Kyabram Free Press
Less than two per cent of Kyabram P-12 College’s 126 staff have been impacted by the authorised worker vaccination program implemented recently.
On the first day that the entire school population of 932 was on the college grounds in more than a term, acting school principal Kate Whitford said these staff had made their own decision in regards to their future with the college.
“Our school community has been kept safe through the implementation of the COVID-19 protocols. In fact, across the entire region there has only been one staff member who may have caught the virus while at school due to the safety measures schools have implemented,” she said.
Mrs Whitford said the impending release of the metropolitan region would certainly provide challenges, but the college was well positioned to handle any outbreaks.
“The new COVID conditions in schools will mean we are responsible for identifying the close contacts of the positive case and informing our community,” she said.
“In fact, only staff and students identified as close contacts of the positive case will need to isolate and potentially return to remote learning.“
Mrs Whitford said it was a significant change of conditions, meaning a positive case did not require a whole school closure unless close contacts could not be identified quickly.
“We will continue to work in small bubbles, with limited cross-over,” she said.
“That will mean that close contacts will be restricted to smaller groups and not affect the school community as a whole.
“There will continue to be limited contact between staff members, they too will be working in smaller groups.
Mrs Whitford, a teacher for 26 years – the past six as principal of the primary campus – said two years of lockdown was taking its toll on many students but staff had noticed the impact on the Prep and Year 1 cohort.
“We have seen a significant difference in their ability to settle and their learning stamina,” she said.
“They have come into the education system with limited preparation and transition due to lockdowns.
“It will be an ongoing concern and something we have identified we will need to support.”
Mrs Whitford said a significant factor in the difficult nature of early years program was the absence of volunteer support from parents and community members.
“We cannot have any volunteers in the classroom, which means there are less people available to help with our primary literacy programs, especially reading,” she said.
“On any given morning we could have between four and eight parents in the Prep to Grade 4 classrooms before school, listening to our children read.
“Some do it every day, others on the days they start work late and others wherever they can fit in an hour or so.
“It is something that these kids and their families have really missed.”
Mrs Whitford said the lack of parental involvement in the school community was a disappointing aspect of the COVID rules within which schools have been required to operate.
“We would normally have up to 30 or 40 parents at our primary school assemblies held every Monday,” she said.
“But we haven’t been able to have an assembly with visitors since early last year.
“In an effort to keep students from mixing we now have Webex assemblies for classes and year level across the college.
“Even our traditional Year 12 assembly, where parents join staff and students to celebrate their final day, could not occur for the second year running.”