The strength, vitality and resilience of the students, parents and staff was very much to the fore as they worked together to ensure access to high-quality education during stressful and challenging times.
“Our recent experiences tell us that when we work together, we can solve any problems and continue to meet the individual needs of the people in our community,” Mr Nicholls said.
The students were forthright in their comments regarding the restrictions. School captain Zane Saeed says coming back to a distraction-free and focused environment has helped, especially in progressing learning so close to the HSC exams.
School vice-captain Elise Rourke says it is a lot easier to stay motivated now school has returned. “We're able to support each other through our class work in a way that was extremely challenging through online learning, and I've been re-discovering the importance of class discussions and immediate feedback on tasks,” she said. “It's still a little stressful with the uncertainty of the HSC, but we're all in the same boat and we've got so much support from our teachers.”
Fellow vice-captain Joel Christensen says the structure of a classroom is beneficial to learning. “Although the freedom of learning remotely was advantageous, the separation from classmates and friends was challenging,” he said. “It was an interesting experience, but I am glad to be back in a physical classroom.”
Year 10 student Lucy Green did not enjoy doing schoolwork at home. “I found it is boring and hard to learn,” she said. “I like going to school because it gives me time with my friends, and I am an interactive learner, so it is a lot easier to keep up with my work.”
Mr Nicholls says it is wonderful to see the energy and joy the students bring to the learning spaces as St Clare’s returns to face-to-face teaching and expressed his gratitude to the Catholic Schools Office for its “excellent work” in sourcing cleaning resources and for the financial assistance that has allowed St Clare’s to employ extra cleaners at the school.
“Over the past eight weeks, we have learnt many things regarding software packages, internet accessibility, communicating online, and the need for a sound routine when working from home,” he said. “My thanks to students, parents and staff for their commitment and continued willingness to learn and support each other as we navigate the COVID-19 environment.”
School captain Grace McCallum says adapting to online learning was a challenge all students at St Clare’s had to face, especially Year 12 students. “None of us ever thought this would be the way our last year at school would pan out, but nevertheless here we are,” she says. “During our time away we all realised how important learning is with the company of our friends. I think every student at St Clare’s has a newfound appreciation for the time they get to spend with friends, peers and teachers at school.”