Packs for home

CLASSES by video conferencing and online resources, study packs being sent home and parents assisting their children through the school day.

This is the reality for primary and secondary students instructed to study from home in term two amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the state government announced most students would study at home, slowing the spread of the virus through physical distancing.

The decision was made following advice from the chief health officer that all Victorian government primary, secondary and special schools move to remote and flexible learning and teaching.

St Mary MacKillop College principal Michelle Haeusler told The Guardian their curriculum was online, with packs put together for practical classes.

"The students use (video conferencing app) Google Meet, so they do online, face-to-face to classes with their teacher," Ms Haeusler said.

Ms Haeusler said students were required to complete work uploaded onto online Google services, which was dependant on the subject.

"We understand that online is very exhausting in itself but the extra preparation for that is an added layer," she said.

"Then we've got some staff with students as well, so it's all very tiring."

The school day has also been shortened for students with four one-hour lessons throughout the day and another hour for independent study time.

Ms Haeusler praised staff working remotely from home, who she said have doubled their class preparation time.

"There's a lot of anxiety because they want to make sure their students are able to access their work and actually learn in this environment," she said.

Ms Haeusler said staff were encouraging parents to support and encourage their children in learning from home.

She said the school had also implemented one day off from school each month.

At Swan Hill College, school principal Andrew Sartori said staff were embracing the changes to their teaching.

"I think they're finding it more tiring than they thought it would be," he said.

"I think they're starting to get into a bit of a routine and get their heads around it."

In primary school, Swan Hill North Primary School principal Campbell McKay said they were keeping lessons to the basics.

"We're trying to keep it simple and keep it to the core of reading, writing and maths. We haven't branched past that," he said.

"We've continued with our model of our teachers contacting five students at once and doing a webinar or video conference."

Mr McKay said when teachers contacted their students, they had a half-hour timeslot to go over the student's work from the previous day.

"The first thing they do is check in on the work from the previous day," he said.

"It could be marking, or if there were problems that kids didn't understand they could check it, then they go into a reading activity.

"Then they discuss an activity for the following day."

Mr McKay said staff had been "great" taking on board the feedback on their classes.

For teachers with children still of school age, Mr McKay said were advised to rejig their days to fit in the teaching, while assisting their own children.

"They might do two or three hours of work then the preparation for school later in the day," he said.