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Students across Australia returned to school as restrictions ease

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By Argyro Vourdoumpa.

On Monday morning, children in NSW and Queensland returned to school full-time after more than two months of remote learning. The ACT and Tasmania also began a part-time return to classrooms, with public schools in Victoria to follow suit tomorrow.

Australia reported only six new cases of coronavirus in the 24 hours up to 6.30am on Monday. Of the new cases, two were confirmed in Victoria, three in NSW and one in Queensland.

The Greek Herald contacted two of Australia’s Greek schools to see how students and teachers are feeling about returning to school and what additional safety measures they have in place.

Oakleigh Grammar, Victoria

“Today we brought back all of our senior school and prep students and we had only seven absences out of 250 kids. That is a strong endorsement from the parents who are sending their kids back to a safe learning environment,” said Oakleigh Grammar principal, Mark Robertson.

“We don’t allow any parents, grandparents or caregivers to come in our campus, our classrooms have been rearranged to maximise the space and ensure appropriate distancing, we are running a different timetable to our normal one and we have reduced the number of students at the playground. We have automatic santisers in the corridors and we have upgraded our cleaning to ensure that we have fully disinfected key areas like door handles and table tops,” Mr Robertson said.

“All of our staff have returned to school. There are lots of smiles on the teachers faces as they know we prioritise their safety, health and wellbeing and they’ve come back feeling very confident about resuming on campus. They are very excited to see their students.”

Asking him about the feedback he got from students, Mr Robertson replied that all were very excited to be back in their classrooms.

“Some of them said ‘we are happy to see our friends again’ or ‘remote learning was good but I was lonely because I was by myself’.”

Some of St Spyridon College students returned to school today. Supplied: St Spyridon College.

St Spyridon College, NSW

“Our College implemented a gradual return to school so that all students could have the opportunity to get into their stride, before the return of the whole K-12 school community this morning. We were so happy to see them all! There is something eerily mournful about an empty school,” said St. Spyridon Head of College,  Efrosini Stefanou-Haag.

Throughout the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19, we have seen our teachers quickly develop the “learning from home” program. It has been extraordinary to see how rapidly our teachers moved to the virtual classroom. Our parents have been amazing in their support of teachers. This enabled us to ensure that our students continued to learn at a high level – not just in terms of content, but in terms of critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving.

“As has been widely realised, a school is at the very heartland of its community. There is no substitute for the dynamic, enriching experience that a school creates with and for its students. School is the best place for young people. This is where they can learn, grow and thrive – in mind, body and soul. Coming back to school was even more special as the new Infants School building was ready for children on their return. The new spaces, including the Library, STEM room, Music rooms and classrooms, are welcoming, bright and provide a rich and exciting learning environment for our students.”

St Spyridon College students practicing physical distancing.

St Spyridon College

Year 7 – Reflections of students on returning to school

Evelina Karedis – “This isolation and distancing made us realise how important human interaction is…missing our family, friends and school family.  But most of all it made us realise how important the face to face interaction with our teachers is. Isolation made us appreciate how much work and effort they put in to teach and help us in class.” 

Poem by Spyridoula Karagiorgou:

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