Orientation for 2021 kindergarten kids goes online due to pandemic

EDUCATION: Students at Binda Public School recording a virtual message for kids beginning kindergarten in 2021. Photo supplied
EDUCATION: Students at Binda Public School recording a virtual message for kids beginning kindergarten in 2021. Photo supplied

NSW public schools are preparing for children beginning school in 2021 with virtual tours, online presentations, and showbags replacing the usual school-based activities and orientation days.

Before COVID-19, pre-schoolers were introduced to Upper Lachlan Shire public schools during term three or four. However, the pandemic stopped programs being held in the classroom and on the playground.

Next year's cohort of kindergarten students and their parents will have a virtual introduction to school at Gunning, Binda and Crookwell public schools.

Play-based and learning activities will be sent home with new starters to complete, along with recordings of teachers, and schoolmates.

At Binda Public School, students starting in 2021 will receive a school library bag, with online information and activities, and take a virtual tour with current students.

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"During term four, there will be a new activity for each week, which is recorded on a USB or done live via Zoom. It will be like the school of the air," a spokesperson for the Department of Education (DPE) said.

Gunning Public School principal Kristy Grant said restrictions to school visitors had made teachers think outside the box, and using technology teachers can offer students more support.

Orientation days are usually held over six sessions during term four. But, this year, using a QR code students and parents will virtually tour the classroom and school. As well, students acting as buddies recorded messages for kindergarten kids, and zoom meetings were set up between the parents and citizens (P&C) association and parents.

Crookwell Public School principal, Michael Whittington, said, "the parents have been amazing and they all understand the current restrictions and have reacted positively to the new creative ideas for kindergarten transition."

Before COVID-19, pre-schoolers engaged in play-based activities at the school during term three and four. In 2021, showbags will include a virtual tour of the school and a recording of teachers reading from picture books, via USB.

"The books will be included in the pack and will enable the pre-schoolers to flick through the books as they're hearing and watching them being read. There will also be activities linked to each book."

A spokesperson for the DPE said, NSW public schools have dealt with the disruptions of 2020, making adjustments to the curriculum to minimise the impacts on children's education. Next year, schools will continue to use the tools made available during the pandemic, like the online platform, to assess progress and monitor learning.

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