Since Armidale stay-at-home orders began on August 7 (and across the region from August 14), many of the region's school students have been remote learning from home.
Schools have been using various devices to keep students engaged and active, while many parents struggle to supervise studies and work from home simultaneously.
And (after initial confusion about who had to stay at home and who didn't) most schools were well prepared, having gone through the process last year.
O'Connor Catholic College principal Regina Menz said because her school had done it before and worked out what worked and what didn't, everyone just 'jumped to their stations and got on with things'.
"It worked really well, " Mrs Menz said.
"Our school has been well equipped with online platforms as part of the way we deliver education, so the transition to connected learning was relatively smooth. This time around, everyone knew what to do, what was required, and all had their individual role in the online learning process, so it wasn't as challenging as Lockdown 2020."
Everyday 'anchor' O'Connor students are given a daily challenge which is promoted on social media to help keep the students connected. In addition, learning packs are provided for those families without reliable internet.
Years 7 to 9 are given asynchronous timetables, while students in years 10 to 12 are given synchronous timetables with break times allocated for exercise and helping out at home.
At The Armidale School (TAS), a diverse range of online clubs, a physical exercise challenge, inter-school virtual debating, and daily well-being sessions are some programs keeping students and staff connected beyond their lessons.
Principal Dr Rachel Horton said it reflected a commitment by everyone in the school community to make the most of the current situation.
"We know that lockdown has its challenges, and it isn't a perfect environment, but it is critical that everyone can come together in meaningful ways to connect by being creative and reimagining the opportunities that are usually available at school," Dr Horton said.
"The ways our staff have committed to the wellbeing and growth of students above and beyond what they teach in the classroom, says much about what our community values about TAS."
Book Week was celebrated in its usual colourful fashion for boys and girls in TAS Junior School, with home dress-ups raided to bring characters to life in an online parade.
In TAS Middle and Senior School, academic timetables have been adjusted and class periods shortened to give students a break between Zoom lessons.
Daily 20 minute sessions between students and their wellbeing advisors have adapted to remote learning in fun and creative ways, with themes such as 'bring a pet day' boosting a sense of connectedness.
The Armidale Waldorf School sends home work-packs weekly, and work is returned to teachers via email or contactless delivery.
Every day, there are online classes focusing on literacy, numeracy, cooking, gardening, music, and craft, and specialist classes like French and IT are scheduled once a week.
"On top of this, we have instrument lessons for violin, cello, brass, and woodwind, " said education director Zana Clarke.
"And we have additional learning support for students who need some extra encouragement."
Ms Clarke said lockdowns are tough on families, but the school's students showed 'amazing' resilience.
"This shines through in their happy smiles, beautiful bookwork, craft, and the enthusiasm they share with their teachers online every single day," she said.
"Everyone seems to be engaged and enjoying the rich content our teachers have developed for their individual classes. Students have shared some beautiful work, and we are so proud of everyone's efforts."
St Mary's Primary School in Armidale has also been Zooming with students on a daily basis.
"We have done wellbeing challenges every day - nature mandalas, crazy hair, recreating artwork as well as other challenges related to Book Week and Science Week," said principal Alanna McRae.
If stay-at-home orders are lifted in our region before October 25, all students will return to face-to-face learning; otherwise, there will be a staggered return to school.
From October 25, kindergarten and year 1 students will return to school, followed by years 2, 6, and 11 from November 1; and years 3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10 from November 8.
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