With lockdown dragging on for at least another two weeks, the focus is shifting to what a protracted period of remote learning might look like, especially for staff and students who were already struggling when schools returned for Term 3 last week.
According to The Smith Family, 81% of Australians are concerned about students struggling to do schoolwork without laptops and reliable internet.
Meanwhile, there are renewed concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of students, many of whom recall how arduous the lockdowns of 2020 were.
NSW Primary Principals Association president, Robyn Evans, said that as schools hunker down for the long haul, the priority is keeping communities, students, and staff safe.
“Heroes in the workforce – our school staff are investing time and energy at all levels – restricting visitors on site and ensuring learning is offered face to face, online or through learning packs,” Evans told The Educator.
“Of significance, is the focus on the wellbeing of both our students and staff.”
Evans said staff offer reassurance and support for students to address learning needs and check in on the wellbeing of our students and their families.
“Staff thrive on timely and supportive communication like we had today. Strong communication, support, relationships and staying connected is key to ensuring we all come through ongoing pandemic with positivity and hope,” she said.
“We are all doing our part to ensure we are all back in our schools thriving as soon as possible.”
Lockdown having ‘profound’ affect on kids with disability
Matthew Johnson President of the Australian Special Education Principals Association and President of SEPLA NSW said the impact on special needs students who have to attempt to learn remotely is “profound.”
“Whilst all our schools are now well versed and prepared for a mix of face-to face and online learning, many students can’t access remote learning due to their disability,” Johnson told The Educator.
“This has a huge impact on our special school and settings parent and student community, many students have to learn face to face and hand over hand and this is not always possible.”
Johnson said unlike other schools, most of the state’s special schools still have a about 15-20% of students still attending face to face because of this.
“To assist teachers and pafrents ASEPA has partnered with UK-based NASEN (National Association for Special Educational Needs) to work in partnership to crowd-source free resources that may be useful in supporting children with complex and/or additional learning needs.”
Premier considering tougher restrictions
In NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's 11am press conference this morning, it was revealed that 97 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded overnight, with up to 51 of those cases infectious whilst in the community.
The Premier flagged the possibility of tougher restrictions to curb the rising number of cases, but said this will be dependant on the number of people "doing the right thing."
The government is urging appealing to citizens to reduce their mobility as much as possible, however when asked if non-essential retail outlets, which may be helping to spread the virus, should close, the Premier said such action "may not have an impact."