BENDIGO schools have welcomed the earlier return date for the region's primary school students.
Kennington Primary School principal Travis Eddy said schools were notified earlier this week about the changes.
He said all students at his school would return to face-to-face classes from October 5.
"I think socially for all of the kids, it's going to be fantastic," Mr Eddy said. "Obviously there will still be social distancing and other operational matters that will be in place.
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"But it's certainly welcome. I think school is one of those things that add normality.
"Remote learning has been really challenging, but I can't speak highly enough of the community in their support, and the teachers and support staff in the work they have done."
Catholic Education Office Sandurst director Paul Desmond said the Catholic primary schools in the region would also follow the government's advice.
Mr Desmond said individual schools would decide on the exact start date and whether there would be a staggered start of year levels.
"We think it's welcome news because we believe schools are great places and the children can get to see one another, see their teachers, and recommence their learning in the school setting," Mr Desmond said.
Education Minister James Merlino confirmed secondary schools would return to face-to-face classes from October 12.
Years 11 and 12 students would be allowed back at school in that first week of term four for assessments and the General Achievement Test.
Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce said he backed the decision.
"The reason secondary schools are not coming back early is to ensure that there are no COVID school closures at the time of the GAT and I support that," he said.
"We're planning for face-to-face classes to resume on October 12."
REGIONAL Victorian primary school students will be allowed to return to face-to-face classes from the first week of term four.
Education Minister James Merlino on Thursday confirmed students in prep to year 6 would return to on-site classes from October 5.
Secondary school students would only be allowed to return to classes from October 12 or the second week of term four.
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Mr Merlino said years 11 and 12 students would be allowed back at school in that first week of term four for assessments and the General Achievement Test.
The government previously said all students in regional Victoria would return to face-to-face classes on October 12.
Mr Merlino also confirmed that sessional kindergarten would remain free for most families in term four.
The state government would provide $26.7 million in extra funding to support early childhood services.
Community-based, local government, and school providers offering sessional programs would be eligible for about $500 per enrolment to provide children with access to a free 15-hour program each week.
About 5300 vulnerable children would also be given up to five extra hours per week of kinder to help them catch up on missed or disrupted learning before starting school.
The announcements came as Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the state recorded 28 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths on Thursday.
There were 97 Victorians in hospital with the virus, with 12 of those people in intensive care. Six people were on ventilators.
There were only 33 active coronavirus cases in regional Victoria, bringing the regional rolling 14-day case average to 2.9.
While regional Victoria moved to step three of the roadmap to reopening on Thursday, Mr Andrews said people still needed to be cautious.
"The rules have changed but there are still rules," he said. "It is important that regional Victorians stay vigilant."
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