Instead of being herded into a classroom on Thursday morning as the school bell rang, some WA students stayed at home and logged in online to their new-look virtual lessons.
Although WA schools still remain open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 30 per cent of WA students are staying home, and at least one private school has started trialling virtual classrooms.
John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School began testing online schooling for its Year 10 students on Thursday in "preparation for the possibility of school closures".
Parents and guardians of JSRAC Year 10 students were told on Monday in a letter that the school was trialling its online learning and teaching capabilities to inform the Anglican Schools Commission’s response to any potential government decision to close schools for an extended period of time due to coronavirus.
In the letter, Principal Jason Bartell said Year 10s would be encouraged to stay home and engage with their teachers via the online program.
"Students whose parents do not approve of their children staying at home for the day, will still access the teaching and learning program remotely," the letter read.
"A classroom will be set up for this purpose, with students being taught their individual lessons through their devices."
Mother-of-two Klaire Hughes said while that she "absolutely" didn’t think schools should close just yet, she welcomed the trial, which her son Scott, 15, was taking from home.
However as a stay-at-home mum, Ms Hughes acknowledged a blanket school closure across the state wasn’t ideal for many families.
"The school has told us that it’s a normal school day with a normal school timetable, so it’s all being done by webcam. We did have to buy him a webcam," she said.
"All the kids have a laptop or an iPad so they are able to login to have wifi access and things like that.
"For our school it hasn’t been a big issue, I think it will be a big issue for a lot of government schools where parents can’t afford those things, but there’s ways around it."
In Ms Hughes' home country South Africa, all schools have been closed but sent resources home with students.
"So there are ways around it," she said. "But I think it will be a very big task.
"Obviously we’re all hoping this [coronavirus] isn’t a long-term thing, eventually our kids will be able to go back into the classroom and then they’ll be able to catch up on all the practical stuff, but until then it’s just going to be theory I’m guessing."
Parents are hearing from the government that keeping their children home is "harming" the community, but from doctors that sending them to school is harmful.
The private school’s trial comes as WA Education Minister Sue Ellery told ABC Radio on Thursday parents who chose to keep their children home from government schools would be regarded as not approved and "making it harder for us all as a community".
According to the ASC website, all its schools were following the advice and direction of government, therefore there were some changes to how they were operating, including increased hygiene habits, a no touching policy, social distancing, staggered recess and lunch breaks, and the suspension of assemblies, gatherings and excursions.
"While there are no current plans for school closures, each school is making arrangements for the continuation of learning for our students, should we receive a directive to close," it read.
"We continue to do our best to support our students, staff and families during these uncertain times."
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