Students in Victoria will begin a staged return to classrooms next Tuesday, but the school yard is set to look very different with strict new procedures to be followed.
Victoria's year 12 exams will begin from November 9, following the state's decision to get students back into classrooms before the end of term two.
The state is set to begin a staged return to on-site learning, with students from prep to grade two, year 11 and year 12, and all students in specialist schools returning to classrooms next Tuesday.
Students from grade three to year 10 will learn from home until returning to school on June 9.
Education Minister James Merlino said the results from the state's COVID-19 testing blitz had enabled students to get back to face-to-face learning "earlier than anticipated", allowing the year 12 VCE exams date to be brought forward.
VCE exams will run from November 9 until December 2 – about two weeks later than the usual exam period but much earlier than previous estimates which suggested exams could have been delayed until December or even January next year.
"This provides much needed certainty to our year 12 students," he said.
READ MORE: Tradie tests positive to coronavirus at Melbourne school
"It will mean no disadvantage to Victorian students in terms of university and other pathways. That's an outstanding outcome."
Students will receive their ATAR score before the end of the year.
Mr Merlino said there were no changes to the VCAA curriculum aside from "slight adjustments" to school-based assessment tasks to unit four.
"This two-week difference will provide the time that students need to ensure they can finalise their studies in a very positive way," he said.
May 26: Prep, grade one, grade two, specialist, VCE and VCAL students return to on-site learning.
June 9: All remaining students from years three to 10 to return.
*Immunocompromised students can keep learning from home, vulnerable staff not required to be on-campus.
VCE exams: November 9 to December 2.
General Achievement Test (GAT): September 9.
However, when students return to classrooms school will be "different" for some time, Mr Merlino warned.
Hygiene protocols have been put in place in a bid combat the risk of coronavirus infections, with up to $45 million spent on enhanced cleaning at government schools.
New procedures include staggered pick-up and drop-off times with parents barred from gathering both inside and outside school gates, staggered recess and lunch breaks, regular use of hand sanitiser and washing of hands, as well as closing down drink fountains and moving to a water bottle policy.
"It will be different and it will be different for some time," Mr Merlino said.
But social distancing will not be required in classrooms.
"Teachers themselves will be spread out across the school to ensure that social distancing," Mr Merlino said.
"In a classroom for students there is no need for that social distancing."
School activities which involve large gatherings such as assemblies, camps and excursions have also been axed for the time being.
READ MORE: NSW schools return to classes from 25 May
About 10,000 school staff have been tested for COVID-19 and none have returned a positive test.
There have been 12 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Victoria overnight, with five of those linked to the Cedar Meats outbreak.
Four of the cases have been detected in people under hotel quarantine, two from community screening and one under investigation.
The total number of cases in Victoria is now 1593.
There are 10 people in hospital, including five patients in intensive care.
No new cases recorded were from aged care facilities.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/schools-victoria-return-to-classrooms-vce-exams-date-released/8ca2e8db-0d8c-4c69-b9e1-e24111e455ee