Goodbye Zoom, hello classroom

First-day smiles reveal students’ joy at the return to full-time schooling.

Image: A friendly welcome back from staff at Corrimal Public School.

Balloons, happy socks and even a red carpet – these were just some of the ways NSW public schools celebrated the return of hundreds of thousands of students to their classrooms this week.

More than two months after parents were encouraged to keep students home to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers across the state were excited to welcome them back on Monday, with some even dressing up in costumes to mark the occasion.

In the Illawarra, a red carpet greeted students returning to Corrimal Public School, while a giant balloon arch and staff wearing specially made T-shirts greeted students at the entrance to Windang Public School.

"It has been seven long weeks of remote learning for our students,” Windang Public School principal Loreta Kocovska told the Illawarra Mercury.

”Today, we were absolutely delighted to welcome back our incredible students to full-time face-to-face learning.

"The staff organised a massive balloon arch in our school colours and all staff wore a specially made shirt with the quote: ‘I will teach you in a room, I will teach you now on Zoom, I will teach you in a house, I will teach you with my mouse, I will teach you here or there, I will teach because I care’,” she said.

At Megalong Public School in the Blue Mountains, teachers eagerly took the students on a nature quest, sharing stories, descriptive poetry and using the bush eucalypt setting as inspiration for writing.

“Students are really enjoying spending class time outside in the fresh air, and the chance to learn in an outdoor classroom enriches their day,” Megalong Public School principal Stephanie Scott said.

“What an exciting start, getting back to quality teaching and learning.”

Image: An outdoor classroom and nature walk for Megalong Public School students.

Also in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba High School welcomed back students and staff with a smoking ceremony to cleanse the past and welcome the present and the future.

Across Sydney, schools marked the occasion in various ways.

Bubbles and happy tunes awaited students at Balgowlah North Public School, whose Year 6 students were also there to greet their younger buddies in Kindergarten and Year 1.

Meanwhile, balloons and bubbles brought a smile to the faces of students returning to Elderslie Public School, where kindergarten students were bursting with excitement.

Smithfield Public School’s Kindergarten students and teachers also had a great first day back. They made the most of the kite-flying weather by testing out their handmade kites.

Other schools asked their students to return to school wearing happy socks as an indication of just how happy they were to have them back in their classrooms.

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