Students across ACT Catholic schools are back in the classroom, after COVID-19 restrictions encouraged remote learning for parts of Terms 1 and 2.
Schools were given the option of either an immediate or staggered return from 18 May, with all students expected to be back in the classroom by 2 June.
Principal of St Michael’s Primary School in Kaleen, Patrick Ellis said the school decided on a staggered return, in order to check-in with each child.
“We referred to it as a blended model and brought Kindergarten back full-time while other grades did two days face-to-face and three days remotely over the last fortnight,” he said.
“The focus for that transition was really on wellbeing because we thought it was important to reconnect with every child during those two weeks and we wanted to make sure we had enough staff to do that.”
Narrabundah Catholic school, St Benedict’s Primary, decided against a staggered return opting for all students to start from 18 May.
Principal Rachel Smith said the school had been opened optionally prior to 18 May, and they had been seeing an increase in numbers for face-to-face learning.
“We found that once we returned, more and more students were coming to school and we reached out to students and families we thought might be struggling with remote learning and found most wanted to come back immediately,” she said.
“The kids skipped through the gates on 18 May and the parents were excited to have them back as well. Out of our 180 students, we only had seven that didn’t come back straight away.”
As restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, whole-school assemblies and excursions are off the table, while both schools reported a change in their drop-off and pick-up models.
“Generally, we would have parents come into the courtyard with students and now we have a kiss and drop-off from the car in the mornings,” Mr Ellis said.
“In the afternoons we walk students out to various areas and pick-up points to meet their parents.”
Mr Ellis said some changes had also been made to marking criteria for the rest of Semester 1.
“We have a revised reporting format across Catholic Education for the remainder of this semester, and we are focussing on maths, English and religious education,” he said.
“Early next term we will be having some parent teacher interviews to focus on learning goals for our students for Semester 2.”
Ms Smith said she was happy to see the students return after what had been a tough time on the school community.
“We are very excited to return and so are our teachers,” she said.
“If I am looking for a positive from the situation, our community has strengthened because of how amazing and supportive everyone has been to one another.”