Dear parents and carers,

This is my final Parent Update for Term 3. The main focus of this update will be to provide you with advice about the return to on-site learning for Term 4. I also encourage you to access a short video from myself and our College Captains, which can be viewed here:

Return to on-site learning Term 4

The Echuca College Return to School Plan supports all members of our college community to make an effective transition back to on-site schooling. This includes:

  • staged return for students commencing Monday 12 October
  • all school staff to work on-site from Friday 9 October with exceptions for some staff in identified risk categories, based on medical advice
  • enhanced hygiene practice and cleaning on school sites
  • physical distancing, in particular for adults
  • Temperature checks for all students each day
  • The compulsory wearing of face masks for all members of the college community
  • return of all students for on-site schooling at government schools from Tuesday 13 October

Staged Return

The staged return for Echuca College from the commencement of Term 4 will be as follows:

  • Monday 5 October: Remote and flexible learning continues
  • Wednesday 7 October: GAT (no Year 12 classes)
  • Friday 9 October: Staff planning day for all staff (no online or on-site classes except for Year 12 students)
  • Monday 12 October: Years 7, 11 and 12 student returning1
  • Tuesday 13 October: all remaining students returning
  • Students in Year 7 to Year 10 being supervised on-site will continue remote and flexible learning program (students not able to be supervised at home and for whom no other arrangements can be made2)
  1. Year 10 ‘Fast Tracker’ students will attend their double VCE classes only and will be given Study Leave for their singles on Monday 12 October. In the case where they must remain at the college for the day before or after their VCE class (eg – bus traveller) they will attend their regular timetabled Year 10 classes so they can be supervised by their classroom teacher. Allowances will be made by teaching staff for students who are late to their class due to travelling to and from the college during the day, while there is a mix of on-site and remote delivery taking place. No new content will be introduced during single VCE classes for that day so Year 10 ‘Fast Trackers’ are not
  2. Students in Years 7-10 who cannot work from home will follow their regular timetable and be supervised by their classroom teachers while they undertake remote and flexible learning for the period from Monday 5 October to Monday 12 October as needed (excluding Friday 9 October which will be a student free day).

All students in the year levels returning to on-site schooling are expected to attend school.

Exceptions may exist for medically vulnerable students. It is recommended that parents/carers of students with complex medical needs, seek advice from the student’s medical practitioner to support decision-making about whether on-site education is suitable.

When on-site learning is permitted, we will not provide remote and flexible learning where parents or carers of students elect to keep their child at home, except where this is based on medical advice.

 Transition Programs

Transition programs are an important part of any year and further advice regarding orientation and transition days for 2021 Year 7s, and end-of-year celebrations, assemblies and other events will be provided shortly, noting we will need to operate within limits on large gatherings that apply in the broader Victorian community.

Visitors to the college

Visitors to school grounds will be limited to those delivering or supporting essential school services and operations (e.g. student health and wellbeing services, specialist curriculum programs, maintenance workers).

School assemblies, excursions, camps and other non-essential large gatherings will be postponed or adapted considering use of technology until further notice.

Start and end of day arrangements

The main risk of introducing coronavirus (COVID-19) to the school environment is from adults. Close proximity between adult members of the school community must be avoided, particularly at the start and end of the day.

Parents are directed to observe physical distancing measures by not congregating in areas inside or around the school.

In order to effectively manage the start and end of day arrangements Echuca College will:

  • Encourage parents to enter the school grounds only when essential to do so and contacting the school by phone or email as required
  • Encourage non-contact greetings

In order to support community awareness of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and to help identify children displaying symptoms, Echuca College will undertake temperature screening of students attending on-site. This will be managed through a planned process which will be implemented on the first day of on-site learning in Term 4.

While Echuca College will not be staggering the start and end of day arrangements, we will be putting in place other measures to ensure the safety of the college community, including:

  • opening as many entry and exit points to the school as is safe,
  • Allocating additional staff to ensure students are safely supervised and students and parents feel confident with the arrival/departure from school
  • instructing parents to avoid or minimise time in or around the school grounds
  • displaying signage to remind staff, students and families of the need for changed behaviours

Face coverings in schools

All students and school-based staff must wear face coverings at school, and when travelling to and from school.

Teachers and education support staff are not required to wear face coverings while teaching, but those who wish to do so, can. Teachers will wear face coverings in other areas of the school when not teaching (for example, in the staffroom, on yard duty and when providing first aid or taking temperatures), and when travelling to and from school.

Some students and staff are exempt from these requirements. Any exemptions will need to be supported by medical documentation and by notifying Dorinda Watson at the college on 5482 1133.

Parents/carers will be required to wear face coverings whenever they leave the house, including for school drop off and pick up.

Food and Drink

The college canteen will be open from Monday 12 October. Appropriate physical distancing measures will be put in place for queues. Students who bring their own food need to know refrigeration or heating is unavailable. The kitchen in the Senior Learning Area will also be closed.

Breakfast Club will be operating under strict conditions in line with COVID safe expectations.

All bubble taps at the college will remain turned off. Students will need to bring their own water bottle for use at school. There are facilities in each House to refill water bottles throughout the day.

Mobile Phone Policy

Echuca College’s Mobile Device Policy remains in place, which means students need to place their phone in the locker provided at the beginning of each day. Students who have the COVID SAFE app may activate this immediately before and after school. Echuca College is a managed environment which include records of student, staff and visitor attendance, which can support contact tracing if necessary.

Cleaning Arrangements

Extended and increased cleaning arrangements have been introduced and will continue. This involves progressive cleaning throughout the day to ensure that risks of transmission are reduced for high- touch services.

An increase in the frequency of the regular cleaning beyond what is normally required, using detergent/disinfectant to wipe areas will be undertaken.

Student and Staff Access to Devices

Echuca College will continue to loan existing devices and support internet access to students where possible.

As students return to learning on-site, staff will expect students to bring devices each day. Students will continue to be allowed to take loaned devices home each day to support out of school learning. The devices will remain the property of Echuca College. Because we have loaned all available devices to students, there will not be devices available for loan from the college library. These arrangements will apply until further notice.

To support continuity of engagement and learning in the event of a school site closure, students are encouraged to take their laptop, ipad or other device home each day, along with textbooks or any other essential learning materials.

School Transport

The Student Transport Program will continue operation with enhanced cleaning and physical distancing from adults (driver and other attendants) where practical. Usual timetables will apply.

Students will be instructed to practise hand hygiene before and after catching school transport (i.e. prior to leaving home and at the end of the school day). At the Echuca College bus interchange, students will be expected to practise appropriate physical distancing as they line up for buses at the end of the day.

Hygiene – General Advice

Everyone at Echuca College can protect themselves and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by continuing effective hand hygiene and wearing a face mask. Enhanced hygiene measures should continue during the return to on-site teaching and learning.

Where soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitiser will be provided in every occupied room.

Management of an Unwell Student

Under current circumstances, any student who becomes unwell while at school, will be sent home. The advice is that it is unlikely a student who is unwell with flu-like symptoms will have coronavirus (COVID-19). However, there are some sensible steps Echuca College will be taking while a student awaits collection by a parent or carer as a precaution.

Students experiencing compatible symptoms with coronavirus (COVID-19), such as fever, cough or sore throat, will be isolated in an appropriate space with suitable supervision and collected by a parent/carer as soon as possible. It is not suitable for an unwell student to travel home unsupervised.

Where students are experiencing compatible symptoms with coronavirus (COVID-19), staff who are responsible for their care will follow appropriate measures including hand hygiene, physical distance and (where possible) putting on an appropriate face shield or mask.

If the care of an unwell child or young person is to be prolonged (up to one hour, in line with our sickbay policy) and maintaining distance is not practical when providing direct care, gloves, gown and eye protection will be utilised. The college has purchased appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should this measure need to be taken.

If we are unsure whether a student is unwell, the first action will be to contact the parent/carer to discuss any concerns about the health status of the student. Under current circumstances, the precautionary approach of requesting the parent/carer collect their child will be put in place if concerns remain. A trained staff member will take the temperature of the student, where appropriate, to support any decision making. Gloves will need to be worn for the purpose of taking a temperature.

Please remember, if you, your child, or a family member develops symptoms of a fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, you should get tested at a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing facility and stay home. Any confirmed case, or confirmed close contact of COVID-19 must be reported to the college.

I will continue to provide the Echuca College community with updates throughout Term 4 as needed. In the meantime, I hope your child or children have a fantastic break and we look forward to welcoming them back in Term 4.

As always, take care of yourselves and each other. Regards,

Simon Wood

Acting Principal – Echuca College