COVID-19 has brought about a raft of disruptions to the school year, but Year 6 captains from two Hawkesbury-based primary schools have taken the changes in their strides, showing maturity and resilience amid the global pandemic.
When the Gazette spoke with North Richmond Public School captains Brooke (11) and Tyler (12), the duo said they'd been watching the news in class, and often talked about the coronavirus with their classmates.
Though normal classes were interrupted for children for up to nine weeks, both pupils were glad to get back to school for five days a week in term 2.
"I love coming to school," said Brooke.
Tyler agreed: "Being at school is much better than [when we were doing classes from] home."
Both pupils utilised social media to keep in touch with friends and extended family members during the lockdown period, including Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger, with Tyler also using video sharing service TikTok.
"I used video calling to talk to my best friend a lot, and my Nan," said Brooke.
Tyler, who does a lot of after-school sports activities, said while some sports had resumed, he was still waiting for tennis to go back.
"I made it to six district teams for PSSA [NSW Primary Schools Sports Association], and now we can't play those, which is pretty disappointing," Tyler said.
Brooke said: "We don't do sport, but we have been home a lot [more than usual], and the dentist was cancelled."
Over in Richmond, St Monica's Primary School captain Jesse (12), said his family always made sure they implemented COVID-19 precautions, like keeping their distance and using hand sanitiser before and after going to the shops.
"We've had to lay low for a bit, staying in and keeping safe for my grandparents because they're most vulnerable," Jesse said.
He said the coronavirus was talked about in school, particularly in terms of social distancing.
"We're younger so we have to remember to keep our distance with the teachers," he said.
When the pandemic hit, a lot of Jesse's after-school sports were cancelled, but he kept up his skills by practicing at home.
"My soccer got cancelled, Oztag got cancelled, cricket got cancelled. So we could still learn with my coach we talked about fitness skills in quarantine, it was really hard," he said.
"In my house it was go outside and kick a ball a bit, try to get your daily exercise. For cricket we went to the local reserve and played cricket with family."
When the Gazette spoke with Jesse, he said he was looking forward to playing his first game of soccer since soccer training had resumed.
"In soccer training, only the coach and manager can watch, the parents have to watch from their cars, but I've liked it because all the parents aren't yelling at the players," he said.
Jesse said he spent a couple of weeks at home during quarantine but was glad to be back at school full time.
"At home I didn't have as much help [with my schoolwork]. I find it easier back at school being one-on-one with teachers. It's easier with the help - with quarantine I was falling a bit behind. I also like seeing my friends a lot more," Jesse said.