Parents face the decision of sending their children to school or keeping them at home to learn as NSW schools adopt a blended learning approach in response to the spread of coronavirus.
Public schools across the Hastings are remaining open under advice from the Department of Education and will begin using a combination of print resources and online tools to maintain education standards.
Parents are being encouraged to keep their children at home to undertake online learning if they are able. Although all schools in NSW will provide online learning options for the remaining three weeks of term one.
Heritage Christian School principal Geoff Brisby said independent schools are working within government guidelines to deliver online learning.
"We will be providing remote support in a combination of online delivery and hard copy provided to families. That will be run at school and at home," he said.
"As a school we are not going to put a program in place that is totally reliant on online delivery. It will be a mixture of traditional hard copy and supplemented by electronic lessons.
We are committing ourselves fully to an education delivery system that's sustainable in the long term if that's what needed..Geoff Brisby
"While we hadn't anticipated all of this, all schools have certainly known in the last couple of weeks that we need to get an alternative delivery method ready.
"We are putting everything in place in a way so that if we need to extend the time frames we can do that. We are committing ourselves fully to an education delivery system that's sustainable in the long term if that's what needed.
"Schools have been wrestling with this over the last week because there was always a possibility of schools closing. The reality is that even the capacity of online systems or National Broadband Network to delivery all of this has not been tested in this way before.
"Parents need to understand that they are responsible for educating their child at home with the school they are a part of. This disruption is not an extension of holidays or anything else."
A Department of Education spokesman said schools will remain open based on health advice which has not changed.
"No child will be turned away from school. From today (March 24) in NSW, for practical reasons, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home," he said.
"School teams have been working hard to develop learning options for students to undertake from home.
"In the event that students or teachers are required to be off-campus, teachers will be supported to teach online through a virtual platform and packages of materials will be provided to students.
"The new arrangements will be an adjustment for parents. The NSW Department of Education will ensure parents are supported in their choice to keep their children at home.
"We know these are important years in our students' education and we will ensure that any disruption to learning caused by the COVID-19 virus does not impact the end of school outcomes for our students."
Mr Brisby said all schools are in the same circumstances at the moment in terms of delivering online teaching.
"Obviously this is not the best way to do school. That's what bothers us the most, because anything other than that approach is not optimal delivery," he said.
"This is second best and with that will come consequences eventually. No school is going to be able to do this as well as they can with traditional classroom teaching.
This is a pretty scary place for the entire community to be and schools are no exception to that.Geoff Brisby
"There are going to be some kids whose learning will suffer in this process. To what extent and which kids, we just don't know because this is uncharted territory.
"We're still waiting on and anticipating a lot more information regarding HSC delivery. Those courses require certain components that are on a face-to-face basis and some of them involve workplace placements.
"This is a pretty scary place for the entire community to be and schools are no exception to that."
Director of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Lismore, Dr Sally Towns said parents can make the choice regarding children's attendance at school for the remainder of term one.
"Our schools are open for parents who wish and need to have their children attend and receive their learning at school," Dr Towns said in a public statement on March 23.
"The blended learning approach of online delivery will support your decision. Students at home will have the same access to their learning as students who attend school.
"Students at school will complete the same digital and non-digital learning tasks under the supervision of a staff member.
"Our teachers are well prepared for this transition to a blended learning delivery where your child's learning experience is not necessarily located at school.
"Schools are working to provide parents and children with a combination of digital and non-digital learning options.
"Over the coming days and weeks, your school will continue to provide you with information on how the blended learning approach will work for your child and their class. We appreciate your patience while teachers find a rhythm and process that works best for your child."
For further health advice, visit the NSW Health website.
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