At the conclusion of the Virtual Classroom Programme the following data was collated.
The true test of any community is not when things are going well but when serious disruptions occur. The Coronavirus has proved to be a profound challenge to all schools including ours. It has fundamentally changed the way we are able to operate and tested us to find solutions in very short time frames.
The response from our school community has been inspirational and we are indebted to students, staff, and families for the steadfast way in which they have adapted so positively to these core challenges.
From the outset, the school has focussed on two core aims when developing its responses to the challenges. Firstly, to protect the health of the school and wider community. Secondly, to minimise the impact on the educational outcomes of students.
To care for our health, we progressively restricted the school’s programmes back to core learning activities. This resulted in much valued events such as Open Day, assemblies and productions being cancelled or postponed.
To protect learning continuity of students, the school prepared for a rapid transition to off-site learning. Firstly, we designed a model and developed a comprehensive set of protocols for what would become known as our ‘Virtual Classroom Programme’. The programme used our existing learning management system Agora for the provision of resources, timetabling, and communication. Zoom was used as the core delivery system, enabling our teachers to connect with students daily and follow their usual timetable while ensuring a comprehensive learning programme was provided.
The planning involved trialling, consultation, and professional learning. These efforts enabled the school to transition seamlessly to our ‘Virtual Classroom Programme’ on Tuesday 24 March while many schools in the state commenced early holidays. These four days were valuable in enabling further trialling and improvement of our remote learning programme. It enabled the school to smoothly recommence Term 2 with the virtual learning well established for students, staff, and families.
The school’s capacity to respond so quickly and effectively to this environment reflects the professionalism and dedication of our teaching and operational staff. At the same time, our teachers have consistently praised our students for their goodwill and good faith in their response to this unfamiliar environment. It has been particularly impressive to see the student attendance rate consistently remaining and around 99% each day. Equally, our parents have been very supportive and patient given the many impositions on work and family this situation has caused.
We have sought feedback from students and staff and continue to evolve our protocols and guidelines as we learn more about what works best in this new learning environment. We have commenced virtual year level meetings, tutorials and staff briefings. We are currently exploring the launch of virtual assemblies to connect our school community in these socially distanced times. We all look forward to the times when we are able to resume on-site and will have an even greater appreciation for the importance of our relationships and community.
Mark Torriero, Principal