How this Dalby school has created a ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19
FOR Dalby State School principal Mona Anau, walking into the schoolgrounds on Monday for the all the students’ first day back at school and just hearing the sound of children laughing and talking was an overwhelming relief.
It was the sign of a positive step forwards towards achieving normality again.
Last Monday marked the first day students from all grades were permitted to return to the schoolyard.
“It was good to getting back to some normality and getting back on track, and having students back in classrooms,” Ms Anau said.
“It was a wonderful feeling.
“It just felt that we were back to normality.
“It was like the first day of school again, that excitement.”
However, not everything can resume as it was pre-COVID.
Staggered break times and social distancing in classrooms have become commonplace at the school, with students safety prioritised first.
Staff and students have had to create a “new normal” for themselves, but Ms Anau said this had been a positive experience so far.
The “new normal”, she said, was one where students had greater respect for their peers and teachers, and initiated a new kind of independence for the students.
“What I’ve seen, the kids have really lifted their expectations around connecting with their peers,” Ms Anau said.
“It’s really important now.
“There seems to be a really high level of respect around how they treat each other and how they communicate with each other.
“There seems to be a bit more transparency around the good mornings, and thank you’s, and goodbyes.”
The principal said the time away had given her a greater appreciation for her students, and despite the distance, had allowed to forge a stronger connection with them.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to know all my children,” she said.
“But now I’ve had that gap, I’ve had to park office work and be out and about and meet every child as they walk through the gate.
“It’s been a wonderful feeling.”
With rules surrounding social distancing still in place at the school, the number of parents in the school grounds has been lessened, allowing the older students to step up, in lieu of their parents, to support the younger school students, particularly within families.
“The oldest child is walking the youngest child to the classrooms,” Ms Anau said.
“There’s that real independence that’s come out of this.
“I have prep students who walk through the gate and I say ‘good morning’ and ‘would you like me to walk you to your classroom’.
“They‘re quick to say ‘no thank you Ms Anau, I can do that on my own’.
“It’s been really impressive … it’s made our students step into another level of being responsible, and being respectful.”
Moving forward, Ms Anau hopes to continue to foster this “new normal” and focus on the students and their work for the remainder of this year.