Country schools, sport can safely reopen – sooner

Liberal Party Victoria

Students in regional Victoria should not have to endure more weeks locked out of the classroom.

According to the Andrews Government’s roadmap, only Prep to Grade 2 and final years students will be back in the classroom this week to start to get their studies back on track.

Despite high vaccination rates across regional Victoria, it’ll still be more than three weeks before all country kids are back in school full-time.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minster for Regional Victoria Peter Walsh said regional students had already sacrificed too much after the virus spread out of control in metro Melbourne.

“Regional Victorians are leading the way doing our bit to protect ourselves and our community with more than 60 per cent of people over 16 now fully vaccinated, while 88 per cent have had their first dose,” Mr Walsh said.

“But under Labor’s roadmap our regional kids will still wait until October 26 to get back to full time, on-site study.

“Why should kids living in council areas like Buloke, Towong and Hindmarsh – which have never recorded a single case of COVID, ever – continue to have their education disrupted.

“There’s no reason to delay – our schools and childcare in regional areas that aren’t in lockdown should be able to fully reopen, so kids and families can get on the road to normal.”

Under the Andrews Government’s Melbourne-centric roadmap, many community sports clubs can only return at minimum levels at the 70 per cent threshold.

Mr Walsh said regional communities should get these freedoms sooner. At 70 per cent, all community sport should return for fully vaccinated Victorians, with an adequate number of players for competition.

“Community sport is crucial to the mental wellbeing of Victorians, but our local sports clubs are in ruins after cancelling games and – in many cases – entire seasons in the past 18 months,” Mr Walsh said.

“Metro double dose vaccination is at 52 per cent, which means country people will be stuck waiting for the city to catch up.

“Regional Victoria must be able move into the next phase of our recovery when we reach the 80 per cent milestone, without delay.

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