Carers can share the first day milestone with children

Parents of Kindergarten students will be able to share the first day milestone with their children, according to newly released Covid guidelines.

Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, said the main update to the guidelines that were released on January 18, was that parents and carers of children in Kindergarten, and Years 1, 2 and 7, would be able to enter school grounds on the first day to drop off their children in a Covid-safe way.

“The first day of school is an incredibly important day, especially for those children starting Kindergarten.

“I am so thrilled that despite the challenges of the pandemic, parents and carers will be able to take part in this milestone event in their child’s life in a Covid-safe way,” Mitchell said.

“The NSW Government has worked hard to get the balance right for day one of school to ensure that we provide a sense of normalcy whilst keeping people safe.

“Parents and carers attending on day one and beyond are urged to follow Covid-safe practices, which include physical distancing, hygiene practices and not to mingle in or outside the school.”

According to Central Coast Council of P&Cs President, Sharryn Brownlee, the decision has been welcomed by Central Coast parents, principals and teachers, who’d been eagerly awaiting news regarding first day arrangements.

“There was real concern about parents not being able to be a part of this important milestone, so this announcement has given a lot of people peace of mind.

“For Kindergarten families, this move is especially welcome, as the first day drop off is so important for both parent and child.

“For parents it’s a time for them to meet their child’s teacher and learn about the environment that they’re entrusting their child to.

“It’s the little things like learning where places like the office, canteen and library are, getting that lay of the land and a sense of what their child’s school life will be like that helps put parents at ease.

“Likewise, for Kindies, getting to share that experience with their parents helps them overcome any anxiety they might have about going into the classroom or meeting their teacher and classmates, because mum or dad are there to encourage them.

“It’s far better than simply walking them through the gate,” Brownlee said.

Brownlee said the same logic applied to Year 7 families, with the transition towards higher learning just as much a milestone to families as the first day of Kindergarten.

“Starting Year 7 is a huge step.

“Even the most diligent Year 6 student can feel daunted by things like changing your classroom and teacher every period and going from the top to the bottom of the pecking order, so having parents there for day one is a good way to establish a sense of connectivity between school and home, and just like with Kindergarten, parents want to see firsthand the school environment that they’re entrusting their child to.”

Day one visits are also a great way for parents to build relationships with teachers, a practice Brownlee said had been constrained last year.

“What I’m hearing from principals is that the parent teacher relationship has never been more important.

“Last year’s remote learning really exposed that, and this year will hopefully allow for those relationships to be rebuilt and strengthened.”

With families getting ready for the start of a new school year, Brownlee said schools were now eagerly awaiting advice on other communal events.

“There’s a real sense of hope surrounding the return of events and occasions now.

“Harmony Day, Easter, school sport; there’s so much coming up in Term 1 that parents are hoping they’ll be able to be involved in, and for a child, there really is nothing like having a family member come and attend these special events.”

Schools will provide relevant information to families about the processes for their school prior to the first day.

Parents, staff and students are not required to wear face masks at school, but in line with Public Health Orders, masks must be worn by those aged 12 years and over on any public transport.

Similarly, students aged 12 and over must comply with the Public Health Orders around masks at all other relevant locations within the community and during external school activities.

Parents are asked to avoid coming on to school grounds unless the visit complies with the current school guidelines, such as volunteering at the school canteen or visiting the uniform shop.

Schools can still plan for sporting carnivals, excursions and overnight camps, and special events such as concerts, with a COVID Safety Plan in place.

Dilon Luke