Worst-hit Australian state to resume in-person classes

Australia’s Victoria state, the worst-hit in the country by the Covid-19 pandemic, will resume in-person classes from next week, Deputy Premier James Merlino announced on Monday.

While Year 7 students will return to face-to-face learning on October 12, the students of Years 8, 9 and 10 will resume in-person classes from October 26 onwards, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news report quoted Merlino as saying.

In a statement, Merlino said that the decision was taken after updated public health advice regarding Victoria’s progress in defeating the second Covid-19 wave.

Calling Year 7 a “milestone year”, he said: “It’s their foundation year in secondary schools so I’m just so pleased that we’ve had the advice from public health that we can get Year 7s back next week, alongside all primary, VCE/VCAL and special schools.”

Regarding the resumption of classes for the other three grades, the Deputy Premier of Victoria said: “The two weeks gives us time to monitor the impact as we bring back 50,000 Year 7 students alongside all the Years 11 and 12.

“We have this two-week impact to monitor both of the return of those students, the increased movement of people as well as all of the strategies in place at a school level.”

He added that during classes, students and teachers will be required to wear masks at all times and there would be staggered pick-up and drop-off times, along with “physical distancing at the school gate”.

On Monday, Victoria reported nine new Covid-19 cases, without any death, the ABC news report said.

The state’s overall caseload currently stands at 20,209, with 806 deaths.

Australia has so far reported 27,136 coronavirus cases and 894 fatalities.