From the moment it was clear the pandemic was going to infiltrate Australia, and lockdowns were proposed, schools have been a vexed issue. Victoria moved quickly, shutting schools early despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy strongly advising they were safe and should remain open. Premier Daniel Andrews made the right call.
Once the curve was initially flattened, pressure from Canberra to allow students to return to face-to-face teaching soon grew. But Mr Andrews continued his cautious approach, with Victoria being the last state to fully reopen school doors to all students. Again, it was the right call.
Victoria’s second surge of infections put an end to that. On the first day of the winter school holidays, on June 27, there were 41 positive infections recorded in Victoria. By the end of the two-week break that number had rocketed to 273, it was rising. When the stage three lockdown was reinstated in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, the decision on schools was put on hold.
The final call was a compromise. Year 11 and 12 students would return to face-to-face learning, along with children with special needs and year 10 students doing a VCE class, while all others would return to remote learning.