Warm welcome: BHS principal, Gary Palmer is keen for his 1500 students to bring life and excitement back to the school’s historic halls. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

‘Well placed’ for teaching transition

May 21, 2020 BY

AS the first group of primary and secondary students head back on-campus next week, the leadership and staff of local schools are preparing to keep learners engaged, while safer than ever.

Black Hill Primary School principal, Donna Bishop said her team are looking forward to welcoming their students back as they all closely follow coronavirus restrictions.

“Thorough” information from the Department of Education and Training, with input from the Victorian chief health officer, is guiding Black Hill to manage the safety of their school community.

“We will be providing our community with advice on staggered drop off and pickup of their children to avoid congestion,” she said.

“We will be organising this based on families to allow siblings to be dropped off and collected together. We will also be organising staggered breaks during the day.

“We feel well placed to manage the transition of all children back to school. Our parents and guardians have been extremely supportive during this period of remote learning, and we are confident they will continue to do this by following our directions regarding access to the school grounds, and communication protocols with teachers and the school administration.”

Primary children across the city will begin to head through their school’s gates from Tuesday. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Over the other side of town, Ballarat High School principal, Gary Palmer said his students are “keen” to come back.

Initially reintroducing year 11 and 12s, and some year 10s studying a VCE course to school this coming week, all other pupils will be back on 9 June.

“We’re confident our year 12 classes are tracking well, and our teachers are positive. They’re a good bunch of students and we’re expecting they’ll do well this year,” he said.

“Overall, during remote learning, the kids have missed socialisation the most. They miss their friends. Staff have missed the ability to understand if the kids were understanding their teaching.”

BHS has a “significant,” additional cleaning program in place across the large Lake Gardens campus, where 1500 students are enrolled.

“We’re lucky that we can spread kids out at recess and lunch times. Challenges may come with poor weather days, but we’ll have cleaners on-site full time and the place will be really clean if we have to be inside,” Mr Palmer said.

“The critical thing we’ve needed to do, and will continue to do, is communicate what’s going on with our students, parents and teachers.”

Black Hill and BHS’s parent-guardian communities have been “extremely” supportive throughout the remote learning period. Photo: FILE

Some staff at-risk due to their age or pre-existing health conditions will be off site, and large staff meetings, assemblies, after school sport programs, camps and excursions won’t run.

To contrast, Cape Clear Primary School principal, Lachlan Day will have 30 students back at the small, rural Golden Plains site. His focus throughout the return will be wellbeing.

“There are many things that have contributed to the anxiety levels of students, staff and families throughout this time,” he said.

“Our initial phase is almost going to look like the beginning of the school year, reconnecting with all members of the community, getting the children back on site and learning again.”


Students of Victoria’s schools will recommence their on-campus education in separate groups between Tuesday, 26 May and Tuesday, 9 June, following remote learning due to COVID-19 restrictions.

There are important details parents and guardians should be mindful of to ensure those in their care return to classroom learning at the appropriate time, especially if their children are in varying year levels of study.

From Tuesday, 26 May…

Grade prep, grade one and grade two pupils return to on-site learning. Year 11 and year 12 VCE and VCAL students return to on-site learning, and when appropriate, year 10s enrolled in VCE courses including VCE VET. All specialist school pupils return to on-site learning.

Teaching staff will ensure work being completed on campus is accessible to the year 10s in VCE or VCE VET studies who cannot attend class face-to-face at that time.

Monday, 25 May is a pupil-free day.

From Tuesday, 9 June…

Remaining year levels, grade three to year 10, return to on-site learning.

Pupils in early years will be some of the first children to transition back to on-site school learning. Photo: FILE

In the period between Tuesday, 26 May to Tuesday, 9 June, the existing on-site schooling structure for pupils who are vulnerable, or do not have access to home supervision, will stay as it has been in recent weeks.

The ways in which parents and guardians have been corresponding with the school, and identifying days or half-days when their children need access to on-site learning, will not change for these two weeks.

When students all return, they should be attending as normal. If a pupil remains home after they are expected to be back on campus, their remote learning will lack support.

Schools will continue to be thoroughly cleaned, with frequent handwashing encouraged for all on-site. The State’s Chief Health Officer has said pupils are not required to socially distance themselves from one another, but school procedures will shift where appropriate, following up-to-date advice as it arises.

Students who feel sick or are ill should not be at school and medical advice should be sought. If, due to health or medical circumstances, a child or teenager is absent from school, contact its office to notify staff and make an individual, appropriate plan.

Drop off, pickup and parent-teacher meeting procedures will be different, and schools may have some staggered start and finish times. Campus access will be restricted to, most likely, just staff and learners.

Follow the advice of your own child’s school about getting them safely on and off-site.