Update 14 April
No Child Should be Turned Away From School
School is the hot topic as Term 2 approaches for most states, with Victorian schools starting today. ScoMo confirmed once again today that, based on medical advice, children are at low risk of contracting COVID-19. Schools will remain open to avoid parents to having to make a choice between their child’s education and having a job to feed their children. “That is not a situation that we would consider tolerable.” Today he reiterated that no child should be turned away from school if their parents cannot educate them at home.
Schools’ New Normal
It’s pretty much the same across Australia. Northern Territory was the only state for which I could not find any new advice, which I assume means that it’s school as usual for Territorian kids, but for all other states there’s a similar status quo as follows:
- Remote and flexible learning is encouraged wherever possible. Queensland will review this position midway through the term. South Australians seem a little more relaxed saying school attendance could continue ‘if it is safe to send your children to school’.
- On-site learning in general is reserved for students whose parents can’t work from home, or vulnerable students who do not have suitable learning environments at home. Students attending school will be supervised, with health precautions firmly in place.
- Many states have opted for a single method of teaching, meaning that those children who attend school will also be taught via the online format.
- Most states will consider temporary closure of schools if any cases of COVID-19 are identified, which will be assessed on a case by case basis.
- End of year exams may look different as adjustments are made, like compressed exam timetables and shortening exams.
- Children attending special schools can continue their specialised education programs at school.
What about laptops and computers for online learning?
Many children have neither a device for online learning nor internet access. Generally, schools are trying to assist these learners by loaning computers or working with school leaders to provide equipment to those in need. Some schools are making hard copies of teaching material available to students.
Telstra has offered assistance in the form of arranging internet access for 20,000 students across the country, and is working closely with Victoria and South Australia at present. In Victoria, the government will loan more than 6,000 laptops and tablets to students who don’t have access to digital technologies, and support Telstra’s service with an additional 1000 SIM-enabled dongle devices for internet access.
Will Year 12 become Year 13??
For a hypothetical Sally School-leaver, the coronavirus pandemic has severely interrupted her critical final year of school. There won’t be any formals, 18th birthday parties, or even driver’s licence testing for her this year.
Some have wondered if it will mean that ATAR and Senior Secondary Certificates cannot be issued this year, since NAPLAN assessments were cancelled for 2020 nationally. Some certification subjects are not physically able to be completed at present. So what does this mean for ATAR assessment and calculation?
The unanimous decision is fortunately that no Year 13 will be necessary. ATAR assessments will take into consideration the challenges of the pandemic, and adjustments will be made in the assessments, so that Year 12s can complete their schooling. Universities will also be taking into account the adjustments made for students wishing to enter tertiary education.
Here’s how some NSW students are experiencing their new style of learning:
Laura, Yr 9 says:
Learning from home is challenging simply because it is different. I’ve been trying to keep to my regular timetable so that I don’t miss out on work, but being at home means that if I’m having trouble with a concept or flying through work, I can spend a little more or a little less time on each subject or lesson.
Hunter, Yr 12 says:
“…initially, I couldn’t find the motivation. I had no routine and there was so much more I could do; from playing games to watching YouTube.
Then came the assessment I had to quickly finish. At that point, I created a routine that was similar to my school timetable and formed a functional workspace.”
Bad Behaviour with COVID-19 is Now a Crime
Some adults just behave badly. There have been a few situations where people with COVID-19 have intentionally coughed or spat on health workers or police. These acts of deliberate transmission have been nipped in the bud with harsh penalties, and are now classified as an offence under general criminal law. The offence of causing health workers, police, pharmacists, paramedics or other public officials the fear of virus transmission is punishable by hefty fines ($5000 on the spot in NSW) and up to 6 months in prison. Two people in ACT have already been charged.
For an overview of worldwide spread in race motion, take a look at Cyber Natives’ fascinating infographic.
- There have been 6,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and sadly, 61 have died
- 3598 people have recovered
Your Tip for Today
With so much learning online at the moment, it’s worth considering your cyber safety. Because – yes – there is such a thing as cybercrime, which you can report here: https://www.cyber.gov.au/report
A free eSafety booklet for parents and carers that covers online safety issues like managing time online, using parent controls, and responding to issues like cyberbullying and inappropriate content is available to download here.
These are eSafety’s top 10 steps to protect children online:
- Build an open trusting relationship around technology
- Co-view and co-play with your child online.
- Build good habits and help your child to develop digital intelligence and social and emotional skills — such as respect, empathy, critical thinking, responsible behaviour and resilience — and practice being good online citizens.
- Empower your child — wherever possible, help them make wise decisions for themselves
- Use devices in open areas of the home
- Set time limits that balance time spent in front of screens with offline activities
- Know the apps, games and social media sites your kids are using, making sure they are age-appropriate
- Check the privacy settings on the games and apps your child is using and make sure their profiles are turned on to the strictest privacy setting.
- Use available technologies to set up parental controls on devices that can filter harmful content, monitor your child’s use and limit or block their time
- Be alert to signs of distress and know where to go for more advice and support.
Hope Over Fear
As the younger generation tackles learning issues, the elderly are accumulating their triumphs too.
- A South Australian man who survived the holocaust of World War II, recently turned 100. His family was assisted by his aged care facility to have a small courtyard celebration of his courageous life that continues to inspire others.
Some centenarians are stronger than we might think.
- In Italy, a 102 year old woman named Italica Grondona recovered from heart failure related to COVID-19. The doctors have nicknamed her ‘Highlander – The Immortal’.
- Until recently it was thought that a 103-year-old Chinese woman named Zhang Guangfen from Wuhan was the oldest survivor of COVID-19, but William Lapschie of Oregon just trumped her victory as he turned 104 this week, after recovering from the virus.
And finally, in a rare gesture Queen Elizabeth delivered an encouraging speech watched by 24 million viewers. The 93-year-old urged us to “take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”
What About You?
I’d love to hear your stories.
- What are your thoughts about your children learning from home?
- How are you juggling working from home with children at home?
- How are your elderly loved ones seizing the day?
Drop me a comment.
PM Interview on Sunrise
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt Media Release – 9 April
NSW Govt – Fine for Spitters – 9 April
Australian Dept of Education – Coronavirus information – 6 April
VIC Students Education Update – 9 April
ACT Education update – 8 April
NSW Quotes from secondary school children – 9 April
NSW School Operations – First published 23 March, updated 9 April
QLD Education updates – 13 April
Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority – Frequently Asked Questions – 3 April
WA Education update – 1 April
SA Education update – 6 April
Tasmania Education update – 3 April
Telstra providing internet access for education
Practicing e-Safety – booklet from Australian Government
ABC News – 100 year celebration
People aged over 100 recovering from COVID-19
The Queen’s Speech