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'I don't know how it can be fair.' Three students on how Year 12 has been upended by coronavirus.

For the class of 2020, this year was always going to be stressful and strenuous.

That’s expected. But this was not.

The global pandemic has caused extensive disruption to Year 12 students, who are now forced to learn from home for an indeterminate time.

They’ll graduate this year, the federal education minister has confirmed. And every student will get an ATAR, but exactly how it will work remains – like most things – uncertain.

Mamamia spoke to three Year 12 students about how their studies have been affected, and how they’re dealing with the unknown.

All of them agreed that their stress levels are high due to the uncertainty of what lies ahead in the next few months. But it’s not just the physical classrooms and their teachers they are missing, but – even more particularly – the social aspects that come with Year 12. Not for them, not this year, the last ever sport carnivals and glittering formals, the moments they’ve looked forward to for 12 years.

From regional to metropolitan areas, here’s what three Year 12 students are saying about completing the school year amid the strange era of COVID-19.

Emily, Turramurra

Year 12 coronavirus
Image: Supplied.

The changes to schooling came about suddenly. Even though we were aware of COVID-19, we weren’t aware of  how immediately we would begin online learning.

The uncertainty has created additional stress. We still do not know what 2020 will look like for HSC students. I understand that we will graduate with HSC credentials, but I do not know if we will have class time at school again, if I will sit my trials and if the HSC will be fair and consistent across the whole year group.

Learning from home was initially a struggle because it was so unexpected and different. I often rely on a one-on-one chat with my teacher and since the change, I have increasingly relied on textbooks for learning. Sometimes there is little or no time to discuss work tasks. This is in stark contrast to the classroom environment, which allowed us to discuss freely. I often lose concentration when working at home and can get easily distracted. With other family members also working, WiFi can cause a major issue.

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This can cause a disadvantage between schools which don’t have as many resources. We’re not as prepared for online learning against those who were.

There is also the burden of being unaware of how our trial and final exams will work and how student ATARs will be calculated... Will it be fair to all?

Thomas, Albury

year 12 coronavirus
Image: Supplied.

I’m a Year 12 student in regional Australia at a horsing school which was closed a week before the government advised students to stay at home.

The school disruption has been huge. Some of my music performances have been scrapped because of the outbreak and social distancing, and my Extension 2 English major work is up in the air. Many of us have never had to experience online learning before. We are used to class discussion and debate, and many of us learn through those types of forums. I think the hardest thing, however, has been trying to have those conversations with yourself without the guidance of your peers and teachers.

I struggle to see what I’m working towards. I aimlessly read through the syllabus and guide myself through school work at home, when I don’t really know what lies at the other end. We don’t know if it’s exams, or moderated assessments – we just don’t have the answers. Stress is high.

Generally, rural schools are always at a significant disadvantage overall. Reliable access to study resources such as the internet isn’t really available to everyone in regional NSW. We have kids at my school who travel over an hour every day from remote towns just to receive an education, and now they’re disadvantaged due to inequities beyond their own control.

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Coupled with this is the extended period of drought and the recent bushfire crisis, which has almost crippled a lot of rural NSW. Obviously these are factors beyond regional NSW’s control, but I think it’s definitely something that is unique to our situation compared to metropolitan Sydney schools. It is something that should really be considered going into the HSC.

Jess, Northern Beaches

Year 12 coronavirus
Image: Supplied.

The overall feeling is just as the rest of the nation: uncertainty.

For many of us, we don’t know when we are going to come back to school. So many things have been cancelled such as sport, carnivals, the Year 12 dinner, plays and performances – things we have watched the previous years get to do, that feels like a rite of passage.

It's frustrating and upsetting, but there is no one to blame.

Many of us have no idea what our assessments will be and what form they will take, especially for the trials and exams. For people like myself who do major works, we don’t know what’s going to happen given some students depend on equipment available at school.

My school has pushed the Easter holidays till May 11, and we now have two 13 week terms rather than 3 terms. This means it’s just continual work and a not a lot of preparation time for our trials, when we would normally have the winter holidays to prepare.

The online learning platform is manageable but it requires strong self discipline and motivation that I think many including myself are lacking or struggling in.

It’s just not what we expected nor wanted of our final year of school.

Feature Image: Supplied.


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