Covid-19 Victoria: schools return to distance learning
Students in one state have been forced to return to distance learning as Covid-19’s double whammy and the flu collide.
Several schools in Victoria have been forced to return to distance learning due to Covid-induced staff shortages.
The feared reversal comes as tens of thousands of Covid cases are registered every day across the country just before the flu season arrives.
Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino confirmed that a private school in the Shepparton region was among the first to temporarily return to distance learning.
“There is a one-year level in a school where students are learning from home for a short period of time as that school faces some pressure on staff,” he said.
“We have open schools, which continue to remain open throughout semester 1 and 2. Yes, there are staffing problems, of course there are.
“We are committed to opening schools and keeping them open and that is exactly what we have offered as it is of the greatest benefit to our children.”
Another school, Francis Xavier College in Berwick in southeastern Melbourne, was also forced to implement distance learning from Friday until at least Tuesday.
Principal Vincent Feeney informed parents of the measure in a letter, blaming both Covid and “seasonal staff sickness” for the relocation.
“Unfortunately the Berwick campus will enter a short distance learning period due to the impact of the disease and the absence of staff,” he wrote.
“The College still believes it is best for students to learn on-site and will continue to work for a timely return.”
Health authorities are urging parents to book children for flu shots as Queensland prepares for a triple wave of flu, Covid and colds.
In just one week, cases skyrocketed by 130% from 1848 to 4282, as infection rates among children pile up as the flu and Covid combine to create a double infection called “flurona.”
More than 180 Queensland residents have been co-infected with the virus since January, with 450 people hospitalized in April.
More than 30 people were admitted to intensive care.
Nearly half of Queenslanders between the ages of 10 and 29 have been recorded as carrying both viruses at the same time.
Bruce Willett, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Queensland, told NCA NewsWire that the flu could kill children.
“We can’t be complacent and think that just because the coronavirus hasn’t been hard on children, the double infection won’t lead to serious health problems,” he said.
“Flurona is the unknown, but what we do know is that the flu shot is not free for children over five and this can be a deterrent to getting a protective vaccine.”
The community’s low immunity is a result of the closure of international borders and the country’s low flu vaccination rate, with many young children having almost no immunity against the virus.
Earlier this month, only 3 percent of children under five had been vaccinated against the flu.
The data reveals that teens and 20-year-olds are the driving forces behind a growing number of people.
Unlike Covid vaccines, Chief Health Officer John Gerrard has not made flu vaccines mandatory for people who work or visit aged care facilities.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said she would follow the directions of health chiefs on the matter.
Ms. D’Ath said she was “worried” about the flu season ahead of schedule in the state and plans to write to the Commonwealth to ask for free flu shots.
“We’re likely going to have our worst flu season we’ve seen in nearly a decade and it’s getting there quickly,” he said.
Queensland Health’s acting chief operating officer David Rosengren said the state was experiencing “the dominant flu strain” commonly known as influenza A.
“Influenza A is a serious illness. It has serious repercussions on our young people and on our elderly and frail people, especially those with chronic diseases ”.
“I saw a 19-year-old man in the emergency room last Thursday night with influenza A who described he had never felt this bad in his entire life.
“If you don’t want to feel this bad all your life, then my challenge is to go out and get the flu shot. We know it works. “
Australians aged 65 and over, First Nations people, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions are eligible for a free vaccine.
Originally published as Why schools have returned to distance learning in Victoria