Peel High, Calrossy put return to school plans in motion
Tamworth schools are preparing for students to file back into classrooms in the coming weeks as restrictions loosen as fewer cases of coronavirus are diagnosed. Last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a gradual back-to-school plan for students from May 11. The plan would see students initially going to school for one day a week, with attendance increased in stages if coronavirus rates remain low. Rod Jones, the principal of Peel High School, said the school has remained open for students whose parents are essential workers. But, as the staged return begins, the focus will be on ensuring Year 12 classes get what they need. "We intend to have year groups back each day," he said. "The emphasis will be to get Year 12 back to normal classes as soon as possible. "When the students return in Week 3 on a year-by-year basis, we will have a set timetable." Mr Jones said the classes would continue with the online components during the initial return, but the relevant faculty members would support the students. He added it would give them the chance to clarify any problems they had with their teachers. "Year 11 will run with their normal timetable, and some of those teachers have said they will run extension activities those days so they can have significant input with the students in a normal classroom environment," Mr Jones said. "Schools should stick to about 25 per cent of the student population on-site at any given day, and we have a very large year 7 group so they will return on Monday. "We are able to piggyback Year 11 and 12, and we are looking at Year 12 returning to school four days a week and piggybacking with other year groups." Mr Jones commended his staff for adapting to current circumstances so quickly. "It has been an extraordinary six weeks," he said. "I have such an awesome staff, and I am so proud of them all. The staff across the state really took up the challenge going from a conservative, standard teaching challenge to running online in four days. "They have done everything in their power to make sure that everything was available ... with a lot of professional learning we have become better at what we do." David Smith, principal of Calrossy Anglican School, said like every other school, they are following the advice of health authorities and are still working out their final plan. "The primary concern is safety for children and safety for staff, and we have been guaranteed it is safe to return, so are wanting to do that as quickly as we can," he said. "We are looking at risks really carefully, but the biggest challenge for us has got to be that we are a boarding school as well. "High priority has got to be given to Year 12 who are in the middle of their HSC." Mr Smith said having 40 boarders completing their HSC, which is a difficult situation they are trying to find a solution for. He added although the government wanted to see students in the same families return on the same day, it would be too hard to manage. Mr Smith said for the first two weeks of the term it would be open for children of essential services, then week three and four would see the return of other classes. He added that he was pleased the Department of Education was allowing each school to decide the best plan of action. Mr Smith said the teachers are missing the children and are excited to see them return to school. He commended them for their hard work during the past few weeks to ensure the best possible learning tools were used. "Well done to parents too," Mr Smith said.