Schools to shut early
STUDENTS will go on holiday four days early to give teachers a break to prepare for a completely different way of running schools.
When Term 2 resumes, some teachers will be working from home and delivering lessons via online platforms.
Plympton International College Year 8s Anu and Hayley glimpsed a virtual-classroom yesterday with teacher Andrew Charlton.
Announcing the changes, Education Minister John Gardner said schools would be kept open to “supervise” students on campus but classes would be delivered simultaneously in school and at home.
“It won’t be a traditional classroom environment,” he said. “Some of the teachers will be doing their instruction working from home, some will be on the school site.”
Easter holidays will begin at the end of next week for students, with the first four days from Monday, April 6, classified as pupil-free days.
Teachers will be required to work, familiarising themselves with resources for remote learning and setting up systems for the new way of delivering lessons.
Mr Charlton, Plympton’s STEM co-ordinator, was happy with his trial run, with students able to talk or type questions and answers.
“There was a bit of a lag time and it’s not as ideal as being in the class because you can miss some of the cues,” he said. “But the students were really engaged in the topic.”
Anu and Hayley both said the lesson was good but Anu preferred being at school because there were fewer distractions than home.
Most Catholic and independent schools will adopt the same pupil-free days.
Association of Independent Schools of SA chief executive Carolyn Grantskalns said nongovernment schools were not compelled to do so, leaving the decision up to each school.
She said several schools, especially those with boarders, had already moved to online delivery and would likely share knowledge.
“We work very closely across the three sectors (public, independent and Catholic); it’s one of the really good things about SA,” she said.
Catholic Education SA assistant director Bruno Vieceli said the sector was “preparing for a different way of being a school”. “Many schools have already been working on this for weeks, and the four pupilfree days are a wonderful resource for our teachers to continue that work,” he said.
Australian Education Union SA president Lara Golding welcomed the provision for teachers to be able to work from home. But she wanted consideration of a broader approach than only those who could show an age or healthrelated vulnerability.
“Education staff are concerned about their health and safety now,” she said. “The pupil-free period should start immediately.”
Opposition Education spokeswoman Susan Close said the Government was sending “confusing mixed messages” to parents.
Mr Gardner flagged the Education Department would help parents in the holidays, including the pupil-free period, by accepting students at school.
Details were still being resolved but the holidays would be very different, with no cinemas, sports or traditional leisure activity for young people.
“Parents do need to be thinking now about how they’re going to supervise their children in that home environment during the school holidays,” Mr Gardner said.
“Our schools and education system will have to be part of that solution.”
TAFE SA term one lessons end today.
NEW SEAT OF LEARNING: Plympton International College students Anu, 13, and Hayley, 12, enjoy doing their online lessons outside yesterday.