'Peace of mind' spurs on enrollments in NSW boarding schools

The Armidale School and New England Girls School note increase in enrollments due to COVID-19

Coronavirus
File photo.

File photo.

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COVID-19 enforced border closures have caused parents to reconsider NSW boarding schools.

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THE anxiety COVID-19-enforced border closures caused families in 2020 has caused an influx of enrollments, according to two of the state's leading boarding schools.

New England Girls School (NEGS) and The Armidale School (TAS) in the state's North West have both seen an increase in enrollments for the 2021 school year and both have cited the pandemic as the cause.

TAS head of school Alan Jones said plenty of families living in the state's border regions had flagged an interest in attending the school because of the logistical benefits.

"The New England and North West region has been free of the virus for many months now, but the school remains vigilant in providing a COVID-safe environment for those who study, live and work at TAS, including our boarders," Mr Jones said.

"Unfortunately, the uncertainty for families who have children boarding in a different state to where they live seems likely to continue, and this has been reflected in an increase in the number of enquiries from NSW families who live close to the Queensland border, interested in having their students board at a school in the same state, for all the logistical benefits."

As students prepare to return to school, parents across the state are calling for clarity to ensure interstate students can cross state borders to return to school.

"At this stage, our understanding is that our students who live in Queensland and the Northern Territory will be able to return to TAS on January 27 for the start of Term 1, without having to quarantine when they get here," Mr Jones said.

"It is too early to predict what the situation will be regarding them returning home for holidays, but we have managed this successfully in the past and are confident will be able to meet any similar challenges again, should they arise."

New NEGS principal Kathy Bishop said changing attitudes to living in regional areas and working remotely had also contributed to the increase.

"I think more and more people are seeing the opportunities that exist in regional areas," Ms Bishop said.

"In turn, I think more city people will begin to consider working remotely and relocating to regional areas such as Armidale.

"Having the University of New England nearby is a major benefit to us because it offers reassurance to those people relocating that state-of-the-art educational facilities are on offer in the region.

"We are really looking forward to our boarders returning for the new school year and it will be pleasing to not only see all of our existing students, but the ones beginning their NEGS journey this year as well."

Fellow North West boarding institution Calrossy Anglican School in Tamworth has also adapted to a new world of COVID-19 education by introducing distance learning.

Launched on Monday, the program, which is thought to be one of the first of its kind in Australia, allows students to learn in real time, interact with their teachers and their fellow students from their homes.

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