Comment: Unprecedented times for education sector

Lowanna College principal Adam Hogan

It’s been an unprecedented week for schools, as it has for the broader community and businesses.

In the early stages of the outbreak, we focused on education and hygiene – helping students understand the nature of the virus, how it spreads, and the measures they need to take to reduce their risk.

Like many schools, we increased our cleaning provision significantly, including cleaning throughout the school during the day, and rearranged classrooms to increase distance between students, where possible.

Our primary focus has been on the health and wellbeing of all staff and students, followed by a focus on the continuity of education and learning.

Our students have been fantastic in remaining calm, focused and following advice, enabling us to feel confident in our approach to continued schooling over the last couple of weeks.

Staff have played a key pastoral role in supporting our students as worry and uncertainty has slowly increased, taking time to listen to students, answer their questions and ensure they have accurate information. Our staff have been remarkable in supporting our students.

I would particularly like to thank our staff, who have worked diligently over the past fortnight through increasing uncertainty, remaining calm, focused and supportive our students and community.

We’ve worked hard to keep our community updated on a near-daily basis over the last fortnight, and cannot thank our parent community enough for their support and understanding as circumstances have changed across all schools.

There is a level of worry and concern across our communities at the moment, but equally there is a huge amount of good will, care and support.

The possibility of online learning has become a key consideration for all schools over the past few weeks. What will ensue next term remains dependent on state government decisions, based on the best available health advice, in the coming weeks.

As a school, we are well-prepared and equipped to continue providing education to our students, in whatever environment that is required.

The translation from classroom learning to online or distance learning requires careful consideration.

For example, aside from providing learning tasks, teachers will consider how students can engage in new material – that is, what students will read, watch or listen to, to support new learning.

Teachers are passionate as ever about supporting our students, creating videos, narrated PowerPoint presentations and podcasts, as well as linking in high quality online and physical resources that we have already.

Communication for learning support, assessment and feedback also remain critical parts of quality teaching, and like many schools, we will use our established IT systems to support students with these elements in real time, if required.

We remain confident we will come through this unprecedented period together.

Our state and national governments have worked together tirelessly like never before, and the containment measures that are now being put in place are the next level of work to ensure we minimise the spread of the virus.