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Education Minister says school COVID-19 risk is ‘very low’ despite school outbreaks

Victoria’s Education Minister says the risk of coronavirus spreading among students returning to face-to-face learning this week is “very low”, despite outbreaks linked to multiple Victorian schools.

Melbourne and Mitchell Shire students in Year 11 and 12 and specialist schools return to face-to-face learning this week, while other students in the lockdown zone will begin Term Three remotely next week.

Despite 144 cases linked to Al-Taqwa College in Melbourne’s west, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino says the risk of coronavirus spreading at schools is “very low in terms of child-to-child transmission.”

“But schools are not immune,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Mr Merlino said additional measures are being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among students attending on-campus learning.

“We will be temperature checking every student in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, and in regional schools if you’ve got children moving out of Melbourne or Mitchell into schools in other parts of regional Victoria, those children will be checked as well, ” Mr Merlino told Neil Mitchell.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has not recommended students or teachers wear masks at school, but Mr Merlino said they may do so if they feel it is necessary.

“What we are recommending is that children and staff that are travelling to and from school, put a mask on, but in terms of in the classroom there is not a requirement to wear a mask,” he said.

The Education Minister said the most important thing students can do to stop school outbreaks is stay home if they show any signs of illness.

“If you are, in any way, feeling unwell, don’t go to school,” he said.

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