Anne-Maree Kliman, the Victorian Principals Association president representing primary school leaders, said teachers were “frantically” working out how to best keep in touch with their communities, should there be a shutdown.
She said some schools were “well placed for children to learn online”, with students owning devices and with families set up to access technological tools such as Microsoft 365 or Zoom.
However other school communities, said Ms Kliman, “may have no access, or limited access to the internet, based on their own socio-economic factors or internet reception”.
“They [teachers] may be providing workbooks, and a calendar of activities the children can do, in the event that school does not return.”
Ms Kliman said time will tell how prepared schools are for a shutdown.
“This is unprecedented. We’ve never had this happen,” she said. “And the other thing that may make it somewhat more difficult is that we don’t know how long this will go for.”
Sue Bell, president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, said schools had been preparing for a shutdown for weeks, however not all schools had live video “set up and ready to go”.
“It might be that students take home assignments that they’re going to be working on and emailing their answers or their work in to teachers. It will take on a huge range of looks.”
Ms Bell said schools’ capacity to cope with the new reality would also ”depend how long it goes on for”.
“I think everyone will have something they can work with students on, and it will vary over the coming weeks.”
Ms Bell said whether children’s learning would suffer, being at home, would depend on many factors including “how long it lasts, what their parents are able to work with them on, and do.
“There’s lots of reading and online activities that kids can do if they have access to the internet.”
“It’s going to be a difficult time but we will have to work together.”
Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.