About this time, four years ago, our world was interrupted and ‘turned upside down’.

When we think of 2020, we tend to think first about all the negatives: the blindsiding appearance of the pandemic, the interrupted plans, the difficulties, the illness, the isolation. You could make a long list. However, lots of good things happened too.

How did we, as a College community, respond to this challenge?

Every staff member ‘pitched in’. Every student needed to be catered for. People needed to be cared for.

As the lockdowns were introduced, Northside, like every other school, had to very quickly adapt to online learning, managing reduced student numbers at the school while preparing for the many who were at home. Secondary students were already in possession of devices to access remote learning, but Junior School students needed to be provided with the resources they needed.

It was a massive task for the staff to allocate devices and prepare learning packs for each student. They then had to be distributed while following the guidelines for avoiding crowds on site. Staff had to quickly acquire skills to use new software, change their lessons and maintain an online presence. Staff were needed for the supervision of the essential workers’ children who attended a class on site. Parents needed support as they juggled their own work with the new role of learning supervision.

Given the age range of the students, teachers worked hard to make the learning as accessible as possible. For the young students, the content on slides was read aloud, parents and students could stop a recording and repeat when necessary. The work was modelled by a teacher. Times were provided for parents to ring when they needed to talk to a teacher. Having fun was not forgotten!

Lessons were needed for not only the academic subjects but also for the active subjects such as PE, Art and Music. Again, staff needed to develop teaching material and maintain an online presence.

A particular task in Secondary schooling was to support the Senior students as they looked towards their future and tertiary years.

Pastoral care took on a new aspect as challenges were experienced in the new way of learning. Across the world, social and emotional needs changed and there were many who regarded this new life with anxiety.

Despite the restrictions, such as the inability to gather together for large events, the photos that represent the year show there is much to celebrate.

When the students were allowed to return to school, activities expanded. The photos show just a little of what happened in that very different year.

As it was an even year, the Junior School should have had the community together for the biennial concert. What happened? There was a digital concert – and every member of the community was able to gather with their family to watch the recording.

The year brought challenges but God’s grace abounded.