Pom in Oz column: Back to school response shows resolute community blossoming in adversity

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Back to school is back to normal for many West Australians.
Camera IconBack to school is back to normal for many West Australians. Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Going back to school in a “normal” year can present all sorts of last-minute issues, drama and excitement — you name the emotion, it’s happening.

But going back to school in 2021 was going to be a whole different ball game.

Sure, WA has missed the worse of COVID but we still feel the effects and, as recent events have proven, the news of infections can still send some of us into a panic.

Just when we thought the start to the WA teaching year was going to be plain sailing, the first community case in months popped up in our State’s capital.

What was “our” reaction?

Head to the local supermarket and empty the toilet roll shelves.

Thankfully, other than the initial bout of panic buying and with no new cases at this stage, the mad rush for loo paper has subsided.

But what about the return to school? Well in the Perth metro region, Peel and the South West, sadly that was delayed for a full week.

Not the end of the world, and I applaud the State pollies for making such a quick decision.

Isaac Nothdurf, 10, Ariel Nothdurft, 6, and Mason Kerswell, 7 on the first school day of 2021.
Camera IconIsaac Nothdurf, 10, Ariel Nothdurft, 6, and Mason Kerswell, 7 on the first school day of 2021. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

What about the rest of the State?

How did it affect the mood?

Did you see the same amount of “first-day” photos?

You know, the slightly awkward snap of the kids looking polished and keen before they head off to school — well, maybe the younger kids.

And the tired expressions of the senior kids as they are forced out of bed and away from the fun and games of the summer holidays?

Did it have an impact on attendance?

Change the mood of students, parents and teachers?

Well from my perspective as a teacher at Geraldton Christian College the answer is a very firm “no”.

My Facebook feed was still packed with cute pictures of proud parents and nervous kiddies.

My classrooms were full of keen-to-learn students, full of stories of exciting holidays and fun times on the beach.

Parents and teachers have been keen to get into the swing of things and are grateful for the work our Premier is doing.

Much to my surprise and relief, nothing much has changed.

Yes, we have a handful of people quarantining and isolating.

Yes, COVID is still a hot topic, but it has not dampened spirits for the new school year one bit.

No, we are not over this and no, we have not put COVID behind us, but we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

We are seeing a new normal emerging and, most importantly, we are still seeing the resolute nature of our WA population.

Long may it continue!

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