Shepparton schools ready for six weeks of remote learning

By Madi Chwasta

Shepparton's school principals say teachers are prepared and staying positive for the next round of remote learning which starts from Wednesday.

Greater Shepparton Secondary College principal Genevieve Simson said while the announcement was disheartening, it was helpful remote learning systems were already in place and ready to go for the next six weeks.

“I know all the families and students would be so disappointed, but the reality is we have to contain the virus (COVID-19), and we all need to do our bit,” Ms Simson said.

“Our teachers are also confident they’ll be able to provide remote learning.

“And it's great we've got a learning platform called Compass, which parents and students are familiar with.”

Ms Simson said students still had the 700 laptops distributed during the last period of remote learning, and the school has been able to repair and send out another 70.

But she said they still had a number of internet dongles available which were not collected during the last period of remote learning.

“We’ve got those for students who need it (for internet access), and they’re available to collect them right now,” she said.

Ms Simson also said all three campuses would remain open for vulnerable students and children of essential workers - like all schools across regional Victoria - and school buses would continue running to allow students to attend.

She advised students learning from home to maintain a daily structure and to take breaks, and gave special reassurance to VCE and VCAL students.

“I would recommend students get up each morning, log-in with their learning mentor, start doing their work,” she said.

“They’ve got to take breaks for physical exercise, and our PE staff will continue to make videos taking students though exercise programs.

“VCE students will have their teacher available as they normally are at school - students can ask teacher for help, and teachers will be prioritising year 12 to give them the help they can.”

She said any updates would be communicated to families via Compass, and added that parents could contact the school if they had further questions.

Bourchier Street Primary School principal Denise Howley was similarly positive and said staff was determined to make remote learning successful for students and families.

“We felt we did a lot of things last time that worked really well,” Mrs Howley said.

“No doubt what we do will be even better.”

Her message to parents was to "hang in there", and to try and enjoy the family time despite the inevitable challenges.

“We’re always here for them, and they can contact us any time, because we want to support them in whatever capacity we can,” she said.

“They certainly did the most amazing job last time.”

Students will have pupil-free day on Tuesday, and will begin remote learning on Wednesday.

There will be no change to VCE and VCAL assessments except for the GAT, which will be moved from the end of Term 3 to the start of Term 4.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino has assured all VCE students will receive their ATAR before the end of the year.

Specialist schools will remain open for all students in regional Victoria, as will childcare and kindergarten services.