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How’s school going? Here’s what readers are telling us

An absolute nightmare! Three kids, grade 2, grade 5 and year 7. Wifi is dropping in and out, grade 2 can’t concentrate with the noise, distraction. He needs the structure of a classroom environment at school. My other 2 children are trying their best. Kids need routine and structure. This is experimental learning at best, and not what my children deserve. Open schools up Dan Andrews! You’re at odds with the PM on this. – Anonymous

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My daughter’s first day back, she is doing year 12 VCAL online at Nagle College, Bairnsdale. The online website crashed. She is now having a day off. – Charley Daniel


It’s a disaster, school says they’ll be teaching for about 2 hours per day. Parents of primary school kids can’t work at home and supervise kids learning at the same time. Need one teacher and 1 assistant teacher online seven hours per day per class, this will allow 1:1 teacher discussions while the other staffer supervises the rest of the class online. – James


Congratulations to the NBN who have chosen this morning to conduct three hours of planned maintenance in our area between 9am and 5pm. Excellent for all the distance learners. – Ellie


It would help if they gave us more info other than we’re back at school and log in online to empty portals. They’ve had weeks to get sorted! – Anonymous


I’m sure it would be fine if I didn’t have to work. But it seems the government position is to make me choose between keeping my job vs education for my 5-year-old. – Anonymous


It’s a nightmare having a 15-year-old turning 16 “studying from home”. I cannot micromanage him whilst I am working from home. – John

Evie Macheda, 5, starts remote learning at home on the first day of term two.

Evie Macheda, 5, starts remote learning at home on the first day of term two.Credit:Tanya Macheda


I have three younger brothers (two in year 9 and one in year 11) who are unable to get onto their school’s online portal to complete activities/schoolwork. I’m just glad that I finished year 12 last year! – Matthew Kanizay


Dreadful. Clearly our government thinks working from home is a joke, and we all have plenty of spare time to supervise children. Grade preps don’t learn without supervision, and parents who are working hard (which is the case for most of us who still do have jobs) don’t have the ability to provide this supervision. – Anonymous


Poorly organised by school and even with a laptop and three ipads a lot of the tech and applications pretty hit and miss. Stressed kids x 2 and frustrated parent, impossible to work from home while home schooling concurrently. Nil productivity for ANYONE. All because teachers don’t see their role as essential and just do their job, like all the others doing their jobs and keeping the community and society moving. – Walter

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Lots of information etc. for schools, but no information, direction or support for kindergartens! – Anonymous


After 30 minutes both my kids are crying and my wife is angry at me. I now have a greater respect for teachers. Let’s pay them more. – Anonymous


As a teacher, this has been worse than any day at school. It has been a constant barrage of questions from almost every corner including kids who for some reason now can’t read instructions, we still have to contact students we haven’t heard from (over half of our cohort) whilst reviewing work etc. It’s been a nightmare! Give me face-to-face teaching anytime… – Peter


I’m hiding in the staff room. – Natalie Bailey


Not so good. I have a grade 1 and grade 2. We just finished today’s tasks (11.40am), so we have been busy for 3 hours. I took the day off work to get them started, but I can’t do this everyday. I’m about to go to the school to see if they will be able to attend tomorrow. If both parents are working during the day then this isn’t going to work for very long. ScoMo is right. – Anonymous


It is an absolute nightmare. You are given a few tasks and then are expected to sit next to the child to help them do it. The teacher meets the class for 15 minutes each morning. That is it. It’s impossible to hold down a full-time job. Am concerned that I will now have performance issues at work. I am a single parent. – Lissie


WebEx failed. Fifteen minutes with the teacher daily online is apparently all we are getting (state primary school). Feeling a lack of leadership from the school and very unclear what I am supposed to be doing! – Richard


Very frustrating! Lots of connection issues and no face-to-face teaching. Just multiple tasks set for completion. – Anonymous


Aaaaaargh! – Tim


Chaos, this is home schooling, not remote learning, not sure how two parents working from home are supposed to undertake this. 1. We are only just receiving instructions late last night and this morning. 2. Online services are outdated and do not work on Android devices (they rely on Adobe Flash, which is at end of life and being discontinued). 3. School of the Air has been running since 1951 with more success than this. – Ian


As a year 12 VCE student who has never been able to study at home, today has been really stressful and distracting. – Anonymous

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Today has been a disaster. I am a healthcare worker and have just got home from work. My wife is crying and has just stormed off in frustration at trying to keep our grade 1 child focussed, whilst having a 4-year-old daughter running around the house too. We’ve managed to complete about half the tasks allocated to us for the day (we get an email from the school telling us what to do) but the Grade 1 boy needs constant supervision and this is something that’s impossible whilst trying to work from home also. He really needs a classroom environment to stay focused. The 4-year-old is supposed to be at kinder also but unfortunately I suspect our attention will be on trying to keep the older one focused. I understand there will be teething problems, but this is not sustainable and adds significant strain to what is already a stressful environment at home. I really hope the schools will reopen in the coming month or so if coronavirus cases remain low (if it is safe to do so), otherwise it will be months of misery in this house. – Anonymous


I’m a stay at home parent so I have the time to devote to schooling without having to worry about work, and even I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work we need to fit into the week. I can’t imagine how working parents will manage. My kids are young (year 3 and 1) so they need quite a lot of guidance and support. It’s hard for me to deliver two curriculums simultaneously. It’s hard enough just to sift through the daily and weekly tasks to figure out a functional schedule. Day one in the bag and we’ve all been in tears today. My kids love school usually. This isn’t anything I can call school, and I can’t even begin to list the ways it is an inadequate substitute. What price are we paying for this decision to close schools to most kids? – Anonymous


Lauren, from Bayside Secondary school, takes part in her online school class as her mother Gayle, a teacher from Flinders Christian College, takes students for online schooling in Melbourne.

Lauren, from Bayside Secondary school, takes part in her online school class as her mother Gayle, a teacher from Flinders Christian College, takes students for online schooling in Melbourne.Credit:AAP

Miss 14 has level 5 funding. No extra assistance at home though. Pass some of her aide funding over to us so we can pay someone who is willing to work with her at home. Today included kicking her walls screaming that school is stupid and refusing to do anything productive. The system is way too complicated – a Google classroom for every subject. The refusal of the education department to allow zoom….she woke to 66 new messages, she only read her check-in one then closed her computer for the day. Where are the supports for our funded students? – Cheri


I am a parent of three children with learning difficulties (dyslexia and dysgraphia etc). Dyslexic kids often struggle to understand what is expected of them and need a lot of support to get started and complete tasks. My husband took the day off work to help me get through the day and we barely managed. I will have to put my own career firmly to one side to try and make this work. Why is Bunnings still open but mothers (mostly) are expected to carry the load of educating our children? This reeks of patriarchy in my opinion! Surely schools are an essential service? – Claerwen


After the first day, I’m now listening to very loud music to avoid drinking an entire bottle of wine. Maybe the kids (year 1 and 3) don’t need so much supervision at school but it seems at home they need to check the answer for everything and have no capacity to think for themselves. The school clearly has no idea what it’s doing and just sent home glorified homework tasks. My heart goes out to those trying to hold down jobs. Open the schools, this is ridiculous. – Anonymous


My grandson’s school has no face to face time on line with their teacher not even a recorded video message. Parents don’t get the timetable for the next day until 4 pm the day before. This is an international baccalaureate school. Pathetic when you consider school broke up early so teachers could have prepared for this. – Helen Gilhome


Disaster. 3, 6 and 9 year old kids at home. 9 year old was happy enough although I’m sceptical of the learning outcomes achieved. The other 2 chaos. Crying, screaming, hiding under tables. And no, I didn’t manage to get to even half of my own work. It’s going be a late night answering emails. I appreciate it’s the first day, but I honestly cannot see how I can manage work from home and 3 kids for an entire term. – Anonymous


Nightmare. Poor instruction from school, no face to face instruction/interaction for Year 8 student. A weeks worth of poorly explained work dumped into Compass. My daughter with dyslexia struggled with knowing what to do and how to prioritise the work. Luckily I had the day off so could be there to help her through, but what about tomorrow when I have my own work to do? – T

Not too bad, actually

I’m a teacher and so far, so good! A very large volume of emails at the moment but we’ve been able to work through most issues. – Callum


Better than expected! My two eldest daughters are plugged into their iPads, and will be until 3.15pm following their grade 1 and grade 4 curriculum with their whole class through Zoom. My 1-year-old is plugged into The Wiggles! I’m worried about so much screen time, but it is better than the alternative- which would be me! Tricky with a 1-year-old. Aside from hearing about some very sad staffing issues through The Age, the girls school has been super organised and I have every confidence they will have a great virtual term. – Olivia


Timetables all sorted-kids made it up yesterday so we’d know who had what and when – Donna Lancaster

Donna Lancaster's four children made this timetable to help them negotiate home school a little easier.

Donna Lancaster’s four children made this timetable to help them negotiate home school a little easier.Credit:Donna Lancaster

Pretty easy to be quite honest. (Even though I’m in year 12 and still confused on what the VCAA are doing) Considering it will be a half day of school with only having three classes. – Nick


It’s going as well as can be expected: by which I mean we have agreed to a plan, a ‘timetable’ that includes some breaks – for all of us – and we’ll see how it works today, and work together to improve tomorrow. It’s a team effort. – Anonymous


Considering the circumstances, I would say pretty good! Difficult to motivate my children as they still feel like they’re in holiday mode but we’re getting through it. This isn’t an ordinary turn of events and you can’t put the blame on the teachers nor the government. Keep your patience and try a bit harder as everyone is in the same boat! – Anonymous


Pretty good. Joined a call this morning at 9.30 am. The call ended at 10.20 am and I have been doing the assigned work since then! – Sebastiano Byrne


As a teacher in a state school, my kids don’t fully return until Friday but I have sent work out for them to complete. Almost all of my kids have completed it this morning because ‘they are bored and want to return to school’. I think this will be much more successful than originally thought! – Anonymous


Beautiful. Kids self-motivated and happy. Internet working for all. No complaints here. – Sophie


Surprisingly smoothly. I have three teenage sons (years 9, 11 and 12) and they seem to have adapted very well. My main concern was the capacity of the NBN, touch wood, no issues so far. I am fairly tech savvy but I am nowhere near my sons who are all ‘digital natives’ and seem to have embraced the new learning environment. As a parent I was really pleased to hear all three of my sons actively participating in classroom discussions. Finally, I would like to thank all teachers and support staff who have been working incredibly hard to make this work. We would agree that it isn’t ideal but under the circumstances it seems the best option. – Peter Redden


I have a year 12 and year 10 – all went perfectly. Our school went online two weeks before the end of term – all issues ironed out. Microsoft teams worked well. Teachers teaching for the whole class. Kudos to the school and the teachers. – Anonymous


Given I’m in year 12, it went really well. Teachers are working so hard to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and we should all be more grateful for it. Being able to learn from home is a privilege – there are no alternatives, and we just have to accept that this is our reality for now. It could be a lot worse. – Bridget


My two teenage kids in year 11 and year 8 seemed happy to back with their peers. I could hear my daughter’s singing lesson from the other room where I was working. They came out for breaks smiling. I think they feel more connected to the outer world through the structure of the school classroom. My hope is that this continues! – Fleur Summers


It’s been a massive learning curve here for grade 1 – but we’ve also had some fun, completed reading, writing, art and maths tasks and sworn at the systems as we attempt to learn them quickly. Our teacher is doing an amazing job under the circumstances. – Kelly E


I’m a secondary teacher and I’ve been at my PC since 8am. Haven’t had time for breaks or lunch, it’s been really hectic trying to provide offsite learning to my students. Having said that I am really proud of the kids I teach. They’ve all logged in and we’ve gone over work expectations, tried troubleshooting a few issues and sorted out how we’re going to get through this as a class. I’m sure there’s a lot behind the scenes that I can’t see, such as parents organising these guys to get online and talk with me and manage their learning. It’s a massive collaborative effort and so far I am (like many others I’m sure) exhausted but ready for more. – Anonymous


Wasn’t the disaster I thought it could be. My grade 3 boy and I worked side by side at the dining table, my grace 6 daughter was at her desk following the excellent guidance given by her teacher on her own. My work did suffer today, so some juggling will be required- the 1.5 hours of making school lunches and travelling to the office will now likely become 1.5hrs of early morning work time for me, before the school day starts at 9. Some work in the evenings may also be needed. We just have to remember, that despite everything, we really are in the lucky country right now- good times will return. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else during COVID-19. Huge thanks to all our teachers and healthcare workers, you’re all champions. – Stephanie


From the standpoint of an IT professional; it went surprisingly well. I think our primary school was reasonably prepared. At least the online systems were performing well with access all sorted. The communications were good. Online lessons have not gone into full swing yet but they had tasks prepared and took the results via email. My time is another story. A few hours lost to school so now I’m just taking a break from my long WFH day. I figure this is likely the new norm, but I do realise I’m in a relatively lucky position. – SPB


We are amazed at how well it goes. Miss 8 completely engaged in her zoom classroom from 845 to 3pm. Both parents working from home and find she can mostly be left to them. Amazing effort and attitude and communication from teachers and school leadership at Haileybury College. Can’t praise them enough. – Matthew


As a public high school teacher, I think our school did well. High attendance and participation today. All classes and subjects organised at least a week in advance by our staff. There were some internet issues today but they seemed to be sorted out. It must be frustrating for parents having multiple kids (especially primary kids) at home with internet issues and I am not sure how other schools went. I think the governments, state and federal have done a good job keeping Australia from the catastrophic scenes we’ve witnessed in other countries. The advice may be that shutting schools may not have made a difference. I don’t know. We’re making the best of the situation at my work. So are the kids. They are for the most part resilient and cheerful. It was great to see them today. – Matthew


I am incredibly grateful for our teachers and school staff that they have all put in so much effort over a very short space of time to put together the best home learning curriculum that they can. It is a challenge for sure. My partner and I are both working from home and we are home learning with our son, Year 1. From one day to the next, some things will work really well, whilst others will not work very well. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have got. And when our children head back into our classroom, our wonderful teachers, whom are so skilled at what they do, will have a way to bring our kids back to where they need to be at. #thankyouteachers – Anonymous


Time will tell…

Eight-year-old Zack Wong sent this drawing of his Easter in isolation.

Eight-year-old Zack Wong sent this drawing of his Easter in isolation.Credit:Zack Wong

It started very positively. The kids were ready by 8.30am, and we flew into the basics, literacy and numeracy, and all done by 11.20am. I am hiding my anxiety. There is no way I can produce high quality strategic plans and reports whilst overseeing my children in their learning. My employer (state government) is flexible in every respect, and clear in their communications, that they are here for us to find the “balance”. But in this scenario, there is no balance to be found. The way I could find balance would be to take leave without pay, or at half pay. But that’s not a financially viable option for my family. I feel our essential services like supermarkets and triage have been able to put effective hygiene protocols in place that are working. Please, we need to install these protocols at our school gates and get our kids back in. Social distancing can continue in the home and authorities regulate accordingly. But our kids are the losers in all this. No school, no social contacts, no playgrounds….. it’s gone, overnight. Living their young lives via a virtual reality should not be our go to option, until we’re in a position where school hygiene is insufficient protection. – Kate Hill


The screaming and shouting has subsided a little now, but it’s going to be a very long term! – Anonymous


First day back at school is going okay but a poor substitute for kids interacting directly with teacher and classmates. I can only comment on primary school age kids but the more kids you have in different years – particularly below grade 4, the trickier it is for the parent to co-ordinate. It’s not remote learning – there’s no chance the parent can get on with their own work – it’s constant supervision. – Anonymous


As a teacher I dealt with the usual silly behaviours and sometimes reticent attitudes towards working. Occasionally I would have a visit from a student from another class who would come into the chat line and say very inappropriate things. In many ways, it’s just a digital environment and the same issues of teaching teens are present – that is, some kids want to learn, others don’t. The good thing is that we can outline all the work that needs to be covered. The bad, and this is the same in the classroom, is behaviour. The triumph of the ‘no phones’ policy has now got to contend with the difficult screen time behaviours that were present prior to this year. Is it a step backwards – time will tell. – Anonymous


Single working parent, one grade 4 and two grade 1s. We more or less worked through the materials for today except the Physical Activity stuff, as they are much happier just running around the backyard doing their own games; and with an added Art class by popular request. No online classes at all, which I thought was really surprising – definitely not getting much work-from-home done! Have asked my employer to stand me down as soon as they figure out whether they qualify for JobKeeper, since I only have so much leave to use up on home-schooling. – Anonymous


I’m a primary school teacher and I’ve been on call with families and students regarding learning at home since 9am. Yes it is hectic. Parents are going to be overwhelmed. Teachers are overwhelmed. Think about the teachers who have children of their own who also need to support their own child. Everyone is learning. But it is only temporary. As much as I would love to be in a classroom with 30 of my students, I’d rather everyone is safe and healthy for the time being. In the grand scheme of things, this is a time period we can learn and adapt to challenge our persistence! Good luck to all families, parents, students and teachers on term 2. – Anonymous


I’m a primary school teacher and I do not know a single teacher that insisted schools be closed, like some have suggested. It has been a steep learning curve over a short amount of time for teaching staff, and like some parents and students, quite stressful. Yes the internet is unreliable, and video meetings drop out or have poor audio. Today a big section of the remote learning platform was unable to be accessed due to high demand and poor internet capabilities. We are all doing the best we can given the circumstances. It wasn’t our decision to close schools, but while it has been difficult, I would rather keep the community safe from potential infection than take the risk and keep schools open. – Anonymous


I teach in a private co-ed school, and had a really sore head (and neck) after four hours of solid remote teaching. We are talking about constant replying to questions, checking online work, giving feedback, giving reminders/ additional instructions, on top of all the planning that used up most the school ‘holidays’. While not all schools are alike, it is very demoralising to read parents’ disparaging remarks about teachers. I will say that most teachers would love for the students to be back at school, although the fear of an outbreak is real. School grounds are notorious for spreading viruses. (Think gastro, flu, chicken pox, what more Covid-19). For those parents whose kids seem to have had a good start, just remember that there has been lots of work that has gone behind it, and there continues to be an enormous amount of work to sustain it. I have my own kids at home too, and they have certainly been neglected today. All my attention was on my own classes. Having said all of that, I am grateful for technology, and I am grateful for my students, and I am grateful that we are keeping safe and well. – Anonymous


I need to say that losing one term of school learning is not the end of the world. The dux of one of my schools came to Australia after living in a refugee camp with very little schooling for five years. He didn’t know the English language when he began schooling in Australia in Year 9. He got an ATAR of 99.8. When life goes back to normal, teachers will make sure kids know the essentials in their learning. A parent’s job is to make sure the kids are safe and happy. If they don’t get all their work done…. so be it. I’m a principal that has children. Don’t stress if they can’t do all the work. Don’t stress if you can’t help them. It will be OK. Keeping a healthy, happy environment is the role of a parent. The online glitches will be fixed and it will all work. Remember…. if it doesn’t the impact on students will be minimal. – Anonymous


Not easy for the PS daughter whose instructions could have been clearer but it went well with the older HS daughter whose school is engaged and she is learning, and as a HS teacher today went well, albeit not easy to have discussions but we tried. The state govt is doing the right thing. I feel sorry for stressed parents and students and hope it will get easier with perseverance, But this is something we simply have to do. – Darren

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