Kyabram Free Press
School is back again – what a relief!
School hallways were once again awash with life this week, as children of all ages were given the all-clear to return to the classroom.
With repeated COVID lockdowns forcing students into a routine of remote learning, this latest easing of restrictions was a massive relief for children and parents alike, as some of normality returned to day-to-day life.
At one of the many local schools ecstatic to see its students return, Girgarre Primary School principal Peter Caldow said he could not be more thrilled to see his hallways bustling with children once again.
“It is very exciting (to have everyone back) because you can’t replicate what we do here in a family lounge room and it is a big ask on parents to try and recreate that school environment,” Mr Caldow said.
“We did water down what we usually do on site here but even still the uptake was relatively poor, so the children are really excited to come back — when the opportunity presented itself to come back to school we took it with both hands and are excited for the rest of the year and beyond.”
Coming into the school throughout the lockdown with a limited number of children on site, he said the scenes were eerie as the campus mirrored a ghost town.
“I often say to any prospective parent coming here that the children are the school and without the children it is just a building,” he said.
“Although we have had some families still sending their kids in, but it was still very hollow and at the end of the day a teacher wants to teach and through that COVID period that became very difficult.”
Looking to make the best of an unfortunate situation, Mr Caldow explained some of the ways the Girgarre Primary staff looked to maintain that connectedness throughout the school community.
“We used our platform ueducateus as a way to keep our classes going and we had regular Webex meetings to ensure that everybody stayed in contact with one another,” he said.
“It was difficult with some of the internet connectivity with the areas around here, technology is good when it works but very frustrating when it doesn’t, but we did what we could to make things easier for the students.”
Now returning to the classroom after an extended layoff, he said there had been a bit of a process in getting the students adapted back to life on site.
“It is very much like starting up after a Christmas break, it is trying to get them back into the routine, have expectations and maintain those expectations of high-quality work, and given they have had so much time off it is difficult,” he said.
“We are taking that all into consideration and their wellbeing is the number one priority and is something we have really focused on catering for since their return.”
As for the parents, he said the there was an incredible sense of relief in being able to finally have their children back in the classroom.
“They (the parents) are so happy, it is a huge winner to be able to have everyone back at school now and that is what we are here for,” he said.
“The parents are an integral part of the education of their children and they are very relieved they don’t have to be teaching them from home anymore.”
With high vaccination rates set to put an end to remote learning and lockdowns, Mr Caldow is excited to see what the future holds.
“We are looking ahead to hopefully joining up with other local schools for camps in the not too distant future, excursions have been opened up, we can have sporting coaches come back into the school, so that is great,” he said.
“We have got some work ahead of us to try and remediate for such a long loss of time but we are looking ahead to some much better times in the future.”