As we near the end of a 10 week school term in lockdown, student wellbeing check-ins and meetings with parents have taken a focus at Korowal School.
"We've needed to put aside our usual expectations and respond as best we can. The only constant is disruption," principal Barb Fitzgerald said.
Their virtual programs in primary include Morning Circle Zoom sessions each day, online enrichment classes in Japanese, library and art, virtual science excursions, Bush Week activities and even NAIDOC week celebrations this term.
Talulah Vane, the primary coordinator, is excited to have organised a special offering for week 10. "The theme this year is 'Heal Country, Heal Our Nation' and each day we'll celebrate with music then a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country from one of our Aboriginal community members," she said.
"Jo Clancy will run virtual dance workshops for primary and high, and David King will conduct culture workshops. We've also dropped numerous activities into a work grid so the children can immerse in Healing Country all week."
At the other end of the school, HSC courses and examinations were disrupted, causing student concern at the lack of consultation.
Ms Fitzgerald states, "The impact of a four-week delay to the commencement of the HSC is concerning for students' academic capacity and their wellbeing. They will have been in lockdown for between 16 and 20 weeks, depending on when lockdown is released. We are all experiencing a brain fog and delaying the start date for their HSC isn't helping anxiety levels."
Prior to last week's announcements that all exams would proceed, Korowal surveyed students and parents for their comments. "Why weren't we consulted? Why weren't there any HSC students on the state consultation groups?" the students echoed.
The greater question of the relevance of the HSC surfaced. "Are exams even relevant for today's school leavers? How well can they measure a person's aptitude and readiness for creating a well-balanced work/life ethic?" enquired one parent.
Sagely, one senior student added, "NESA will need to rethink how the HSC system works. COVID has revealed the cracks. I have done all this work leading up to this moment. I will not lose momentum, I will only grow stronger. Life moves on. The HSC is not everything."
Ms Fitzgerald commented, "All students are missing real life social connection. At the same time, year 12 students have been trying to mentally prepare for graduating without certainty of whether, or when, their rituals and rites of passage will occur. Hopefully in coming weeks we will have greater clarity around when this will be possible."
Meanwhile, there is admiration for the resilience and dogged perseverance that students are displaying.
In acknowledging the part that parents have played, Ms Fitzgerald offered, "Families have been thrown into chaos, and children look to their parents to make sense of life. My greatest concern is that parents take the pressure off themselves and do what they can. Their kids are needing them to be happy and healthy, then they too will be ok."
Phone Korowal School on 4758 7466 or go to the website at korowal.nsw.edu.au