Independent schools look forward to returning to class

Independent Schools Victoria Chief Executive Michelle Green welcomes the resumption of classroom learning, but notes schools face major challenges.

Independent schools are looking forward to the resumption of normal classroom operations as soon as all the conditions are in place to ensure the safety of staff, students and parents, Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) Chief Executive Michelle Green said today.

Ms Green was commenting on the Victorian Government’s announcement of the gradual and phased resumption of normal operations at government schools, based on the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, that it is safe to do so.

‘Professor Sutton’s advice should give schools the confidence to finalise their own careful plans to return to school-based teaching,’ Ms Green said.

‘Staff and students in Independent schools have been looking forward to getting back into the classroom, as soon as it is safe to do so.’

While the government’s decision is not mandatory for Independent schools, ISV has consistently recommended that its Member Schools follow the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

‘At the same time, we respect the right of our Member Schools to make their own decisions after carefully considering their legal obligations and their own circumstances, and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff, students and the wider community,’ Ms Green said.

A significant number of Independent schools moved to remote and online learning in mid-March, before it was implemented in government schools.

‘Just as they planned for the transition to remote learning, Independent schools have been considering a range of scenarios for the phased resumption of regular school-based operations,’ Ms Green said.

She cautioned that schools faced major challenges in returning to normal. These included ensuring proper sanitation and social distancing, protecting vulnerable members of staff, and avoiding congestion and large gatherings in and around schools.

‘School communities have performed an extraordinary job in maintaining students’ education while playing an important role in countering the community transmission of COVID-19,’ Ms Green said.

‘This has been a particularly challenging time for all schools, their teachers, students and parents. While welcome, the return to school-based education will present its own challenges, to avoid disruption and to ensure the community benefits of recent restrictions are not jeopardised.’

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