Morwell smoke fears prompt student relocation to Moe schools

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Students from two Morwell primary schools and one preschool have been relocated to Moe for the foreseeable future as health concerns from the smoke situation continue to worry parents.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development yesterday announced all students from Commercial Road Primary School would attend classes at public schools in Moe from today based on advice from the Department of Health.

Catholic primary school Sacred Heart, also on Commercial Road, will relocate students to the Newborough campus of secondary college Lavalla.

DEECD senior adviser regional performance and planning Mark Anderson said prep to grade two students from Commercial Road would be relocated to Newborough Primary School, middle grades would go to Elizabeth Street Primary School and senior pupils would attend class at Newborough East Primary School.

The students will arrive at Commercial Road as usual and be transported to Moe by bus, returning by 3pm.

“We’ve structured it so the kids go with their entire class and their same teacher, they’re just in a different classroom,” Mr Anderson said.

He said at this stage, the department was only relocating Commercial Road students, but it was providing regular updates to principals on the northern side of Morwell on the smoke situation.

When asked why the relocation had not occurred sooner, Mr Anderson said the department had been looking at the situation from “the moment the fires occurred” and was acting on advice from the Country Fire Authority and Environment Protection Authority.

“We’ve been working on a contingency for a little while and now that advice is much clearer, we’re actioning it,” Mr Anderson said.

He said Morwell schools were ensuring children with respiratory problems, including asthma, were kept up-to-date.

Sacred Heart’s 133 students will now operate from Lavalla’s presentation campus.

Meanwhile, Latrobe City Council has decided to relocate its Maryvale Crescent preschool to Moe PLACE at Ted Summerton Reserve.

The preschool has been closed all this week as a precautionary measure.

Session times will remain the same, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 2pm, and the children will still have the same early education teacher.

“We understand transport may be a concern for some families so we will be providing a free bus to and from Moe PLACE with members of the preschool team travelling with the children,” mayor Sharon Gibson said.

She said as the fire may burn for some time council could not anticipate how long the arrangement would continue, but it would keep parents informed.

Goodstart Early Learning Centre has closed its Commercial Road premises indefinitely due to the poor air quality.

A spokesperson said families were being offered places at alternative centres where possible.