A NEW REPORT from the Wimmera Development Association has studied the effect of remote learning on students and households in the region.
The study found parents reported a "significant" variation in how schools communicated with caregivers.
Some parents told researchers the social welfare, and support elements of education dropped off during the period of at-home learning.
The report also found internet access and connectivity impacted a child's ability to access school and engage with learning materials.
Dimboola Memorial Secondary College Principal Sally Klinge said her school was aware of these issues when remote learning was first implemented. The school provided internet dongles to students to ensure across-the-board internet access.
"There were only a few families that were unable to access or didn't have access to the internet," she said.
"Initially we provided internet access through a dongle, and then it became available through the Department of Education."
The initial rollout of remote education in Dimboola was slightly impacted by NBN installation in the area, which occurred simultaneously.
Mrs Klinge said the school was able to provide students with hardcopy learning materials if they needed them.
"I think most schools would say that there were things that worked well, especially for students who enjoy working independently," she said.
"Social connections are a vital part of school. It was the social connections and interactions that the students missed."
Mrs Klinge said remote learning proved challenging for teachers, as online communication was often less engaging than real-life classroom discussions.
"Even though we had videos with the explanation, it is the moments in a classroom when you can instantly clarify a query, the short conversation that clarifies uncertainty - that wasn't always able to happen," she said.
"We had a very strong wellbeing support team in place. Parents could always communicate with us.
"We had mentor groups and they were ringing the families every week to touch base and see if they had any issues or anything that they wanted to discuss in relation to their children."
St Brigid's College student wellbeing leader Leigh McDonald said the pandemic highlighted the need for student mental health to be a priority.
"Student wellbeing was a priority during remote learning and since we have been back to face-to-face learning," she said.
"During remote learning, the regular zooms allowed us to check in with our students. If students were missing their online classes, we would contact the families to check if everything was ok."
Ms McDonald said the school had become proactive about student wellbeing, especially during the lockdown.
"We set up a google classroom especially for wellbeing where students could find resources on maintaining their mental health.
"We also used the wellbeing google classroom for competitions, challenges, and activities that the students and staff could participate in so that everyone stayed connected."
The study recommended an increased effort to reduce inequality issues in education and support for students across the Wimmera.
Access to necessary technology and engagement with families were highlighted as critical elements of the learning from home experience.
Social and economic researcher Dr Cathy Tischler led the study for the Wimmera Development Association and said engagement was a key issue throughout the study.
"Internet access and connectivity impacted children's ability to access school and engage. This is particularly a concern for low-socioeconomic families and people living outside of larger towns in the region," she said.
The study recommended further consideration for ensuring educational and linked social welfare support.
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