SOME families at St Joseph's Primary School have been unable to access federal government financial support while they follow orders to self-isolate.
Catholic Education Office Sandhurst director Paul Desmond said the families understood they were eligible for the federal government's $1500 pandemic leave disaster payment, as they have already used their leave entitlements and were isolating on the advice of Bendigo Health.
Mr Desmond said several parents were being asked to show a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services proving why they were self-isolating.
Mr Desmond said those letters have not been distributed.
"These families are under enough pressure," Mr Desmond said. "When they need help, do not make it more difficult for them than it already is."
Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the families should qualify for the payments.
Ms Chesters said Centrelink was asking families for individualised letters from DHHS or Bendigo Health as proof of why they needed to isolated.
She said a letter from the Quarry Hill school about the COVID-19 outbreak should be enough.
"It shouldn't be this hard," Ms Chesters said. "If I'm confused as the Federal Member, I can't even imagine how confused they are.
"We understand this is a new government scheme, but it's disappointing our families have to be the ones to work through the bureaucratic red tape."
Ms Chesters said she had elevated the issue with Services Australia and would work to have the issue resolved.
THE St Joseph's Primary School students who tested positive to COVID-19 are asymptomatic and feeling well, Catholic Education Office Sandhurst director Paul Desmond says.
Mr Desmond said the students were able to engage in remote learning with their classmates.
Eight students at the Quarry Hill school have tested positive to coronavirus in the past week, as well as three teachers.
Bendigo Health began contact tracing at the school late on Monday afternoon, five days after the first confirmed coronavirus case at the school.
Mr Desmond said that delay was frustrating for the school and families.
"I am very concerned by the delay in contact tracing efforts," he said. "We placed our confidence in the authorities and the delay is unreasonable.
"Since Bendigo Health has taken control of the situation, contact tracing is moving very smoothly."
Mr Desmond said some COVID-19 communication had gone out to families at other Catholic schools in the region.
"I worry about the virus in every regard, particularly where children are involved," he said. "The links might be from school to school, sporting clubs, or family friends.
"I am aware of some communication that has gone out to other Catholic schools to assist parents to understand the situation."
ANOTHER six students at St Joseph's Primary School have tested positive to COVID-19.
Catholic Education Office Sandhurst on Thursday confirmed the Quarry Hill school cluster had grown to eight students and three teachers.
The first case was confirmed at the school on July 29, when a staff member tested positive to the virus. The school was closed for a deep cleaning.
Another two staff members tested positive to COVID-19 at the weekend.
The Quarry Hill school then confirmed two students had tested positive to coronavirus on Monday.
Families were told on Wednesday that they must get tested for coronavirus as the situation at the school had progressed to an "outbreak".
Principal Joan Coldwell alerted families of the Bendigo Health advice in a letter.
"The updated advice provided to the school is due to these increasing numbers of positive cases in our community, a recommendation is that all remaining students and staff at St Joseph's Primary School be tested for COVID-19," Ms Coldwell said in the letter.
Bendigo Health and the Department of Health and Human Services advised all families should then isolate until August 12, Ms Coldwell said.
Household contacts should also get tested if they develop any coronavirus symptoms.
"Due to this recent advice, students will not be able to collect any items from the school until after August 12," Ms Coldwell said.
Bendigo Health was assigned to contact tracing at the school late on Monday afternoon, five days after the first confirmed coronavirus case at the school.
Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner said the state government initially took the lead in contact tracing positive cases and close contacts.
"I am aware of the anxiety in our community and the frustration with the process but I have been working closely with the appropriate authorities and have been acting on the advice I have been given," Ms Coldwell said in another letter to families.
"I am very sorry that this has happened and I have appreciated your support."
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