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McLeish calls for small schools to reopen to all students

Victorian students have faced over 160 days away from their classrooms due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

State Liberal Member for Eildon, Cindy McLeish MP has called on the Andrews Labor Government to allow small schools on the outskirts of metropolitan Melbourne with less than 100 or 50 students to return to school for the duration of Term 4.

Speaking in parliament, Ms McLeish requested the Minister for Education review Victoria’s Roadmap which plans the staggered return of metropolitan Melbourne students on 18 October 2021.

Ms McLeish said, “I have been contacted by a number of small schools who have 50 students or less and are made up of composite grades, who wish to see all students return to school together.”

“To stagger the return of students per year level poses additional challenges for small schools as many are made up of composite classes. In some schools there may only be one Prep student or one Grade 6 student. It would be ridiculous to have that one student return while their classmates aren’t able to.”

In some instances, the State Labor Government’s Roadmap will require teachers of composite grades to teach some of their students face-to-face whilst juggling teaching the remainder of the class online. This would put teachers and schools under significant pressure to accommodate all students.

Separating composite classes could leave students feeling alienated from their peers and regular school environment. This can risk students becoming disconnected from their learning and their friends, which is what many have been experiencing during learning from home.

Ms McLeish continues, “Throughout the Yarra Ranges and Nillumbik Shires, there are many primary schools with less than 50 students. It is a very achievable goal to have all these students back into the classroom for the remainder of Term 4.”

“Instead of the State Labor Government blanketing all metropolitan Melbourne schools with the same roadmap, they need to consider the individual school’s student and staff numbers and location.

“Students have been away from school, their teacher and friends for too long. This is a safe way to do it. It’s time to get students back into the classroom,” Ms McLeish concludes.

The Liberal and Nationals' recently released plan calls for all regional students be allowed to return to school from October 11. A week later on 18 October, metropolitan Melbourne students would return to their schools on a staggered basis, and a week after that all students would be back at school.


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