Victorian public school students to be kept home for two days

Victorian public school students will be asked to stay home for two days to allow teachers to prepare to run classes remotely, in case the coronavirus pandemic escalates.

Schools were told late on Friday that the last day of term one (next Friday) and the first day of term two would be pupil-free days.

During those two days, teachers will finalise preparations to run classes remotely should schools shut down at the peak of the pandemic.

"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," Dr David Howes, Education Department deputy secretary said in a notice to public schools.

Education Minister James Merlino.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

"This will provide an important opportunity for schools to consolidate their preparations."

Dr Howes said schools were already prepared to teach remotely but "it won't always be perfect, and we will learn as we go".

Principals have also been asked to support vulnerable teachers and staff who need to work from home to minimise their exposure.

The notice, seen by The Age, repeated that schools would be open next week as anxiety about spreading the coronavirus within schools festered.

On Thursday, Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said schools needed to remain open this early in the outbreak.

"There is not widespread community transmission at this point, and levels of COVID-19 illness are likely to be very low," Dr Sutton said.

"Children who are at all unwell are advised to be at home, and schools and teachers should exclude any unwell children who present to school. Any children with undetected symptoms are likely to be minimally infectious.

"The evidence is reviewed daily and advice will continue to be tailored to the evidence."

Earlier on Friday, it was revealed NAPLAN tests had been canned for the year. The tests – taken annually by children in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will resume next year.

The news came as a senior boarder at Geelong Grammar at the Corio campus was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Five school parents have also tested positive, having attended a cocktail night for parents of year 9 students at the Timbertop campus.

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