It’s all systems go at McAuley Catholic Central School, which returned to full-time face-to-face teaching yesterday, after two months of remote schooling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Principal Eamonn Moore said that after the fires and disrupted start to the year, McAuley staff felt it was important for the students well-being and welfare to be together, to get back into a routine, and to get back to their academics.
“Their well-being was at the core of that call,” he said.
“Teachers have worked really hard on the remote learning program, and again, we didn’t want them to be doing two things.
He and the other staff were also aware that parents were doing it tough at home.
“It is hard; people have been using up their leave time; we just needed to get back to normal,” he said.
It was decided that a complete approach to returning to school would be employed.
“Rather than a confusing ‘this day, that day”, we figured let’s just pull the pin and try it,” Mr Moore said.
Rather than sending out a general directive, Catholic Education let the schools themselves decide if and when to return to normal operations.
“Catholic Education really asked us to look at our local scene and make the call from there,” Mr Moore said.
“We worked with what we called the tea bag schools, the Catholic schools at Tumut, Batlow, Adelong and Gundagai, the principals there, and we all made the call together as a cluster, and so far so good.”
The students have responded in kind, with very low absences at the primary and high school campuses yesterday.
McAuley Primary captain Georgie Austen said it felt good to be back.
“It’s exciting to see all our friends again,” she said.
“I’m happy that there is no social distancing in the school; you can still play with your friends.”
Having to spend two months schooling at home was tough on Georgie.
“It was really hard because I’m an only child and I didn’t have people to play with,” she said.
“I just played around the yard with the cat and did some gymnastics.”
Getting used to learning in school again has been a little difficult.
“It has been hard getting into the gist of things; it’s like the first day again,” Georgie said.
McAuley parent Jessie Riethmuller is happy with the school’s decision to go back.
“I think it’s great to do this as we live in a safe area compared to cities and we have no cases here,” she said.
“The staff did a fantastic job with remote learning but face-to-face is better while it’s safe to do so.
“If there is another wave and further lockdown measures are in place we may have to do remote learning again, but why not send them while it is safe now?”
While all McAuley students are back to school five days a week, their public school counterparts have adopted a staggered approach, in line with government guidelines.