Vic virus-exposed year 12s can sit exams

Victorian students who've been exposed to COVID-19 will have a seperate room to sit year 12 exams.
Victorian students who've been exposed to COVID-19 will have a seperate room to sit year 12 exams.

Victorian year 12 students exposed to COVID-19 will still be able to sit their final exams under changes to isolation rules.

From next week, students deemed primary close contacts will be able to sit their exams in dedicated rooms with separate entrances, either by themselves or safely distanced from other students.

They will be supervised by staff who will wear face shields and personal protective equipment usually worn in healthcare settings, while the rooms will be safely ventilated and cleaned between each use.

Outside of attending their exams, the students will have to isolate for 14 days at home if they are unvaccinated, and seven days if they are fully vaccinated.

Regardless of vaccination status, they will need to get tested every 48 hours for the first week of their exposure, then again on day 13.

"This is the most significant time in their schooling life," Education Minister James Merlino told reporters on Thursday.

"We need to make sure and provide comfort to the students, their teachers, their parents and carers, that we've got their back and they can sit every single exam, even if they're a primary close contact."

Students who test positive for coronavirus will not be able to attend exams and instead get a derived examination score for any missed assessments, with disadvantage taken into account.

Mr Merlino said 80 per cent of 17 to 18-year-olds have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 75 per cent are on track to be double-dosed by the time written exams begin on October 27.

All VCE exam rooms will keep a registration of students and a seating plan to assist with contact tracing.

Almost 50 schools across Victoria have had COVID-19 exposure in the last 10 days.

With increasing exposures as the state reopens, rules around closures will change.

Schools will generally be closed for 24 hours to clean affected areas before students can return, other than those deemed primary close contacts.

The state government is also expanding its trial of rapid home testing announced a few weeks ago, to expand into school settings.

Meanwhile, a suite of mental health resources, including therapy dogs, will be rolled out at state schools as part of a $200 million fund that was announced in the May budget.

"It's scientifically proven that dogs increase our happy hormone, oxytocin, and they decrease our stress hormone, which makes it much easier for students to access their learning," Chelsie Spence from Canine Comprehension said.

Ms Spence said and her King Charles Cavalier Joosh are a part of the program.

Australian Associated Press