“We know that for many kids, they’ll be anxious with the first day of school… [But there] is a lot of excitement,” he said.
“Many of our children have gone through a very difficult time, not being able to interact and play with their friends.”
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said there were “lots of happy smiling faces across Sydney” as she thanked teachers for all their work over lockdown, preparing for a safe return and getting vaccinated.
She said the public school staff vaccination rate was at about 90 per cent on Monday, ahead of the November 8 deadline.
“The learning from home that they [teachers] have done over the last term has just been extraordinary. The way that they’ve adapted, been flexible and really made sure that they had the strong delivery of education,” she said.
“I think that everybody across the state knows that we owe our teachers a lot of gratitude for everything that they’ve done. But now, obviously we’re back and it’s exciting to be back in the classroom and having students return.”
At MLC, Mr Sandral and Ms Sharke said this first week back would entail additional numeracy and literacy lessons to check student progress, but their welfare was the ultimate concern.
“At the end of the day I think the biggest challenge has been not being with their peers and the socialisation,” Mr Sandral said.
Ms Sharke has designed a wellbeing program for the rest of the year, so that each day starts with time for students to re-connect with their friends and teachers; they will spend time playing get to know you games and reacquainting themselves with the school site.
“We’ve got lots of different activities, circle time where they can talk about their experiences and feelings. We don’t really know what life’s been like for them… we are very conscious the girls have been away for a long time,” she said.
“I think it’s important we take the time to understand their feelings around coming back – school has been the ‘unsafe place to be’ all this time’ so it’s making sure they’re comfortable.”
Year 12 students also had the option of returning to school full-time on Monday ahead of their HSC, while the rest of students will return full-time from next Monday, October 25.
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