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Al-Taqwa College coronavirus outbreak: Victorian schools remain safe –

Al-Taqwa College coronavirus outbreak: Victorian schools remain safe



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Parents have been reassured that schools remain safe despite one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks now being linked to Melbournes largest Islamic college.More than 117 COVID cases have now been linked to an outbreak at the Al-Taqwa college that health officials say is also linked to another outbreak in public housing high rise towers where some of the students live.
The outbreak now includes over 58 students who attended the school or had links with the school, 21 staff, and 14 household or visitor contacts.
But it’s not known whether the virus started spreading among family groups or at the school, which has been on holidays in recent weeks.
Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said today that his advice on the safety of schools had not changed despite the outbreak at the Al-Taqwa College.
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“There is an outbreak in one particular college in Melbourne. And some smaller ones related to other schools,’’ he said.
“I don’t have the details of those linkages but I know our Victorian colleagues are looking closely at the various clusters and as they look more closely, they are finding linkages. So it is possible they are closely linked.
“On the basis of evidence and we look at this continually, about the risk to children. The risk to children of this virus is much less than an adults and that is very clear around the world in terms of the severity of the illness. In terms of this particular cluster in this college
in Melbourne, this seems particularly linked to family and not the school.”
On Thursday, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton revealed there was “an epidemiological link” between the school cluster and the outbreak at the public housing towers.
But it wasn’t clear where the virus started spreading.
“It might have gone in one direction, it might have gone in the other direction, indeed there might be multiple importations into these towers,’’ he said.
“Sometimes the first person who develops symptoms is not the first person who’s been exposed. So it is tricky in that regard.”
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As Victoria issued official advice to wear masks when leaving the home, Professor Sutton said today mask use “isn’t feasible in schools” as officials weigh a return to home learning.
“I don’t think masks are feasible in schools. Kids can’t necessarily wear the masks in the same way that adults can. Teachers can’t really teach with masks,’’ Prof Sutton said.
“I think everyone in schools should feel free to bring a mask if they feel comfortable with it. Teachers in the common room, or individual students if they so choose.
“Temperature screening will be part of checking for all students. That temperature screening is not just checking for temperatures, it is a prompt for all students that they shouldn’t be turning up if they have symptoms.”
Public school students in Victoria have been on holidays for the last fortnight.
Premier Dan Andrews has announced that Year 11 and 12 students will return to classes next week but younger children will have an extra week of school holidays.
A return to home learning remains a live option.

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