Seventy-seven per cent of the Australian teachers reported being concerned about losing their social connection with students.
In Victoria, only vulnerable children and the children of essential workers can attend school. The state government, acting on advice from the state’s Chief Health Officer, has asked parents to keep children at home if possible.
Pivot chief executive Amanda Bickerstaff said the disruption to learning was “very real”.
Ms Bickerstaff recommended schools begin preparing now to provide the extra support, which could include increasing the number of teaching aides and instructional time in classrooms and employing tutors.
“If there was ever a time to support students and support teachers, it’s now,” she said.
“Teacher voices are often obscured. What we found was there was no whinging, no ‘we can’t do this’. We saw ‘we’re trying our best and this is really hard and the kids come first’.”
Mordialloc College assistant principal Marina Walsh said her staff were working to avoid significant setbacks.
“Our focus is to make sure students are learning the essentials so when they come back to school hopefully there’s not a great deal of loss of learning,” she said.
“Once they return we’ll be looking at keeping the expectations realistic and then slowly building on it.”
Professor Janet Clinton, an education academic at the University of Melbourne, said a disruption to learning was expected at such a time and was not due to any failure of teachers or students.
“Everybody’s working really hard out there and there will be some knowledge loss but the evidence shows there won’t be a lasting impact,” she said.
“It won’t be as bad as we all think. I’m not going to underestimate that some students will struggle and that’s awful but across the board the evidence says we’ll be fine.
Professor Clinton said recovery once children returned to classrooms needed to focus on their social and emotional needs.
“What we’re starting to hear from other national disasters and school disruptions is that the students’ levels of anxiety can go up. Their feeling of security is an issue so there could be behavioural issues,” she said.
“We should be getting them to see themselves as very capable learners across a variety of modes.
“I suspect kids will be really delighted to get back to school.”
Anna is a breaking and general news reporter at The Age.