News blog, January 31: Back to school; Riverlinks calls scalpers; food fest a delicious success

Beautiful tunes: The Shepparton Malayalee Association performing at the St Georges Road Food Festival on Saturday. Photo by Megan Fisher

Return to the news blog throughout the day to catch up on the latest in the Goulburn Valley.

Hello and welcome,

Here’s Rosa Ritchie, on board this sunny Monday to keep an eye on what’s going on in town.

It’s another wet day with a possible downpour expected and a high of 33. As has been the theme this summer, there is a chance of thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon.

UPDATE 11.30am: Education Minister speaking on first day back

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino spoke at a press conference this morning to mark the first day of the 2022 school year.

Greater Shepparton Secondary College is one of 14 new public schools opening today.

“The first day of school is a big day – and even more so after the past two years,” Mr Merlino said.

“I wish all the students and staff heading to the school this year all the best for an exciting and much less disrupted school year.”

“We’ve done the work to make sure schools are as safe as possible – so we can protect our school communities and ensure that 2022 is a much less disrupted year for learning.”

The 51,000 air-purifying devices arrived at low-cost public and non-government schools in time for the start of the school year, helping to remove potentially infectious particles from high-risk areas of schools.

Meanwhile, more than 300 shade sails are under construction, helping more classes to hold outdoor classes.

A pool of inactive or retired teachers and school staff, and final-year education students, saw more than 346 teachers and 28 principals ready to be employed for short-term stays in schools, according to the needs.

This talent pool has been established to minimize disruption to students in the event of staff absences related to COVID-19.

UPDATE, 10:15 a.m.: Victorian COVID-19 numbers

Today, 873 people are admitted to Victorian hospitals with COVID-19, including 102 in intensive care and 33 on ventilators.

Sadly, eight more people have died from the virus, contributing to a total of 3,751 lives lost to COVID-19 in Australia.

The rate of third-dose vaccinations in Victoria continues to climb – now 38% of the adult population.

And 93% of Victorians aged 12 and over received two doses.

Today there are 10,053 new cases of COVID-19 in Victoria.

Most of them were detected by rapid antigen tests: 6,485 from the RAT result and 3,568 from the PCR tests.

There are more than 76,000 active cases in Victoria.

We will review the latest figures from Greater Shepparton once they are released after noon.

UPDATE, 10 a.m.: Body found, police confirm

In breaking news this morning, a Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed a body was found following a search for a missing man in the bush near Shepparton yesterday.

UPDATE, 9:30 a.m.: Morning headlines

Did you transport a youngster to their first day back at school this morning?

In this new school year, the police are asking motorists to know the school zones in their area.

Pupils begin to return to school from today, and Shepparton Police Senior Sergeant David Gillespie said drivers should remember the 40mph speed limit was return between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

More details here.

The food festival on St George’s Rd was a big hit on Saturday, attracting large crowds eager to sample the mouth-watering cuisine on offer.

I went with a small group and we got pretty tactical – each joining a different queue to save time and maximize the number of dishes sampled.

Unsurprisingly, everything was delicious.

Speaking of events, Riverlinks is warning music and entertainment enthusiasts in the Goulburn Valley to purchase tickets through authorized channels to avoid scalping.

“It’s heartbreaking to see customers being ripped off through resale ticket marketplaces,” said Riverlinks Venues director Ken Cameron.

Get the bottom in this article.

Independent candidate for the federal seat of Nicholls Rob Priestly has stepped aside from his duties as councilor for Greater Shepparton.

Mr Priestly confirmed he had formally informed the council of his decision – read the full story to find out what events may have triggered the move.