returning to work on-site

From and including Monday 25 May, teachers and school staff are expected to attend work on-site. The only exceptions will be staff who meet the criteria set by the Victorian Chief Health Officer and outlined below:

  • aged 70 years and over
  • aged 65 years and over and have chronic medical conditions
  • of any age and have a compromised immune system
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and are aged over 50 with chronic medical conditions.

Read advice for schools and information for parents about the staged return.

Working from home guidance for teaching service employees

This information provides guidance to all ongoing and fixed-term teaching service employees who are working from home as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This guidance also applies to employees engaged directly by the Department or the school council to undertake work on their behalf, if that work is continuing and they are working remotely over this period.

Existing arrangements for flexible work should continue unless alternative arrangements are agreed.

Working from home (remote work) principles

It is the principal's responsibility to make the school-based decisions required to deliver Government education objectives within a framework that enables staff to have input into the decisions that affect their working lives in accordance with the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2017.

When determining the working arrangements that will apply in Term 2, the consultative arrangements in place at each school must be used to ensure staff are consulted on, and have input into, the ways that work may be organised and allocated, particularly the changes to the organisation of the program of instruction to enable remote and onsite teaching and learning.

The following guiding principles may assist:

  • All teaching service employees are encouraged to proactively manage workload and health and safety issues during this time.
  • All teaching service employees should discuss the working from home requirement and how this applies to their particular role and circumstance with their Principal or line manager.
  • Even during this time, the aim of working from home arrangements is to have arrangements that support staff to perform their duties, enable service delivery and be fair and reasonable for all within the current operating context
  • To ensure we all remain connected, employees are encouraged to work with their Principal or line manager to determine matters such as work hours, outcomes, access to systems and information, communication plans and checking in to monitor staff wellbeing.
  • The School Operating Model- transition to flexible and remote learning specifies Staff hours of work at home will be consistent with the attendance arrangements already in place at each school and determined in accordance with the school’s local arrangements.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) is critical for staff wellbeing

Wellbeing is a priority as school staff learn to work in different ways in this uncertain time.

Employees are encouraged to follow the guidance that is provided, including:

Employees should contact their principal or line manager if there are any circumstances that inhibit their ability to work remotely to discuss what might be possible

Reasonable workplace adjustment enables employees with a disability or injury to safely perform the inherent requirements of their job. If you require an adjustment, please contact your Principal or line manager for advice and assistance.

All employees are encouraged to take regular breaks, stretch when they are able and avoid sitting for long periods.

Additional support for employees can also be provided via the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), with video conference capabilities available. Contact the Department’s EAP service on 1300 361 008.

Planning your day and communicating when you are on duty and off

Transitioning to working from home may require new arrangements for some employees.

Employees with personal or caring responsibilities may find it difficult to meet these while working from home and are encouraged to discuss arrangements with their principal or line manager. This may include accessing additional leave.

Teaching service employees who are unwell or are caring for someone who is unwell and needs ongoing attention are encouraged to put their needs first.

In this instance employees may access personal or carer’s leave or any other leave available in the circumstances.

If employees require childcare, and it is not available, employees may access carer’s leave or any other leave available in the circumstances.

Open communication and support while working from home

Principals and employees should identify how and when they will communicate to stay in touch and support each other.

The principal, or a member of the leadership team is encouraged to check in with employees regularly to discuss how work is progressing and discuss any emerging issues.

Keep a register of any office equipment that employees that have taken from the school to commence working remotely. Staff should discuss this with their principal.

For employees who have specific items as a result of prior workplace adjustments, arrangements can be made with their workplace to have those items transported to their home.

Key roles and responsibilities

Employee
  • Discuss any workplace adjustments that you require with your principal or line manager.
  • Consider how you can perform your role while working remotely.
  • Ensure you have access to all relevant information, hardcopy and electronic, that you will need to maintain efficient working from home.
  • Give regard to the separation of work and personal/caring responsibilities; discuss your planned approach with your principal or line manager and review how this is working regularly.
  • Ensure security and confidentiality of work.
  • Notify your principal or line manager immediately if you feel unsafe.
  • Stay connected and maintain appropriate communication links with your principal and work colleagues.
  • Regularly review your remote work arrangements as the situation changes.
Principal or nominees
  • Provide all reasonable support to employees to be safe and productive while working remotely.
  • Be available for confidential discussions regarding remote working arrangements with employees.
  • Consider and support alternative arrangements that balance both the needs of the employee and the operational needs of the workplace.
  • Assess remote working arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
  • Encourage employees to follow the health and safety and wellbeing standards for remote working.
  • Support employees with workplace adjustments carrying over to remote working arrangements and review adjustments with the employee to support them.
  • Support employees to make arrangements to transport the equipment that they need at home to support remote working.
  • Encourage and support team communication.
  • Encourage employees to continue to read information updates that may impact on their working arrangements, including:

Staggered start and finish times

In metropolitan, regional and rural schools where there is any risk of congregation at school entry and exit points, schools must introduce staggered drop-off and pick-up times.

Parents must enter the school grounds only when essential. If they do have to be on site, they must minimise their time and practice physical distancing.

Continuity of learning

To support schools to provide continuity of learning for students, 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 also describes the offline options you can consider 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 they can 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.

Access to devices and networks

For students who do not have access to digital technologies at home, schools can loan them existing devices. Schools can also use a range of funding sources, including equity funding and Camps, Sports, Excursions funding, to purchase equipment that can then be loaned to students free-of-charge.

Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)

Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) will continue to be available during remote and flexible learning but with risk-mitigation measures in place. This is on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.

Schools are required to staff and provide supervision to enrolled students who are attending on site during school operating hours. OSHC service staff will not be supervising students during school operating hours.

However, student attendance at OSHC is not subject to the same restrictions on attendance at schools. This means students learning from home can also attend OSHC programs.

School councils and OSHC providers are encouraged to continue working together to provide care for their communities during this time, including during school holidays, wherever possible.

OSHC providers can provide education and care on official pupil-free days, where this is consistent with their service approval. If a variation to a service approval is required,  contact the Regulatory Authority’s advice line on 1300 307 415.

OSHC and Vacation Care programs will not be able to operate from schools that have been directed by the Department of Health and Human Services to close due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Programs cannot operate from these schools until advised otherwise.

A fact sheet with advice for schools on Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) (docx - 71.26kb) during remote and flexible learning includes responses to questions about OSHC being raised by schools during remote and flexible learning.

Using the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) to purchase devices and internet access

Schools can use CSEF payments to purchase digital technologies to loan to CSEF eligible students who do not have access to digital technologies at home. 

To find out more, visit the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund page.

School Breakfast Clubs

As the staged return to an onsite learning environment begins, schools should restart the delivery of the School Breakfast Clubs program on site.

Find out more about restarting School Breakfast Clubs on site, including cooking classes.

School bus services

School bus travel for specialist schools

From 26 May 2020, all specialist school students will return to school.

  • All currently suspended bus services will be reinstated from 26 May. This includes self-managed school buses. No school bus services are to be suspended from this date.
  • Buses are to resume normal timetable arrangements.
  • Bus usage is expected to be 80 to 90 per cent for the rest of Term 2.
  • The seats behind the driver must remain vacant and sectioned as ‘do not use’.
  • The bus chaperone or supervisor is to be seated away from the driver. Bus operators will coordinate this with their staff.
  • Due to the nature of bus timetables, service connections and interchange requirements, buses may not always be able to observe staggered drop-off times.
  • Schools are to work with bus operators to coordinate arrangements for waiting or queueing outside school grounds if needed.
  • All school bus operators have been and will continue to observe additional cleaning and sanitisation processes. This includes wiping down all tactile surfaces with sanitised wipes or solution after each run.
  • Bus operators are encouraged to provide hand sanitiser for students to use when travelling on the bus.

School bus travel for mainstream schools

Stage 1: from 26 May 2020, students in Prep, grades 1 and 2, and years 11 and 12 will return to school:

  • All currently suspended bus services will be reinstated from 26 May. No school bus services are to be suspended from this date.
  • Buses are to resume normal timetable arrangements.
  • Bus usage is expected to increase to about 30 to 40 per cent of usual usage during Stage 1.
  • The seats behind the driver must remain vacant and sectioned as ‘do not use’.
  • Due to the nature of bus timetables, service connections and interchange requirements, buses may not always be able to observe staggered drop-off times.
  • All school bus operators have been and will continue to observe additional cleaning and sanitisation processes. This includes wiping down all tactile surfaces with sanitised wipes or solution after each run.
  • Bus operators are encouraged to provide hand sanitiser for students to use when travelling on the bus.

Stage 2: from 9 June 2020 all students will return to school:

  • School bus networks will have started operating at full capacity from 26 May.
  • Bus usage is expected to be 80 to 90 per cent for the rest of Term 2.
  • The seats behind the driver will remain vacant and sectioned as ‘do not use’.
  • Due to the nature of bus timetables, service connections and interchange requirements, buses may not always be able to observe staggered drop-off times.
  • All school bus operators have been and will continue to observe additional cleaning and sanitisation processes. This includes wiping down all tactile surfaces with sanitised wipes or solution after each run.
  • Bus operators are encouraged to provide hand sanitiser for students to access when travelling on the bus.

Which school bus service to use

Students should continue to use their normal school bus service (the service they used in Term 1).

If a family is new to the area, has moved house or has other service questions, they should speak with their school’s bus coordinator.

No further services will be added to Victoria’s school bus network.

Principals will monitor this situation and will let you know if this changes.

Student safety on school bus services

School buses and public transport are essential services and are available for students who need to travel.

Additional cleaning on school buses

As with all Victorian public transport services, school bus operators have increased cleaning across the network to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

All school buses will undergo daily cleaning and sanitisation. All high touch point surfaces will be wiped down, including:

  • handrails
  • arm rests
  • steering wheels
  • driver doors.

Physical distancing on school buses and at bus interchanges

Student transport services (public and private) are provided to enable students to travel to/from education facilities. 

To support distancing for adult bus staff, the seating area behind the driver should be kept clear.

If a driver and student supervisor are both onboard, supervisors should be seated away from the driver (potentially at the rear of the bus) to support distancing whilst maintaining care for student travellers.

Physical distancing should be continued for parents and school staff at bus stops, interchanges and school bus loading areas.

Transport for students with additional needs

Services will operate as normal on all Victorian school bus networks. This includes the Students with Disabilities Transport Program.

Reimbursements for families who aren’t using their normal public transport school bus services

Those who have a Myki student pass can apply for a refund from Public Transport Victoria. Phone 1800 800 007.

School Bus Program fares and refunds

The School Bus Program’s ineligible traveller bus fare of $120 per term will be waived for Term 2. Families will still need to complete the normal application process through their school to travel.

If a family has already paid the fare to travel in Term 2 for the School Bus Program, they should contact their school to discuss a refund or that the school retain the fare for future travel costs.

Resources to help run your school

The Department has developed a range of resources to help run your school(login required). 

National assessment program – literacy and numeracy (NAPLAN)

Education Ministers have decided that NAPLAN testing will not proceed for 2020. Read the announcement.

Camps and excursions

All camps 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.

This does not include student and staff travel between campuses of the same school.

School sport

All inter-school sporting events and competitions have been be postponed until further notice.

Use of outdoor school facilities by community sporting clubs and groups

Schools may approve the use of outdoor facilities on school property for the purpose of sport and recreation by community sporting clubs and groups if the following conditions are met.

  • Any community sporting club or group using school facilities must agree to comply with current Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) advice (as amended from time to time) in relation to sport and exercise, including the type(s) of activity permitted and the maximum number of participants. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times, regardless of participant age. Compliance with current DHHS advice is required, regardless of any pre-existing or previous arrangements agreed with a community sporting club or group.
  • Only one group of participants is permitted to use a single facility at a time (e.g. basketball court or oval).
  • Facilities should not be made available for use by a community sporting group if physical distancing (at least 1.5 metres apart) cannot be maintained, for example because of the size of the facility or the facility’s proximity to other facilities that are or will be in use.
  • If multiple sessions will be run back to back, there must be a break of at least 15 minutes between each session to avoid congregation of multiple groups on a school site. For this reason, participants must also be advised that they must not arrive prior to their scheduled start time or remain after the scheduled end time.
  • School facilities cannot be used by local sporting clubs or community groups within 30 minutes of the start or end of the school day. This is to avoid unnecessary mixing with other members of the school community.
  • Access to outdoor facilities should be arranged in such a way that participants do not encounter any staff or students remaining on the school premises, for example, for out-of-hours school care programs.
  • Changing room facilities cannot be used (except for toilets). Where toilets are used, they must be cleaned prior to the next school day.
  • Any sporting equipment that is property of the school cannot be used. Community and sporting groups should use their own equipment, and this should be maintained in accordance with DHHS advice.
  • A register of individuals in attendance at each session must be kept by the community group and provided to the school. This should include individuals’ name, contact phone number, and dates and times they were present.
  • In the event of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school community, all access to school facilities must immediately cease while contact tracing and cleaning of the school premises is undertaken, on the advice of the DHHS.

Further easing of restrictions for sport and exercise are planned after 11.59pm on 21 June.

For information about Victoria’s restrictions on sport and exercise, refer to the DHHS sport and exercise web page.

For information about school operations, including physical education and equipment requirements, refer to the Return to School Operations Guide.

Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)

Stay up to date with advice from the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority on changes to 2020 exams and assessments, read: Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for schools and educators

Vocational education and training (VET)

On 26 May, following advice from the Chief Health Officer, face-to-face provision on school sites begun for senior secondary (Year 11 and 12) VCAL and VCE students, including students undertaking Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs.

Year 10 students undertaking VCE Vocational Education and Training (VET) studies should also attend school for those classes where practicable. This supports the objective of minimising disruption to senior secondary studies as much as possible.

Training delivered to senior secondary students at TAFE/registered training organisations (RTOs)

From 26 May 2020, VCE, VCAL and VET in schools students are able to attend all classes on-site at a RTO (including non-practical classes) if required physical distancing measures can be met.

In some instances, RTOs may not be able to commence training immediately. Schools and RTOs should work together to agree to a date that students can return to on site learning as soon as possible.

Physical distancing guidance:

  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a RTO who are all from the same school are not required to adhere to physical distancing rules.
  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a non-school RTO that involve mixed cohorts from different schools are recommended to practice physical distancing measures where practicable as outlined in the links below.
  • VCE or VCAL students (including VET in schools) undertaking classes at a RTO that involve mixing with adult learners are required to practice physical distancing measures as outlined in the links below.

Schools should speak to TAFEs and RTOs to discuss training delivery options available on-site. Refer to advice on maintaining a safe learning environment within a RTO as provided by the national VET regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

Refer to Department of Health and Human Services advice on maintaining a safe learning environment for staff and students.

If physical distancing requirements are not able to be met

For courses where physical distancing cannot be maintained between school students and adult learners, RTOs will need to consider either delivering components remotely or suspending training until such time as restrictions have been lifted and training can resume as normal.

Deferral and suspension

RTOs are asked by the Department to offer additional or flexible training arrangements in Term 3 and Term 4 so students can catch up on required training, as well as exploring options for delivery over the school holidays and into early 2021.

In partnership with the school, RTOs should consider changing a school student’s VET enrolment, where the option exists to offer alternative VET units that contribute to the VET certificate that the student is currently enrolled in. For example, instead of offering the salon assistant unit, a business studies unit may be substituted to enable the student to complete the VET program.

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority has further information on additional or flexible training arrangements.

Training and work placements for Term 2, 2020

The transition from secondary school to higher education or work is important for long-term outcomes. Allowing VCE and VCAL students to return to on-site schooling reduces disruption to this transition.

Read guidance on training and work placements for Term 2, 2020. This includes:

  • advice on workplace-based training for Vocational Education and Training (VET) and School Based Apprentices and Trainees (SBATs)
  • school flexibility to support students to complete VET and SBATs.

Structured workplace learning and work experience

At the direction of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, a range of physical distancing measures have been put in place to prevent or reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the community. The following advice is about Structured Workplace Learning (SWL) and work experience in this context.

Continuing SWL and work experience

Students can continue their SWL or work experience placements, if the principal is satisfied that:

Principals should consider the following in deciding whether an SWL or work experience placement for a particular student should proceed in Term 2:

  • The extent to which it would be possible and practical for a student to maintain physical distance at the placement in accordance with health advice.
  • The level of supervision an employer would reasonably be able to provide the student to ensure safety measures are adhered to.
  • The extent to which the placement could be regularly monitored by the school.
  • The personal circumstances of the student, including any medical conditions or medical advice about the student’s suitability to undertake the placement.

Where these conditions cannot be met, principals should consider cancelling or deferring SWL and work experience placements until further notice (refer below).

Updated SWL Guidelines and Work Experience Guidelines

The SWL Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.86kb) and Work Experience Guidelines for Employers (docx - 62.72kb) have been revised to include advice relating to reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.

For any continuing SWL or work experience arrangements, it is recommended that schools write to employers to inform them of the revised guidelines and obtain acknowledgement that they have read them. A sample email is provided below:

To: Employer’s email

Cc: School Principal’s email

Dear (employer),

As you are an employer who is currently hosting, or will soon be hosting, a Work Experience or Structured Workplace Learning student, I am writing to advise you that the Department of Education and Training (DET) Work Experience/Structured Workplace Learning Guidelines for Employers [delete item that is not relevant] have been revised.

These Guidelines have been revised to include advice relating to reducing the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace.

It’s important that you read the revised Guidelines relevant to the arrangement type you have entered into. The revised Guidelines are available on the DET website as follows:

Please respond to me by return email to acknowledge that you have received and read these revised guidelines.

Thank you for your support of workplace learning for our students.

Yours sincerely,
Name of Work Experience/Structured Workplace Learning Coordinator [Delete item that is not relevant]
Name of school

Note: The above process is not required for any new SWL or work experience arrangements as schools provide copies of the SWL/Work Experience Guidelines to employers before the placements.

Student and Parental Engagement

For existing and new SWL and work experience placements, it is recommended that the student and the parent/guardian (if the student is under 18 years of age) complete the Additional Structured Workplace Learning Form (COVID-19) (docx - 98.98kb) or the Additional Work Experience Form (COVID-19) (docx - 99.01kb) [whichever is relevant] as an acknowledgement and agreement that COVID-19 may have changed the proposed work environment. A copy of this form should be attached to the SWL or Work Experience Arrangement Form kept at the school (for all existing and new arrangements).

Alternate options to the provision of SWL or work experience

Where the decision has been made to defer an SWL (mandatory/non-mandatory) or work experience placement, schools can identify aspects of placements that may be undertaken remotely. For instance, a student could undertake research on industry and investigate jobs that interest them. Schools should work with employers to identify a process to capture and record student learning.

Where a mandatory SWL placement is cancelled, the school can consider substituting an alternative Unit of Competency from the Vocational Education Training (VET) certificate the student is undertaking that does not require a work placement. The TAFE or RTO will be able to provide details of relevant alternative UOCs.

For VCE Industry and Enterprise, you can find advice on alternative options for SWL during units 1, 2 and 3 where the required hours of SWL have not been met for the unit on the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) website.

Recognition of credit for partially complete SWL

Where students have commenced their SWL, they may be able to obtain credit through SWL Recognition for reflection on their learnings in the workplace. For more information about this process of recognition contact the VCAA VET Unit at vet.vcaa@edumail.vic.gov.au

Process for the cancellation or deferral of SWL or work experience placement

The cancellation or deferral of an SWL or work experience placement takes effect by written notice from a Principal to an employer. A sample notice is provided below:

Dear (employer),

I am writing to advise you that given the current restrictions relating to COVID-19, SWL and Work Experience placements at (Name of school) will be (cancelled/ deferred) until these restrictions are lifted.

This applies to any placements that are currently in process or any new placements yet to commence. Accordingly, please note that the scheduled SWL or work experience placements of students at your workplace will not go ahead until restrictions are lifted.

I would like to thank you for your support for workplace learning for our students. If you are willing to consider the possibility for placements to be re-scheduled for later in the year, please contact (school SWL/work experience coordinator name & telephone or your local LLEN).

Yours sincerely,
Name of Principal
Name of school.

More information

Additional information is available on workplace learning for secondary students.

Further resources are also available for:

For further queries about SWL or work experience placements, contact the Department’s Career Education Unit at career.education@education.vic.gov.au

International student program

The Department is working to support schools hosting international students. The International Education Division is working directly with each of these schools.

If your school takes part in the International Student Program, work closely with your homestay families who are hosting international students so that they:

  • understand the health advice
  • know to seek medical advice where appropriate.

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

The Commonwealth Government has developed advice for international students in Australia: coronavirus (COVID-19) student support

For information you may wish to provide to your homestay families, visit: 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 email international@edumail.vic.gov.au

School cleaning

Schools will be supported to implement enhanced cleaning, including cleaning throughout the day of high-touch surfaces such as bathrooms and door handles.

For detailed information about space requirements, access to cleaning supplies and services, and detailed information about items and areas included in extended cleaning, visit: Access to cleaning supplies and services.

Personal hygiene products

The Department is actively working with product suppliers and cleaning providers to maintain supply of personal hygiene products such as toilet paper, soap and hand sanitiser.

To ensure your school has sufficient supply of hygiene products, visit: Access to cleaning supplies and services.

Deep cleaning of schools impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19)

Where schools are directly impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department will work with the school to undertake a deep clean of the facility.

For detailed information, visit: Access to cleaning supplies and services.

School council meetings

For advice on school council meeting operations during coronavirus (COVID-19) visit School council meetings

Advice for pre-service teacher placements

For advice on Advice for pre-service teacher placements during coronavirus (COVID-19) visit pre-service teacher placements

School canteens

Schools should ensure the highest hygiene practices amongst food handlers where these services are operating, as per the Department of Education and Training Safe Food Handling policy. Sharing of food should not occur.

Hands-on learning spaces

Classes held in 'hands-on' learning spaces that cater for multiple groups of students should continue to operate, noting the Victorian Chief Health Officer's advice that the risk posed to staff and students returning to on-site schooling at this time is very low.

Food technology

Strict hand hygiene should be observed by staff and students during food preparation activities.  

Shared cooking items can be sufficiently cleaned with hot soapy water and benches wiped down with a disinfectant/detergent wipe or cloth.

Sharing of food should not occur.

Art and music

Strict hand hygiene should be followed before and after use of shared equipment in art and music classes.  There is no requirement to clean every shared item between use.

Where practical, high touch shared items can be cleaned with soapy water or wiped down with a detergent/disinfectant wipe.

Interschool music activities should not take place.

Specific considerations

Sharing of musical instruments that are placed in the mouth, such as brass or woodwind instruments, should be avoided. Where used, these must be cleaned and disinfected between use.

Choir and other group music practice, including orchestra, is safe to continue, noting that reducing mixing between classes or year levels is recommended.

Science

Strict hand hygiene should be followed before and after use of shared science equipment.  There is no requirement to clean every shared item between use. Where practical, high touch shared items can be cleaned with soapy water or wiped down with a detergent/disinfectant wipe. 

Health, hygiene and wellbeing

Health and safety during the staged return to on-site schooling

Health and safety advice

This health and safety advice supports schools to continue to provide safe teaching and learning environments for staff and students as schools transition back to on-site schooling. 

Read Health and safety during the return to on-site schooling.

While the Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that students will not be required to maintain physical distancing at school, staff and parents will be supported to practice physical distancing. This will apply until further notice. Changes include:

  • adjusted arrangements for drop off and pick up, including staggered school start and finish times
  • restrictions on access to the school site for anyone other than immediate school staff and students
  • adjustments to how parent-teacher meetings and interviews are conducted.

Key messages:

  • All staff, children and young people who are unwell must stay at home.
  • Hand hygiene, cough etiquette and environmental cleaning are effective ways to reduce transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Adults should keep 1.5m between each other, as the main risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school environment is between adults
  • Parents/carers of children and young people with complex needs should seek medical advice (from the child or young person’s medical practitioner) to support risk assessment and informed decision making about whether on-site education is suitable.

Employee health, safety and wellbeing support

Find information on the supports and structures available to schools to help implement health and safety guidelines and advice.

COVID-19 employee health, safety and wellbeing supports for schools

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for school staff

The Victorian Government has introduced a voluntary Victorian School Staff Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing Scheme for all Victorian school staff from 13 May to 26 May 2020.

This is in addition to widespread testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) available to the Victorian community.

Staff can volunteer for testing if they do or do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find out more about the Victorian School Staff Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing Scheme.

Tailored support during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Tailored and extensive support has been made available for principals and school staff to manage health, safety and wellbeing needs during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Visit the coronavirus (COVID-19) employee health, safety and wellbeing supports for schools OHSMS page for more information on the services and support available to you during this time.

Wellbeing webinars

The Department has introduced a new series of free webinars to help support the wellbeing of all school staff. The sessions provide practical mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies for use through coronavirus (COVID-19) and beyond.

Visit the health and wellbeing webinars page (login required) to:

  • see the topics on offer
  • find the sessions that will be most useful for you at this time.

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 often, 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

Secondary School Immunisation Program for Term 2

Find out about the Secondary School Immunisation Program for Term 2 (login required).

Mental health support

Major incidents such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can have impacts on mental health and wellbeing. It is normal for children and young people to show signs of distress. Common reactions include:

  • fear and anxiety
  • anger and frustration
  • confusion
  • sadness
  • denial. 

The Department's Mental Health Toolkit for Victorian schools provides expert guidance and resources on mental health promotion and support aimed at schools and school communities, health and wellbeing workforces and mental health practitioners.

This includes support specific to coronavirus (COVID-19) including: Mental health support at times of an emergency or natural disaster

For more information and resources to support teaching and learning from home, visit: Learning from home in a school setting

For parent information, resources and support, visit: Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for parents, carers and guardians

For staff

The Department has launched a series of webinars (login required) covering topics such as:

  • managing anxiety
  • building resilience
  • having wellbeing conversations with peers.

There is also a series of webinars for leaders, to help them in supporting their own wellbeing during this time, and that of their teams.

The Employee Assistance Program is available to all Department staff – including their immediate families (aged over 18) – to access personalised psychological support via the phone or video conference. Call 1300 361 008.

Find information on the supports and structures available to schools to help implement health and safety guidelines and advice: COVID-19 employee health, safety and wellbeing supports for schools


Translated health information

Translated health resources about coronavirus (COVID-19) are available:

Interpreting services

Schools can access free interpreting and translating services to communicate with families.

LanguageLoop provides a telephone interpreting service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

LanguageLoop can also offer video interpreting services.

To contact LanguageLoop and find more information, visit the Use an interpreter or translator web page or call (03) 9280 1941.