• Jack Ward

Remote learning short-lived

Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.


DINING tables were swamped by schoolbooks and laptops this week as families quickly reverted to a remote learning setting.


Students, parents and educators were prepared for the worst, but face-to-face teaching has returned today in regional Victoria after just four days online.

PHOTO: Eleanor, Hamish and Reuben Sladdin were well prepared for the fourth stint of remote learning. (Jack Ward/Ararat Advocate)

Claire and Jack Sladdin are both essential workers but have made the decision throughout the four lockdowns to keep their three children at home to alleviate health concerns.


Their eldest, Reuben, is in year 8 at Marian College, and Eleanor and Hamish are in grade five and grade one at St Mary’s.


“It has got easier as we've gone on and I feel like our response has been less nerve-wracking this time around,” Mrs Sladdin said.


She is the training and development manager at East Grampians Health Service.


“We kind of know what to do, whereas initially last year, we were really nervous and scared because (Hamish) couldn't read or write.”


Mr Sladdin is a disability support worker and has been able to coordinate his shift work around remote learning supervision responsibilities, tag-teaming with his Mum, Jenny.


He said this latest round of remote learning was a breeze, compared to the difficulties of supporting young Hamish who was still settling into prep when lockdown hit last year.


“He hadn't been at school for a very long time so it was extremely hard,” he said.


“I feel sorry for people who have kids in prep because it was tough, but not now.”


Mrs Sladdin said the difference with the two lockdowns this year has been the lack of warning.


“Last year we had such a long time to plan... whereas, with these snap ones we just don't have time for Jack to change his shifts, so that's when Jenny has come into play,” she said.


News of lockdown brought many senior students to tears last Friday, adding pressure to an already stressful year.


Ararat College school captain, Mia Wood, said her school’s year 11 and 12 cohorts spent recess last Thursday glued to a TV, watching the press conference live.


“Year 12 was going really well, I was staying on top of work and still having a social life - but going back into lockdown, the memories of last year have hit and it’s falling apart a little bit,” she said.


“I have had a couple of my friends ask if I’m okay because they know I struggled last year. We have been having some chats. It is a good thing that they care, and we are all looking out for each other.”


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