‘We’re all quite excited’: relief as kids head back to school

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Vermont South mother of three Suraiyah Akbar summed up the relief felt by many families after the state government announced its road map out of lockdown on Sunday.

Ms Akbar said it was ″⁣fantastic″⁣ that from October 6, her daughters Saima, 17, Alisha, 16, and Safiya, 12, will start returning to lessons at school.

Suraiyah Akbar, husband Kamrul Ahsan and daughters Alisha and Saima. Credit:Wayne Taylor

“The’ve been at home for so long. They’ve missed so many events, one after the other, and we just hope there’s no more disappointment, going forward.

“I guess we’re all quite excited. It’s good news.”

In metropolitan Melbourne, from October 6, VCE students like Saima will resume all classes at school, while from October 18, prep level kids will return three days a week, with grade ones and twos going two days a week.

From October 26, provided that at least 70 per cent of Victorians over 16 have received both doses of vaccine, years 7 and 11 will return five days a week, while the other year levels will return for two days a week.

It’s back to school for Jennifer Ou, centre, and brother Justin, 8, pictured with parents Irene and Ken.Credit:Darrian Traynor

From November 5, provided the state’s double dose vaccine rate has reached 80 per cent, at-school classes will resume for all Victorian students.

Ms Akbar said her VCE student daughter Saima, in particular, “has missed so many milestones, one after the other, events like the school formal and so many memories you build with your friends in that final year.

“It will be good if she can get back at least for that last final term. I think it’s a handful of days, but anything is better than staying longer in the house.”

VCE student, Jennifer Ou, 17, of Heidelberg, said it was a relief to soon be going back to class full-time.

It had been tough, “going in and out of lockdown” and readjusting her schedule.

She has missed being with friends and teachers face to face, playing tennis and being part of the school musical production.

It was hard being distant from others. “You don’t want that from your last two years of schooling.”

Jennifer is proud that her brother Justin, 8, who lives with autism and attends a local primary school, had adjusted well to disruptions to his routine.

Their father Ken Ou said the road map was reasonable: ”We’ve got a lot of positive thinking now we are slowly moving back to the normal.

“Of course we’d want the kids to get back to school much quicker, but we’re still quite happy to get the news from the Premier, and to now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said he would announce in coming weeks which groups will face mandatory vaccination, and said “you can safely assume” teachers and childcare workers would be considered.

Australian Education Union Victorian president Meredith Peace said staff in schools, preschools and other early childhood settings and TAFEs have “overwhelmingly” indicated their desire to get vaccinated.

“It remains the union’s position to follow the health advice regarding vaccination requirements and a plan to return to on-site learning,” Ms Peace said.

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