News that prep to grade two pupils, and year 12 students, will return to the classroom on Friday has surprised school principals and left many parents confused at what it means for students in other year levels.
Principals had earlier been told there would be no return to face-to-face learning in term three.
With exams looming next month for year 12 students, secondary principals welcomed the early return to help them get the most out of their remaining weeks of school.
But in primary schools the return to classes - for a week and a day before school holidays - is more complex.
Delacombe Primary principal Scott Phillips said with restrictions easing in regional Victoria, many parents will return to work, so the number of grade three to six children needing to attend school for supervision while they complete their remote learning will jump significantly.
With prep to grade two teachers back in their classrooms it will be a juggle to have staff available to supervise the older students while the grade three to six teachers continue conducting lessons remotely.
"We are really happy for our prep to grade two kids and families because it's really important for them to be at school. Remote learning is not easy for that age bracket so it's completely understandable why the government has made the decision at this year level - trying to find a midway point in terms of accommodating the health crisis we are in and welfare aspects."
And because schools, staff and parents had been told there would be no return to school during term three, teachers of junior classes would now have to reorganise their lessons.
"All their planning gets flipped around a bit because face to face teaching is very different to remote teaching," he said.
"We are constantly reminded about being flexible but it does take its toll."
IN OTHER NEWS
Sebastopol Primary principal Michelle Wilson was equally surprised at the announcement.
"I'm surprised we'll be back at all given the stop-start nature of term three," she said. "We've only done one full week of school this term."
She said it would be nice to see the children before the school holidays, but for a small school the return of selected grades creates challenges not only for families who may have children both back at school and remote learning, but for schools with multi-age classes and small staff.
"There's some complexity but it's worth working through so our youngest children can be here," she said. "Everyone has done a really good job of learning at home and we are really proud of what everyone has done at home ... but our youngest children do need that explicit teaching especially in the basics around reading, numbers and friendship."
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