Gippsland Grammar newsletter: May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020 | Principal's News

Gippsland Grammar was abuzz with excitement on Tuesday as students began a staggered returned to the School’s three campuses. The return followed this week’s easing of the COVID-19 restrictions that saw Victorian schools move to remote learning more than two months ago.

Gippsland Grammar transitioned to its Learn@Home program in the final week of Term 1 to maintain the health and safety of its Community. On Tuesday morning, Early Learning Centre students as well as Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 students returned to Gippsland Grammar’s Bairnsdale and Sale Campuses, while Year 11 and 12, VCE and VCAL students returned to the Garnsey Campus, also located in Sale. Students from all other year levels will return to on-campus learning on June 9.

While teachers and staff maintained social distance at the gates of all three campuses, there was no restrictions on smiles and the biggest smile of all was reserved for Principal Leisa Harper who began her tenure at the School at the beginning of the social distancing restrictions and had not yet met the students face-to-face.

“Not unlike a child waiting for their birthday morning to arrive, I was quick to wake and get ready for the return of our students on Tuesday,” Mrs Harper said. “And I was not disappointed; it was a wonderful day seeing some of our students return. And perhaps a few parents were also excited about the prospect of their children returning to school as well!”

At Gippsland Grammar’s Bairnsdale Campus, there was no such ‘social distancing’ required for Wilson, the Campus’s therapy or comfort dog. Wilson was on hand to welcome the students and help relieve their stress and anxiety.

“You cannot underestimate the emotions of our young people and how they are feeling as they return to school after learning from home for such a length of time,” Head of Bairnsdale Campus Virginia Evans said.

“With the return to school, we are doing everything to provide a safe and happy environment for our students and we want our families to feel a great sense of belonging and familiarity as they arrive.

“Wilson is an integral part of our community and provides not only comfort, but enjoyment … the children absolutely love him.”

Wilson is a 15-month-old Golden Retriever owned by Gippsland Grammar Bairnsdale Campus Foundation teacher Libby Crowe. He first visited the School as a three-month-old puppy when Foundation students began learning the ‘Word of the Week’ which happened to be ‘dog’. He then went on to star in the Campus production Wizard of Oz as Toto.

Wilson was such a hit with all the students and staff he began visiting casually on Wednesdays, which came to be known by the Bairnsdale students as ‘Wilson Wednesday’.

Early in the dog’s training it was identified that his temperament was suited to being a therapy dog.

School therapy dogs provide comfort and support to children and teachers; proving to lower anxiety, increasing empathy and the incidence of bullying. While Wilson’s training is a bit behind schedule because of COVID-19 he still managed to be part of the student’s learning during Learn@Home. Each day from her lounge room, Mrs Crowe, together with Wilson, connected with students ‘Zooming in’ to share a book during story-time.

Students from Years 3-10 will return to on-site learning from Tuesday June 9.

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