About a third of children at St Brendan’s live in the public housing estate in Flemington that was put into hard lockdown for several days in July, when Melbourne’s coronavirus case numbers spiralled out of control.
Mimi Asfaw, mother of son Henok, in year 5, and twin daughters Saroan and Meklik, in year 4, said she was relieved and very happy to have her children back at school receiving face-to-face learning.
“It’s very hard, especially for three kids in a small house, to be learning at home,” Ms Asfaw said.
“It’s very difficult, sometimes one is distracting another, so it’s very hard.”
The Asfaw family spent five days in hard lockdown inside the Racecourse Road tower they live in.
Ms Asfaw said the children were desperate for fresh air and would go to the window pleading to be let out whenever she opened it.
“Always they were asking for fresh air, ‘we want to go out, we want to go out’,” she said.
“If I opened the window they’d stand in the window, and they’d say ‘oh mumma we need fresh air’.”
The school ran a virtual “parents’ cafe” while teaching remotely. Initially it was a forum for asking questions and expressing worries but evolved into a bit of a talent show, Ms Moore said.
“Some parents came and taught us how to make masks, some parents taught us how to cook samosas.”
Primary school students have had a maximum of 11 weeks of face-to-face learning this year, and the school’s primary task in term four will be their mental health.
“We have to belong and feel connected with our peers and our school environment and with our teachers and then the learning will come,” Ms Moore said.
“We will be looking at the students academically and we will look at them in terms of flagging where kids were [before remote learning] and where they might need a little bit more support.”
But the return to face-to-face learning was spoiled for one high school in Noble Park, which had to shut on Sunday night after a VCE student tested positive to COVID-19.
Students at Nazareth College learned remotely on Monday after being told one of them who attended school for the General Achievement Test last week had returned a positive test.
Education Minister James Merlino said he expected to see the school reopen soon, and that occasional school closures would occur until a vaccine is found.
“Until we get community transmission down to a very minute level, or until we get a vaccine there will be occasions where, whether it’s a school or another setting, you will have cases, but we’ve got the systems in place to get the school opened as quickly as possible,” Mr Merlino said.
Louise Heinnen dropped off her son William, who is in prep at St Brendan’s, and said there were mixed emotions in their family of six.
Ms Heinnen’s older son, who is in high school, will not be able to return until October 26.
William has spent more of his first year of school at home than in classrooms, Ms Heinnen said.
“The social part he’s really missed, even just simple things like sports, you don’t realise how much in their first year that’s when they actually get an interest.”
Adam Carey is Education Editor. He joined The Age in 2007 and has previously covered state politics, transport, general news, the arts and food.