You couldn’t wipe the smile off the young kids’ faces at schools across the Cardinia Shire on Monday 18 October, as prep and foundation students returned to onsite learning for the first time in months.
At Pakenham Consolidated School, you could feel the excitement in the air as the 5-year-old students shared their enthusiasm for being back with their teachers and friends in person.
“How do you feel about being at school?“ we quizzed a group of energetic young pupils.
“GOOD!!“ they chimed back in unison, the smiles beaming on their faces.
“What’s the best part about being back?“ we asked.
“We get to be back in the classroom and we get to see our friends,“ Mackenzie said.
“…and we get to colour in – it’s fun doing art together,“ Madilyn added.
“I like it because we don’t have to go on remote learning,“ Levi said, while Madison chimed in that it was good that they couldn’t “be muted“ in the real-life classroom.
“I like being back in the classroom and playing games and playing outside with my friends,“ Declan said.
All the kids agreed that they had missed their teacher Ms Robinson a lot, and they much preferred learning at school to working at home – and the teachers were equally as excited to welcome the kids back to onsite learning.
Ms Robinson, the kids foundation teacher and the school’s foundation transition coordinator said that it had “been amazing“ to see how excited the students were to get back to the real-life classroom.
“We’re all just wrapped to have them back onsite,“ she said.
“We’ve had quite a few children onsite during lockdown whose parents are essential workers, but it’s been so great to see them all back together.
“They came in with big smiles running through the gates this morning, so it was really good!“
Ms Robinson said that at the moment, foundation students were back onsite three days a week, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the grade 1’s and 2’s will be making their way back to campus on Thursdays and Fridays – alternating days of remote and onsite learning with the younger year level so as to ease back into things.
“The news that the kids will be coming back earlier than expected has been pretty well received,“ Ms Robinson said.
“With the new announcement, I believe the grade 5’s and 6’s will be back on Friday – so it’s just our 3’s and 4’s that will have to wait til next week.“
Ms Robinson said that while remote learning had been challenging, all the students had shown a remarkable amount of resilience over the past 18 months and the school was incredibly proud with everyone’s efforts.
“Teaching 5 year-olds on Webex has been fun,“ she said with a smile.
“But really they’ve all done such a great job – we’ve been really impressed with how well they’ve all coped.“
Ms Robinson said that while they hadn’t seen the end of remote learning quite yet, it was definitely great to be making strides towards a sense of normality once again.