My focus during the many weeks of home schooling was to leave my son with memories. That while home schooling was weird and unusual, that he felt safe and supported. That his memories of these tumultuous times were as positive as we could make them.
On the 26 February 2020 our school newsletter detailed an initiative kicked off in the UK “let’s bear it together.” Overnight across our neighbourhood, bears were placed in windows, trees, and gardens. Walks around the streets became a bear hunt as we reflected on how lucky we were by comparison to overseas.
Term two started on 15 April 2020, a week later than usual. So began our introduction to remote learning. What a shemozzle. Trying to work full time at home, manage significant increase in meetings, learning requirements and how to use google classrooms. In addition was the fear, the unknown and trying to grapple with a world upturned by COVID-19.
After a week we found our daily rhythm and pattern. We settled into this novel and interesting way to attend school from home. We turned our neighbourhood into learning opportunities – practiced the times table as we went for a walk and spelling items we observed while out and about.
On 9 June 2020 we saw a return to the classroom for our Victorian children for two short and precious weeks. We even managed a week of school holidays in July at Philip Island. Not quite the tropical island winter holiday we might have planned, but still we were away from the issues that Melbourne was experiencing and a sense of impending doom.
July saw hundreds of cases in Melbourne and with that the resumption of remote learning. The commencement of Term 3 was from home. The teachers had learned from the earlier shemozzle and this term was amazing. Small learning groups that were set up, attention to detail in the learning programs and follow up made remote learning a more supportive, focused and smooth process.
The teachers did an incredible job to educate each day while being present in many homes in Victoria. I am not sure we appreciated them at the time for the incredible professionalism they displayed every day.
As time went on wellness became an important focus for parents, children, and teachers as the community dealt with one of the harshest lockdowns in the world. As one person in their 50’s put it “it has been a long time since I had a curfew of 8pm!”
October to December was a time when spring arrived and so did hope. Like a delicate butterfly coming out of the safety of its chrysalis, so too Victorians emerged from their homes, ventured beyond 5km, were permitted to meet in groups in outdoor settings, and plan community events.
What did I learn? The human spirit is amazing – we adapted, we had our ups and downs but we survived. There were incredible acts of kindness from neighbours and friends near and far, right down to sharing homemade jams. My son amazed me with his resilience and I got to know my work colleagues better. WebEx gave people faces and personalities that would have remained anonymous.
This year, we grateful for what we have, engaged in ensuring we keep in place important initiatives to keep ourselves safe and proud of what we achieved collectively. There has been great pain and suffering and this will emerge over time as we all continue on our journey living with COVID-19 as part of our lives.
Caregivers of COVID
The Caregivers of COVID series shares the stories and experiences at St John of God Health Care that made most of 2020 so extraordinary.