Keeping up with COVID-19: Surviving a school shutdown

teacher stands at whiteboard teaching class

Since the pandemic began, school communities have faced a number of unexpected challenges. They've also played an important role in keeping these communities safe, particularly through school shutdowns.

As we've learnt to live with COVID-19 in various ways, school shutdowns are less likely to happen. However, while the virus still remains part of our daily lives, the stop-start nature of schooling isn't off the table just yet.

But as we’ve also learnt from the past couple of years, with solid planning, patience and resilience, school communities can survive any curveball that’s thrown at them by working together.

Communication is key

School closures typically lead to questions as parents, students and teachers aim to stay across the latest information. Prioritising clear lines of communication is the first step in minimising confusion.

Update socials: Use school social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – to convey information to parents and students.

Organise digital catchups: Consider using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp to increase feelings of community. Parents may find it helpful to talk with other parents in the same situation, and teachers should hold digital staff meetings to ensure there is consensus on procedures and protocols so that the school community stays connected and reliably informed from the top down.

Learn more about COVID-19 and the whole school community.

Get busy making plans

As COVID-19 can still impact onsite learning, it's likely that your school community has plans in place to stay ahead of disruptions. However, should your school be temporarily closed again, it's worth keeping in mind these key tips to help everyone involved feel a sense of control.

Create a learning-from-home routine: Having a ready-to-go routine will ensure a smooth transition if students are sent home. Share your plan with students and parents ahead of time so they’re familiar with the steps and expectations when online learning commences.

Spice up the schedule: Students who are sent home may feel frustrated and lack motivation. Keep things interesting by adding a little spice to each school day.

Whether it’s having lunch together as a class, or hosting an impromptu fancy-dress day, in stressful times a little change can lighten the mood. This is also an opportunity to get students talking about how they’re feeling outside of the confines of a classroom.

Learn more about life and learning after COVID-19 and connecting with students in the online classroom.

Ban the business-as-usual approach

Schools all around Australia have had to manage the challenges of living with COVID-19. Simply by acknowledging this, we're more likely to respond in a way that benefits the whole school's wellbeing.

Don’t let self-care slip: For many parents and students, school shutdowns have felt like one step forward, two steps back, and it can be hard to muster the motivation to stay upbeat. Learn more about teacher wellbeing in a changing environment.

Provide resources: If you haven't already, consider creating a one-page ‘Self-care COVID-19’ response document that can be circulated among staff, students and parents regarding school closures. The document can point people in the direction of resources, as well as suggest tips and strategies to ensure they remain positive during any potential interruptions.

What can I do now?

  • Read more about teacher wellbeing.

  • Brush up on the importance of self-care and get some practical tips.