Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (14:22): Last week thousands of schoolchildren in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region returned to school after a well-deserved break. It has been a difficult period for all as we continue our fight against the coronavirus pandemic. I am excited to see these children go back to school and be reunited with their friends and teachers after having to alternate between remote learning and face-to-face learning for the past two schooling years. I am also excited for the numerous prep kids who begin their educational journey this year and the children who begin the next phase in their learning with high school.
I would like to wish all students the very best of luck for a prosperous, stable and successful year of learning, filled with many opportunities and memories to be made. I would like to wish all staff and teachers all the best for the new year and thank them for their diligence and support of our young Victorians as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic.
To ensure students and staff can return safely to schools, free rapid antigen tests have been made available through schools for use by all students and staff from the start of term 1, 2022. These tests will ensure positive cases are identified as quickly as possible.
Qualitative and accessible education has always been something I have been passionate about, and I made it one of my primary focuses in my inaugural speech in this Parliament in 2018 and throughout my tenure as a member of Parliament in the last few years. I look forward to the opportunity this year to visit schools in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region and engage with the educational stakeholders in the community.