"Lockdown," "work from home" and "home learning" were phrases many of us hoped would stay in 2020.
But with the arrival of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in Australia the Illawarra has once again become intimately familiar with the idea that your house is not just your home, but entertainment arena, workspace and - for the kids at least - school.
While it wasn't the result any of us were hoping for, Mount Ousley Public School has made the transition to remote learning "seamlessly," principal Emily Jones says.
"We're really lucky, because as a one-to-one device school all of our students have access to technology at home and in the classroom," she said.
"We also have very dedicated teachers and staff, as well as immensely supportive parents."
The switch to working remotely has been jarring for many of us who were accustomed to seeing our workmates or clients in person.
Mastering Zoom and shared Google docs was a significant learning curve for many at the start of the pandemic.
For students at Mount Ousley Public, however, they're immersed in learning technology from day one, remote or not.
"We do a lot of explicit teaching on how to use platforms like Google Classroom and Seesaw when they first start school, and as they continue their knowledge and expertise continues to grow," Ms Jones said.
"It's more often the parents who find it a struggle to know what the students are doing, but the students are very familiar with what they need to do."
Remote learning can't replace the connections fostered in a face-to-face environment, but teachers make an effort to ensure students still get the chance to connect with their friends.
The flow of each student's day will differ depending on their family's schedule - for instance, children of shift workers might do more lessons later in the day - but they will still complete the same activities as their classmates.
At 9.30am students log in to a half-hour Zoom meeting with their class and teacher, where they get to say good morning and share things about their day.
"Knowing your friends are ok because you can see them has really helped our students," Ms Jones said.
Teachers talk the class through their lessons for the day, which include must-do learning activities, a fitness activity and a mindfulness activity.
Students are able to pace themselves through the day, and ask their teacher for feedback when they need it.
"Our students are very good at self-regulating, so they choose which activities they will do first, second and third," Ms Jones said.
"When they complete their must-do activities and submit those online, teachers provide real-time feedback.
"We have an amazing group of dedicated teachers who are constantly available."
She said parents worried about whether their child was doing "enough" might be surprised.
"The recommendation is students do two and a half to three hours of remote learning a day, depending on their age," she said.
"That can be done at whatever pace and time best suits their family."
To help students get some off-screen learning time the school also sent home learning packs that contained resources like readers, dice, mini whiteboards and whiteboard markers.
It's only once kids feel comfortable and safe that they can engage in learning- Mount Ousley Public School principal Emily Jones
Ms Jones said it was important for parents to remember that regardless of the recommendations, wellbeing of students and their family must come first.
"It's only once kids feel comfortable and safe that they can engage in learning," she said.
"Sometimes we need to give ourselves a bit of a break and take stock, because it is a stressful situation.
"We need to look after the wellbeing of our whole family, and if that means turning off the computer for a day, do it.
"No school expects parents to be teachers, and if you need support please reach out, because we're more than willing to help.
"Most importantly, take a deep breath, and know it's going to be okay."
Ms Jones said schools were built on relationships, and it is critical to find ways to foster connections between students, staff and parents during remote learning.
The Mount Ousley Public School P&C has been proactive in finding ways for the broader school community to stay connected, safely, during lockdown.
"Usually we'd have events for the school community to come together, like a Father's Day Stall," Ms Jones said.
"That's not possible at the moment, so this year we're doing a rad dad dance competition on video.
"Students take a video of them dancing with dad, send it in and we'll compile them all into single video to go out to everyone.
"It's an opportunity to see how others are going, and hopefully we'll have it finished before Father's Day weekend."
Ms Jones said she felt remote learning, while not ideal, was not all "doom and gloom".
"We're very lucky - without such dedicated staff and teachers, without the support of our parents, it would be much harder," she said.
"But remote learning is not doom and gloom, it is working successfully for a lot of schools and a lot of students."
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