Students celebrate return to class after months in lockdown
By Brendan Rees
It’s been some weeks but students are finally back in class at Docklands Primary School.
Students from Prep to Grade 6 have been all smiles since resuming face-to-face learning and reuniting with their friends in a staged return from October 18 for the first time since June due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The school’s literacy tutor Biljana Stavreski said the staggered return of students had been “really exciting” after being freed from online fatigue.
“We’ve had a good attendance rate from our community,” she said. “It’s been great to have the Preps back on site – they were really, really excited – just jumping up and down.”
Ms Stavreski, who has been recruited under a $250 million tutor learning initiative created by the state government to help students who may have fallen behind in their learning during the pandemic, said the school had been proud of all its students who showed resilience during remote learning and thanked parents for their support.
“It’s been fantastic; teachers have really worked really hard to engage students online,” she said.
“Kids have been really happy; they’ve been well supported.”
While a computer screen was no match for face-to-face learning, she said its more than 260 students had shown great enthusiasm during virtual classes and had benefitted from teachers running Zoom sessions with a regular timetable.
They also enjoyed a “Welcome back” video created by staff in the days before returning to onsite learning, which Ms Stavreski described as a “wonderful” idea.
“I think that really helped the students, especially the younger ones, to familiarise themselves with ‘oh that’s the school again … and that was my classroom’.
“I think that was really good just getting them comfortable again in coming back to school.”
“We know that setting routines and structures as well as supporting their wellbeing and addressing any anxieties and things like that really is a top priority.”
Ms Stavreski said students had overall “really settled” well onsite and had no issue adapting to COVID-safe settings including wearing masks.
It’s a brand-new building so we have state-of-the-art ventilation throughout so that’s not an issue for us. And we’re quite lucky in that we have been able to spread things around because of the way the school is designed so that works really well for us.
It’s been a tough journey for students who have endured the world’s longest COVID-19 lockdown but teachers did their best to make online learning fun and engaging.
In August, Preps celebrated 100 days of learning which was packed with virtual activities and a costume parade to mark the milestone.
Parent Samba Murthy Nagidi said his son, Abhi (pictured), 6, was excited to resume Prep classes and see his friends again in person.
“He said he really missed all the fun at school and play time at the basketball court and play zone,” Mr Nagidi said •
Ms Stavreski said it had been a “strange place” without children physically being on school grounds.
“You can’t be a primary school teacher and not love the sound of children, so it really is this absence that you feel when the kids aren’t onsite.”