Schools must ensure that technology and online learning is used to the greatest advantage to facilitate the education of all students.
That was the clear message from Boberbue Comprehensive principal Vera Leader, who said that following the closure of schools focus must now turn to supporting students to continue their studies at home.
"While expected, the decision to close schools occurred quicker than we thought and the most pressing task now is to provide a service to everyone so that no student loses out," said Mrs Leader.
"Technology provides opportunities for students to consolidate what they have already learnt in the classroom, deepen their learning in subject areas and engage in research. We are fortunate that students can access online learning, digital technologies and distance learning and we must see this engagement with learning facilitated by technology as a further learning opportunity for our students."
She said that students must also play their part during these unprecedented times by developing their personal skills such as patience, self-discipline, time management and, perhaps most importantly of all, taking responsibility for their own learning.
"This whole process will take time and it is worth remembering that students are not completely dependent on technology. They have text books, notes and resources. Yes, they will miss the classroom interaction but teachers will do the best job possible to meet their needs," she said.
Mrs Leader said that her students were already communicating with their teachers through Google Classroom and urged anyone who may have difficulty accessing material to let the school know as soon as possible on order to address and resolve any problems.
She recognised there was an added burden on parents to make sure students do not get not distracted while working online.
"In addition, for students with special needs and who really benefit from hands on learning, distance learning presents its own difficulties. For exam students the uncertainty is very challenging. The State Exams Commission has pressed the pause button and no one knows what happens next, until this virus peaks and we have it under some control."
With all this in mind, Mrs Leader said it was vitally important that students "maintain a structure to their day, stay focused and keep working."
"No one has all the answers; our reliance on digital technologies for the next few weeks is a necessity. Teachers, parents and students will have to work together to ensure the success of distance learning. It will take time and trust. It will not be perfect all of the time. Some students don't have the same access to technology or internet access as others but they can still communicate with the school," she said.
"COVID-19 has presented the globe with extraordinary challenges. There is a sense that we need to get on with it, 'put the shoulder to the wheel', while continuing to follow the rules of social distancing, hand-washing and so on," she concluded.