Schools to shut early

The Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS RUS­SELL

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.

Pic­ture: TRI­CIA WATKIN­SON

NEW SEAT OF LEARN­ING: Plymp­ton In­ter­na­tional Col­lege stu­dents Anu, 13, and Hay­ley, 12, en­joy do­ing their online lessons out­side yes­ter­day.

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