Back to school in the middle of the year

Mother and son walk to school
Queensland students return to school. Pic: Dan Fidler

Students and schools are preparing for the mass return to regular classes on Monday May 25. But what we have learnt?

All Queensland students will return to regular learning from Monday 25 May 2020. The move is suggested to be safe following low community transmission rates and return to school reflects the broader lifting of restrictions and comes with some safety guidelines.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced last Friday that students in Years 2 to 10 would re-join their schoolmates.

“Our decision to adopt a sensible and deliberate approach with this phased return has proven to be the right one as we progressively move to relaxing the range of COVID-19 restrictions in place across the state,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Naplan tests will not go ahead for 2020.

Education Minister Grace Grace said arrangements for the remainder of Term 2 were made in accordance with advice from state and national health experts.

“At the beginning of the year whoever would have thought we would face a global health pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes?” Ms Grace asked.

“We moved quickly to a learning at home model when the health advice directed us to do so and it has worked incredibly well in providing students with lessons and activities in the home.”

“But of course, we know that nothing can match face-to-face learning children get in the classroom.”

Health and safety, at school

“Health and safety will continue to be our main focus in kindies and schools. Any staff and students who are unwell must not attend school,” Ms Grace said.

Social distancing and hygiene measures remain in place at Queensland schools:

  • All adults must maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres. Adults must not gather in groups in and around school grounds, car parks, school gates and outside classrooms.
  • Parents should use drop and go options rather than walking children into school grounds.
  • Schools will work with their communities to modify student and traffic movements around their schools.
  • Strict hygiene protocols at schools will remain in place.
  • Schools may use larger locations or classrooms within the school. They may designate new or different drop-off/pick-up points for parents. Staggered lunch breaks, start/finish times and other activities may be used.

What we’ve learnt

While parents have struggled to become unqualified teachers, home-schooling has had one benefit. COVID-19’s disruption to the 2020 schooling year has given year 12 students an advantage for transitioning into tertiary studies.

As students prepare to head back to school in Queensland on Monday, QUT education’s Associate Professor Jill Willis says online lessons have created a new education culture. Associate Professor Willis is a specialist on student performance and assessment.

“It’s been a challenging trek for Year 12s and coping with online learning in their final year has set up this cohort particularly well for tertiary studies and life after school,” Professor Willis said.

“The adaptability, perseverance and community spirit that students have already shown are achievements setting them up well for transition to tertiary studies and post school life.”

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