The Victorian Student Representative Council is increasingly concerned about the impacts to learning – as well as the mental and physical health of students, teachers, school staff and families – as schools across the state close and open with little notice due to COVID19 cases.
VicSRC is calling for the Victorian government to send all schools across Victoria back to remote and flexible learning until restrictions are back below stage 3 across the state. Schools must continue to provide onsite learning for students who cannot learn from home.
We understand that this is not a perfect solution for all students but neither is the current situation. We are worried about the health of our families and loved ones, we are worried about the health of our teachers and school staff and we are worried about our own health. We are also worried about our future.
The lack of warning around individual schools closing means not all of our schools have the remote learning structures in place. We don’t have our books for studying with us while we wait for days for our schools to reopen. Some of us are missing days of crucial learning, assessments and SACs and this is creating an even more inequitable education system.
We recommend this return to remote and flexible learning include a number of recommendations based of our survey of over 500 students across Victoria and captured in our reports, Learning from Remote Learning and Return to Remote Learning
- All students are provided easy access to mental health support – including primary school students.
- Schools should ensure the wellbeing of students, staff, leadership and families is the number one priority over workload and academic outcomes.
- Students must have agency over their data, bodies and learning environments during remote learning.
- Schools should prioritise student voice and agency during remote learning to ensure students remain empowered and motivated in their learning.
- VicSRC recommend the DET and Victorian Government prioritise education focused communications via appropriate platforms direct to students in a clear, accessible and timely way.
- Teachers and school leadership are understanding of the technology challenges faced by students and guarantee that no disciplinary measures will be taken in response to problems with internet and devices.
- Ensure every student has access to devices and internet to support their learning at school and at home.
- Have online platforms as part of every day learning including detailed lesson plans and easier communication between teachers, students and parents/carers.
- Schools and timetables should be more flexible about how students learn including shorter school days and longer breaks between classes to rest and refocus.
- Create a comfortable, safe and welcoming space for every single student.
Students are the biggest stakeholders in education and we need to be included in this decision.
This is our education for our future and we need stability.