Joy and smiles all round as South Melbourne Primary students head back to school

By Brendan Rees

From virtual high-fives to learning selfies, lockdown has proven no barrier for South Melbourne Primary School.

While the fifth lockdown announcement on July 15 was the news few families wanted to hear, the school was able to keep its spirits high after returning to remote learning.    

This was despite a COVID-19 scare that prompted a tier one exposure site alert for the school and its closure for two weeks. 

It’s understood an infected person attended the school on July 15 but no cases were reported among its staff or students.  

The exposure listing meant teachers, students and their families were cooped up in their homes to complete their 14-day quarantine while the state’s more than one million students returned to school after the lockdown. 

But when finally given the all-clear, big smiles and excitement echoed through the corridors of the school as it welcomed back its students on August 2.   

Parent Jessica Whitlock, who was among those to quarantine at home with her 10-year-old son Jack, told Southbank News the school had been “amazing” in its support, adding the principal had “updated us every single day of isolation with any information he can give”.  

“They go well above many other schools – we compare with friends who have kids at various other schools across the state and South Melbourne Primary School comes out on top every time,” she said. 

Ms Whitlock, who also juggled running her business from home while Jack undertook remote lessons in their lounge room, said she found “little to no disruption” to learning. 

But she said Jack was elated to see his grade 4 classmates and teacher face-to-face after he and his brother were unable to leave their Southbank high-rise apartment to spend time outside. 

While being apart from their friends was never easy, the school’s learning specialist Maddy Morrison said they were “incredibly proud” of how students had taken learning from home all in their stride. 

She said fun activities such as Olympic dress-up day and posting learning selfies on the school’s Facebook page kept students engaged while creating “a positive place to share what our classes are doing”. 

“Remote learning provides a deeper insight into the lives of our students. We’ve been able to meet their pets, check out their favourite toys and see many different costume dress-ups,” she said. 

“We pride ourselves on delivering a high-quality education. During remote learning, we’ve been able to continue this with live-streamed lessons and follow-up tasks for students to work on.” •

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