Victorian students will finish term one a day early after the state government approved two extra pupil-free days to allow teachers to prepare for online learning if the coronavirus pandemic worsens.
The last day of this term, Friday March 27, will be a pupil free day as will the first day of term two, Tuesday April 14.
"Teachers and schools are working hard to prepare for the possibility that we will need to move at some stage to more flexible learning arrangements, including remote learning," the Victorian Department of Education wrote in a statement to schools late on Friday.
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"The Minister for Education today approved an additional two pupil-free days. This will provide an important opportunity for schools to consolidate their preparations."
As you are aware, teachers and schools are working hard to prepare for the possibility that we will need to move at some stage to more flexible learning arrangements, including remote learning.
"On these days, teachers and leadership will be working on how to continue to provide an educational program to your children, if schools are closed for a period of time," Sebastopol Primary School principal Michelle Wilson wrote to parents.
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"This is an unprecedented time, that will require many things to be refined by schools and families. One aspect is the learning for your children and other is how schools and home communicate if remote learning is directed by the department."
Teachers at schools across Ballarat and Victoria have spent many hours this week preparing for the possibility of schools closing and lessons being delivered remotely should education minister James Merlino decide to close schools to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was the advice of Victoria's chief health officer, every other health officer across the country, and Australia's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy that schools should remain open.
"That is the health advice. Again, I am in no way criticising parents for being concerned. Being anxious, that is a perfectly natural thing," Mr Andrews said in a press conference on Saturday morning.
"I again make the point, the consistent and unanimous advice of chief health offices, the experts, is that schools should remain open
."We have a week to go until we get to school holidays. I want to take this opportunity to thank you, to thank both as the premier and on behalf of my family, every teacher, every worker in our schools, they are doing a fantastic job.
"My kids are at school, the chief health officer's kids are at school, that is the medical advice, that is the advice of experts, that could change. If it does, you will be the first to know."
Many Catholic schools are also believed to be following the advice and also planning pupils free days for the last day of term and the and first day of next term.
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