Snowy Mountains Grammar School transitioned to its Virtual Campus on 16 August, as announced for all regional NSW schools.

Of the School’s swift pivot to its Virtual Campus, Principal Dr Andrew Bell said, “Well done and thank you to our school community for their patience and support as we head into Week 4 in the Virtual Campus. Thank you to all our staff, who have been committed to student care, wellbeing and learning through this transition to the Virtual Campus. Together as a school community, we will get through this, as we have before, and come out the other side stronger and ready for an exciting period ahead.”

Snowy Mountains Grammar School’s Virtual Campus is underpinned by five key considerations which have been carried forward from 2020:

  1. Quality teaching
  2. Strong support networks
  3. Rich connections
  4. Diverse options
  5. Balance.

For all year levels, opportunities for social interaction and connection within the Virtual Campus have been carefully considered. Adjustments have been made each week as students, parents and carers submit feedback. For example, in Week 3, two of the three Middle and Senior School tutor time sessions have been replaced with ‘Year Group Hang-Outs’, as requested by students, because they are understandably missing their classmates.

Routine, in combination with the five key considerations above, is paramount to the success of the SMGS Virtual Campus and further supports student wellbeing. Classes across the school begin at 8:45am every day, with weekly schedules sent to all students.

Many of the enrichment activities that were planned for Middle School and Senior School have been adapted to the virtual classroom. The Year 10 Careers Speaker Series has continued, along with a virtual workshop presented by ABC Heywire to the Environment Club. Middle School students energetically engaged in a virtual scavenger hunt.

Boarders have enjoyed the action-packed evening and weekend activities calendar which was highlighted by cooking classes and staying active on campus. Over the last few weeks, boarders have participated in dodgeball, a disco, yoga, skate-park fun, ‘chats and pats’ with staff dogs, pebble painting, origami, basketball and touch football tournaments, movie nights, morning runs along the lake, fitness sessions, car maintenance instruction sessions, ultimate frisbee, trivia and charades nights, and frisbee golf, to name a few.

In the Junior School, there is time at the beginning of each morning that includes a social catch-up. Morning Sit with Ali and all specialist classes have continued in our Virtual Campus. Wednesdays for many of the Junior School classes include explicit small-group learning in the morning, with the afternoons scheduled as Wellbeing Wednesdays, where students are encouraged to play outside and minimise time in front of the screen.

Reflecting on the first few weeks, Year 6 teacher, Julia Cane, said, “Year 6 have been working tremendously well and I think their time online last year has set them up really well for this year. We have continued with our learning programs. Our morning routine is the same as it would be in class. Our Science Week activities and our STEM Week activities have kept students engaged with their learning and proved to be quite a lot of fun. Keeping things fun but with a high level of expectation on quality work is what work the best.”

SMGS Head of STEM, Dr Adam Lloyd, echoed his colleague’s sentiment, saying, “I would certainly prefer to be working with students in the classroom, but having the ability to interact remotely has allowed us to stay on track. The senior students have examinations and, through the use of shared screens, uploaded images of work, shared documents, emails and breakout rooms, the collaborative approach to learning has been able to continue.”

In the closing weeks of term, SMGS will continue to refine the Virtual Campus to ensure all students have a positive and effective learning experience while working in the Virtual Campus.