‘They’ve all turned up really early’: Half a million students return to class

Cammeraygal High School’s students say they’ll miss the 9am sleep-ins they got to enjoy over the last four months of remote learning, as well as regular exercise breaks during recess and lunch.

Still, they chose to brave the early morning start and arrive at their Crows Nest campus more than half an hour before the bell on Monday, stoked to see their friends and have real-life classroom discussions after finally being freed from Zoom fatigue.

Half a million students have returned to school as full-time face-to-face learning resumed across the state for the first time since June, although 16 schools were closed due to positive COVID-19 cases.

School’s back: students arrived early at Cammeryagal High School to see their friends.Credit:James Alcock

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the government was continuing its work with NSW Health around isolation requirements for children “so that we’re not having an unfair impact on families, particularly parents who are vaccinated”.

“That advice will come through the school,” she said. “There are, yes, 16 schools that have been impacted – but that means over 2180 schools are in operation today. It’s all about making sure we have as many students back on every day, as much as possible. That really has to be the focus moving forward.”

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The NSW Education Standards Authority, which runs the HSC, will also extend its special consideration program to any student whose learning was significantly compromised for six weeks or more due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In Sydney’s 12 former local government areas of concern, principals can apply on behalf of their entire year 12 cohort.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said 2021 “will go down in history as one of the more challenging HSC years” but student excitement and positivity was palpable on Monday, two weeks out from the final exams.

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