Govt backs Vic schools return after cases

·2-min read

Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the decision to push ahead with an annual Victorian assessment after four COVID-positive students sat the test.

The VCE students, from Melbourne's coronavirus-hit north and west, tested positive after completing Tuesday's rescheduled General Achievement Test.

The students are from Glenroy Secondary College, William Ruthven Secondary College, Roxburgh College and Point Cook Secondary College.

The schools will be closed for deep cleaning, and contact tracing is underway, as authorities attempt to balance public health risks with isolating the fewest students possible.

A state government spokeswoman said 85,000 students sat the exam, which does not count towards their end-of-year results, and prior targeted hotspot testing uncovered more than 30 cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the tests were returned in good time and he was comfortable the GAT went ahead in the climate of the state's worsening coronavirus outbreak.

"We have to open the place up. We have to normalise this and there are steady and logical and safe steps to do that. The GAT was one of them," he told reporters at state parliament.

Health Minister Martin Foley said exposed students would be given further opportunities if they missed upcoming exams while in isolation.

He was unsurprised four cases had emerged among such a large cohort of students, and said the government would not change course on its staggered plan for pupils to return to face-to-face learning.

"It is a regret and I am sure it is a bigger blow for those four young people and their families," Mr Foley said.

"But in regards to the amount of community transmission that is apparent at the moment, overlaid with the increasingly strong levels of vaccinations, we think this is a sensible path through, mitigate those risks while delivering the VCE to those year 12 and year 11 students."

The scare came as tens of thousands of VCE students returned to Melbourne classrooms on Wednesday.

McKinnon Secondary College year 12 student Lucca Beaves said he was excited but well aware of the likelihood his school might have to deal with a close contact or a positive case.

"I guess it's a bit scary," he told AAP.

Like so many senior students, he and his twin brother Padua have spent much of their VCE studying at home.

The 18-year-old twins will be fully vaccinated next week after deciding to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in August, and are among 73.76 per cent of Victorians aged 16 to 19 who have had their first dose.

Wednesday's return to classrooms for Unit 3/4 VCE students in Melbourne comes after year 12 and prep to grade two pupils in regional Victoria went back to school on Monday as part of a separate, staggered restart plan.

The opposition, meanwhile, has released its own plan to get every Victorian student back in classrooms full-time earlier than the government's roadmap.

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