Thanks to all families for their ongoing support as we work through the current COVID-19 situation. The information below was sent out via email over the weekend. Further updates will be provided as needed.

As you may be aware, the World Health Organization has now declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic reflecting widespread increasing transmission of the virus globally. Travel bans have also been extended to include Italy, in addition to the existing bans to the Republic of Korea, Iran and mainland China.

I have received several phone calls over the past weeks from parents asking about actions they need to take in the event someone in their family contracts COVID-19. The college must be notified if a student or staff member is:

· a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19

· a person who has had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

‘Close contact’ is defined by DHHS as someone who has had at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with a confirmed case, or shared a closed space with someone for more than two hours with a confirmed case.

Unless you or a family member is in one of the two above categories, there is no need to take further action.

You can get further advice and assistance, including FAQs, from the DET’s coronavirus web page

You will be aware of some schools closing for a week in response to confirmed COVID-19 cases. These actions are taken on the recommendation of DHHS to allow time for contact tracing and with the health and safety of staff and students in the school community front of mind.

I am sure all parents are keen to hear about whether or not Echuca College will close due to the spread of COVID-19. Given that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst staff members or students, the college will remain open at this stage. Based on advice from DHHS, if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among a student or staff member, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer will recommend an affected school’s closure for 24 hours. We will notify all members of the college community through every mechanism possible should this be the case.

Should the college close, we will do everything in our power to maintain learning continuity for all students. The key mechanism through which we will do this is Xuno but there are a range of other options for those with limited access to computers or the internet. DET is also working closely with the Victorian Curriculum And Assessment Authority (VCAA) to minimise disruption to Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) teaching and learning programs and, as far as possible, ensure no student is disadvantaged. Further advice about this will be communicated as it is made available.

One of the strongest defences against COVID-19 continues to be strong personal hygiene. Please continue to remind your child/children of the importance of washing their hands regularly throughout the day. Hand sanitiser is also available at various locations around the college.

I will continue to send out updates as new information comes to hand. Should you have any questions, I encourage you to contact the college during school hours.