How Margaret Jurd responded to COVID

How Margaret Jurd responded to COVID

On Thursday 5 August we were advised that Newcastle and the Hunter would be placed into a one-week lockdown. Staff started busily preparing resources for students to take home following the lockdown announcement.

A timetable for online learning was developed which included targeted Key Learning Area (KLA) meetings, roll calls and check ins/outs. There was also time allocated for students to log in to a group check in with their teachers should they have any questions regarding any of their schoolwork. The College was able to make this possible through the use of numerous online resources including Zoom, Mathspace, MyEdOnline, and Microsoft office suite. The College’s casework team kept in contact with their students and their families via regular phone calls.

As well as teaching online staff have delivered Isolation packs to students, being sure to adhere to COVID safety guidelines. This was a way to not only provide students with their required schoolwork, but they were also given supermarket gift vouchers and activities including colouring in material, skipping ropes and hand balls, these packs were individualised to each student with input from the student’s caseworker. The delivery of these products allowed the staff at the College a way to reach out to their students to identify how they were coping as well as check if additional supports were needed.

The college continues to try and be innovative in our approach to online learning and as expected while some of the students have embraced the online platform, others still prefer face to face teaching, to this end and as the lockdown has continued a couple of staff members have been experimenting with kerbside learning. This involves the student’s caseworker and a teacher visiting the student’s home and setting up an outdoor socially distanced workspace and assisting the student with their work in this manner.

At this stage whilst the staff involved work out logistics and undertake risk assessments on a case-by-case basis this program remains experimental however there is a possibility that this is to become a long-term project for Margaret Jurd College as it allows us to further shape a learning program that caters to our students who have a range of mental health challenges, meaning that sometimes they cannot attend school. Once we have perfected the model there is potential for us to use what we have learnt in this area and to role this approach out to other schools.

Adrienne Robertson

Margaret Jurd College

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