Victoria closures have heightened concerns for student welfare

At one point, over 80% of high schools were “very concerned or concerned” about student mental health and well-being, while nearly 70% of high schools were concerned about academic progress.

Jo Camozzato, principal of Edgars Creek Secondary College, said there was no doubt that this year’s extended lockdown affected students ‘mental health and their enthusiasm for school, despite teachers’ best efforts.

“The staff provided thoughtful and engaging e-learning activities that children could do at home. But there was definitely a level of fatigue among all the students, and they weren’t accepting it like they did last year, ”Ms. Camozzato said.

“People’s enthusiasm was not as high and there was a level of online fatigue for learning and online fatigue for teachers when teaching. “

Some students continued to produce good work, but others were increasingly disengaged. Distance learning has also made it more difficult for teachers to monitor student well-being.

“We communicated online but… the student can actually choose not to stay in touch,” Ms. Camozzato said. ” It’s delicate. While at school you can still see them and get a feel for their well-being during the day.

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In the most serious cases, school counselors have been forced to enlist outside support to help some children, she said.

The survey of 783 schools was “just a measure to monitor principals throughout periods of distance learning and help us develop tailor-made support materials for schools across the country.” State, ”said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education.

The spokesperson said the government had made “unprecedented investments in mental health, wellness and academic support throughout the pandemic, with a trained mental health practitioner now in every government high school and every specialty school in Victoria, and over 6,400 tutors working in schools across the state to help students achieve academic success.

Kristen Douglas, director of schools at Headspace mental health, said efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 “have hit young people the most.”

The peaks in demand for Headspace services coincided with the prolongation of the lockdowns, said Ms Douglas, and “in Victoria this peak occurred in August”.

“With most of the mental health system overwhelmed, including hospitals and community mental health services, and many private practices operating at full capacity, young people find themselves with limited support options,” she said. declared.

More than half of elementary school principals surveyed reported concerns about the mental health of students in the third term, according to the document.

Andrew Dalgleish, president of the Victorian Principals Association, said the results “pretty much resonate with what my members were telling me verbally about anxieties (for schools during closings)”.

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Teachers found it more difficult to keep children engaged, Mr Dalgleish said, with more reports of children not participating in online sessions or not coming as often as they should.

The survey shows that the proportion of schools concerned with the health and well-being of staff also increased in the third quarter.

“School staff are exhausted,” said Meredith Peace, president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union.

The past two years have taken their toll on principals, teachers and school staff, she said, with the cumulative build-up of increased workloads, the stress of supporting students, families and students. others, as well as underlying concerns about community transmission.

As the school year enters its final days, the mood has improved noticeably now that students are back on campus, principals reported.

“With the return of the children, the energy of the school has just been transformed,” said Mr. Anestis.

“We have had children who arrived at days and times when they didn’t necessarily need to be here, [because] they were thirsty for a real reconnection.

Lifeline 13 11 14 Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 Kids Helpline 1800 551 800 Headspace 1800 650 890

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