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Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews says his government has not received health advice suggesting schools should return to distance learning, and will remain open during the colder months.

The comments come after the Independent Education Union said Victorian schools should consider temporarily returning to distance learning and canceling camps due to severe staff shortages caused by the flu and COVID-19.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

There have been more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus a day in Victoria lately and a spate of flu cases, making it difficult for schools to replace sick staff. In NSW, cases have hovered around 8,000 in recent days.

The Victorian government argues that statewide distance education is disproportionate to the challenges schools are currently facing, especially after two years of distance education.

“The school was open on the first day of the first semester, it’s stayed open all year and we’re going to keep it open, and we’re going to keep it as normal as possible,” Andrews said. at a press conference this morning.

Victorian Education Secretary James Merlino acknowledged that schools faced challenges but said face-to-face learning remained the best option for Victorian children who missed it during the lockdown.

“We said at the beginning of the year, when we were determined to get students back… that schools will look a little bit different this year, and there will be challenges, and there have been,” Merlino said during same press conference.

“We have COVID, and we have a nasty flu season, so people are getting scammed. But we have principals and deputy principals who teach, we have a pool of retired teachers and principals who come back to school to teach…so it’s all hands on deck.

“It’s about making sure our kids stay in school, our schools stay open, and it’s best for our students that they get that peer-to-peer experience.”

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