Education

Local schools welcome prospect of return to face-to-face learning

By Andrew Johnston

LOCAL schools would fully support a return of face-to-face learning.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said on Tuesday, August 25 he was "confident" schools would be back in the classroom for term four.

“I'm confident based on ... the continuing downward trend in community transmission and the positive cases in the community,” he told state parliament's pandemic response inquiry.

Echuca East principal Lyn Strachan said a return to in-class learning would not only be a benefit for students, but a positive sign for the community.

“As a school, we would be over the moon if all our students could return on site, as this would be an indication that COVID-19 is somewhat under control and a new normal is beginning,” she said.

“We have missed our students and families and any suggestion that they would be back excites the school.”

Though she conceded there was still a great deal up in the air.

“At this moment, we have no idea what will happen in week 10, let alone term four,” she said.

“Our staff will be having a planning day soon, where they prepare their term four curriculum.

“They will have an optimistic tone in their planning, with the expectation of onsite delivery, but will be able to change this to remote and flexible if required.

“This year has thrown so many challenges to the teaching staff and they have come up trumps every time, but their favourite style is with the students in the classroom working together.

“The staff miss each other and their students, and the students miss each other and their teachers too. Schools flourish when we are all together.”

Echuca College acting principal Simon Wood said distance learning wasn't quite the same.

“While many of our students have flourished in an online environment, it is difficult to replicate face-to-face teaching and learning and we know our students will be very excited to return to the classroom,” he said.

“As with any transition, there will be some challenges, but we have the support in place to assist all members of our college community with this change.

“Our students are very resilient and I am sure they will adapt very quickly once they are back on site.”

River City Christian College principal Peter Nelson said he believed students would be in favour of getting back into the classrooms.

“There will no doubt be a range of responses, but I expect that there will be a resounding chorus of it being great to be back amongst friends again,” he said.

“It’s the same for most people, both young and old — we miss that part of relationship which is more possible when we’re in the same space together.

“I’m anticipating that this next transition back into classroom-based learning will be a smooth one, as we know a little more this time around and have a few more things already in place.”

St Joseph's College principal Michael Delaney said the everyday activities were missing with students at home.

“All students enjoy the social aspect of school, being with their friends, playing games at recess and lunchtime and things of that nature,” he said.

“All students — and teachers — enjoy the immediacy of face-to-face teaching. Questions are answered more efficiently, demonstrations can be explained more clearly. A lot of spontaneity is missing in remote learning.”

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