Coronavirus: NSW students going back to school gradually

By Greg Whitby, 29 April 2020
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

This week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian set the clock for students to return to school. Starting gradually, there’s a plan to see everyone back in the classroom full-time in Term 3. What was really different about this Government announcement was that it leaves the details to the education experts!

Remember, in just two weeks at the end of Term 1, teachers transformed the way that schools delivered learning to their students because it needed to be done and they knew how to do it. They know their students and they know their communities. It’s great to see this trust in each school community, supported by system specialists, and government agencies to respond, just as they have always done.

In response to the news that students will gradually return to school from Week 3, there will be some tough questions about issues including social distancing, school buses, siblings and the special needs of students and staff with pre-existing health issues. Though schools don’t have all the answers yet, I am more confident than ever that they will continue to do what is needed to support our students with their learning and wellbeing in this challenging time. Schools will keep families updated as careful planning continues.

As a community, recent weeks demonstrate the faith we put in expert advice. We have flattened our lives, including suspending some of the most precious relationships we have, all to flatten the curve. A chief medical officer speaks at every Government press conference. We absorb the numbers, look at graphs, and try to make sense of the modelling. They’re the experts and we’ve been listening and following.

When our leaders get asked questions this week about the details of the plan to get our students back to school, there will be no ‘Chief Education Officer’ to turn to on the podium to take the tough question. That’s okay, because educators already know what to do based on the needs of their own communities. It’s great to see governments trust us to get on with it.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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