Senior students seek return to school to combat ‘helplessness’

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

Year 12s should return to school immediately and other year levels should go back one or two days a week to boost students’ wellbeing and connection to school, senior students say.

The Victorian Student Representative Council said while reopening schools would inevitably increase COVID-19 case numbers, it would also end the “loneliness and helplessness” students were feeling 19 months into the pandemic.

“Students have told us that with every successive lockdown, learning gets harder and the disconnection from support networks and inability to plan further than a few days ahead takes a greater toll on their mental health,” it said.

The call for senior students to immediately return to face-to-face lessons was backed by new Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.

“Year 11 and 12 [should] be back in the classroom now, along with universities,” Mr Guy said. The opposition wants all year levels back in term four.

Year 12 student Mac Zamani said while he wanted to return to school, he was nervous about COVID-19 and had enjoyed being able to participate in all classes during remote learning.

“Being a disabled student, I’m finding the opportunity to go online and attend classes valuable,” Mac said. “But I can definitely appreciate the need to go back in person.

“Of course there’s a little anxiety and stress about going back so soon. I know year 11 and 12s who have had their first [vaccine] dose, but there would still be a decent amount who haven’t.”

The comments come amid increasing concerns about the welfare of Victoria’s 1 million students, including the 62,000 in year 12 who have endured terms of remote learning during their VCE.

Year 12s started receiving priority vaccinations on Tuesday as part of a 10-day blitz to ensure final exams can be held safely.

But with coronavirus cases increasing, the state government is unlikely to heed the student body’s requests, nor the opposition’s demand, for an immediate return to the classroom, stating these decisions are guided by health officials.

The government is also unlikely to grant the student body’s request for reduced content in exams at this late stage of the year.

Schools will not reopen to face-to-face learning this term, which ends for most schools on September 17.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said further plans for term four will be announced this week.

The government is promising more freedoms as vaccination rates increase.

“We are working on literally everything we can to make term four as normal as possible for everyone,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Guy stopped short of calling for all schools to immediately return to face-to-face learning but expressed sympathy for families doing “endless” home-schooling.

He said Victorians needed an alternative to shutting schools for weeks on end and pledged rapid COVID-19 testing in schools to enable them to reopen.

University of Sydney infectious diseases expert Robert Booy said Britain had spent billions on rapid antigen testing of all students, including asymptomatic ones, to diagnose people before they spread COVID-19 at school. He said the first students to return should be years 11 and 12, because they are being vaccinated, followed by primary school students.

“Looking at getting the primary schoolers and the years 11s or 12s back first, and then filling in the middle as we improve the immunisation uptake for the healthy 12- to 15-year-olds come October and November,” he said. “Primary school kids catch it mildly and don’t pass it on as much as older teenagers and adults. So primary school kids are really low risk.”

Professor Booy said children responded well to just one jab and compulsory vaccination of school staff made sense, as is mandated in NSW.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article

click fraud detection