Grammar moves online

Schools making plans for coronavirus

GIPPSLAND Grammar will move to a home learning education model from Monday, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That means today is the students’ final day on-site at their respective campuses.

Students across the school’s three campuses from the Early Learning Centre through to year 12, will use interactive online tools to complete their learning at home for the final week of term one.

It is expected normal schooling will resume early in term two, with the exact date to be determined.

Gippsland Grammar’s teachers and students have been trialling this new style of learning during the past few weeks, and there will be a three-day transition period from Monday until Wednesday before all Gippsland Grammar staff and students fully embrace the new system from Thursday.

The Garnsey campus will aim to run regular scheduled classes using a combination of Zoom (an online meeting program similar to Skype), VOS, email and other communication tools.

Scheduled classes will be replaced either in total or in part by a Zoom session, with other learning support materials used as appropriate.

Zoom allows teachers to run a class (called a ‘meeting’) with up to 100 attendees, and teachers can either broadcast themselves via their laptop cameras or project their laptop screens.

There is a ‘whiteboard’ function which allows drawing as on a physical whiteboard, and students can type questions into a question bar or use their microphones to ask questions.

Students will adhere to a modified timetable of classes, which has six periods.

From 1pm, students will be expected to use the afternoon to complete any tasks as directed by their teachers or study, but have been directed to give themselves a break from the screen, get outside and walk the dog or take a run.

Principal David Baker said in a time of uncertainty, he was proud of how the teachers had adapted to the new ‘Learn@Home’ model, and how students had risen to the challenge.

“As always, the wellbeing of our community is our top priority,” he said.

“While there are still no reported cases of COVID-19 infection within the Gippsland Grammar community, the decision to move to Learn@Home came as the school’s COVID-19 response team felt there was no real way a school could ensure the social distancing recommended by health authorities and government.”

In a letter sent home to parents, Mr Baker said he realised it was a bold move, but the school community “is not immune from being anxious about the pandemic”.

“Significant absences at our junior campuses in particular indicate many families are already making plans in anticipation of the inevitability of this event,” he said.

“Making this decision pro-actively allows us to remove this uncertainty, and also to facilitate a smoother transition into what is a new frontier for us all.

“I understand this decision will create some difficulties for working families regarding student supervision, which is why we have previously forecast possible closures and why we are providing this advance notice.

“At this stage we hope to return to on-site learning early in term two and we will confirm this exact date with you as soon as possible.”

The school’s COVID-19 response team has been monitoring the changing conditions throughout the entire term, and as the situation escalated, daily updates had been shared with parents and guardians.

Before the government introduced bans on large public events, Gippsland Grammar had postponed its biennial fair, (due to be held Saturday).

It has also cancelled camps, excursions, sporting commitments, assemblies, chapel services, traditional parent teacher interviews and music concerts.

Caulfield Grammar School, Melbourne Girls Grammar, Ballarat Grammar and Scots School in Albury have suspended classroom teaching.