It should be a busy time at Canberra schools, a hurried few weeks for students, staff and teachers as the Easter break nears.
Not this year. Not on campus, at least.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended Canberra's education system, turning homes into classrooms and some parents, at least for now, into relief teachers.
How did we get here?
The ACT government announced late last Sunday afternoon that the territory's schools would go "student-free" from Tuesday until school holidays.
The move, which would lead to mass confusion across the Canberra community over the following 36 hours, was somewhat surprising given the territory had been in lock-step with other jurisdictions in publicly defending the need to keep schools open and functioning normally amid the pandemic.
But the situation in classrooms had changed drastically over the preceding days, all but forcing the government's hand.
As parents started pulling their children out of school as a precaution against COVID-19, teachers found themselves stretched between catering for those students at home and those remaining in class.
If homeschooling was to be the new norm, teachers would need to be trained in how to deliver classes remotely - and quickly.
The plan was hatched to make schools "student-free", giving teachers vital time and space to complete a crash course in online teaching before term 2 started.
Senior education directorate officials were called early on Sunday morning to start the monumental task of preparing the territory's 88 public schools for the shift to a remote-learning curriculum.
But once the plan was announced on Sunday afternoon, it didn't take long for confusion to set in.
Moments after stepping out of a meeting of the national cabinet, which includes ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated his view that the nation's schools should remain open.
His comments prompted ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry to issue a late-night statement confirming the territory's "pupil-free" plan would go ahead.
What followed was a regrettable mess of mixed-messaging and contradictions, which confused, angered and alarmed parents and carers.
On one hand, Mr Barr and Ms Berry were encouraging parents to keep their children at home during the "pupil-free" period, but stressing that schools would remain open for any student who needed to physically attend. At the same time, the ACT Education Directorate was advising parents that they weren't allowed to send their child to class.
It wasn't until 4pm that all sides were on the same page. Students should be at home, but if they couldn't be, they wouldn't be turned away from attending school.
By Tuesday, some of the fog had cleared. Fewer than 5 per cent of ACT public school students attended class on the first "pupil-free" day.
ACT Catholic Education director Ross Fox said parents were being encouraged to keep their children at home, but stressed that schools would remain open for the remainder of term 1 for those who needed it.
Planning for a monumental shift
A repurposed old college campus in Weston Creek has become mission control for the public school system's transition to the new system.
The directorate's executive team have moved from their Northbourne Avenue offices to Stirling's Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning to oversee preparations.
While it might not match the sheer intensity of Emergency Service Agency headquarters during a bushfire crisis, the control centre is running with a level of urgency that reflects the scale and importance of the task at hand.
To comply with "social distancing" rules, desks are being spaced out in rooms across the building. On one table, staff are working to refine a new student learning program, which has already been accessed more than 35,000 times - including by thousands of people around the world - since it was published online on Monday.
Downstairs, dozens of Chromebook devices are being "tagged and tested" before they are distributed to students.
The most important task during the "pupil-free" period is to "teach the teachers" about the online programs they will be using when classes resume in term 2 - assuming current restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 aren't lifted.
From inside Hedley Beare, the directorate is running intensive online training courses for teachers, who are logging on from computers at either their school or home.
Teachers are planning to use Google Hangouts Meet to live stream classes for students. The Screencastify program will allow teachers to pre-record lessons, which students will be able to access on-demand.
The content of the curriculum might not change, but the method through which it will be delivered certainly will.
"A teacher would already have had in their mind what they would have been teaching in Term 2," senior education directorate official Ross Hawkins told The Canberra Times.
"What this is doing is requiring teachers to rethink how they deliver that content."
Mr Hawkins said the ACT education system was well placed to respond to the unprecedented situation because of the government's investment in digital education technology.
Since 2018, the government has provided every secondary school student with a Chromebook device.
Ms Berry on Saturday announced that all year 4, 5 and 6 students would have access to a device as part of a plan to ensure "equitable access to online and home-based learning" amid the coronavirus disruptions.
The directorate is aware that not all public school students have easy access to the internet, or a computer, or a stable home environment. It is one of the reasons schools are remaining open.
"It is very much front of our mind," Mr Hawkins said.
While acknowledging the challenge that awaits, he said the forced shift to full-scale remote learning presented a huge opportunity for educators and students.
School, like so many other things, might never be the same after the coronavirus crisis.
The home front
The overwhelming majority of Canberra students and parents will have experienced homeschooling for the first time in the past week.
Reynolds said it was important that children first understood what the pandemic was and why it meant that they had to be kept home from school.
After that, she said it was imperative that parents and children established and followed a clear daily routine, which was encouraged and supported by their school and teachers.
"One of the things that we know from a social psychology perspective is that norms really matter, so establishing these norms of expected behaviour is really important," she said.
"It's about structure, habit and expectation. It's going to save a lot of time and arguments later on if you agree early on about how you are going to work together."
Reynolds said establishing daily routines was particularly important for parents, many of whom will be forced to balance their work requirements with keeping an eye on their child's learning.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association spokeswoman Janelle Kennard earlier this week told The Canberra Times that parents were finding the juggling act challenging.
"The common theme is that juggling at-home workers and at-home school learners is tricky, both logistically and in terms of head space and patience," Ms Kennard said.
Dancing on their own
Teachers are already finding novel ways to engage - and entertain - their students from afar.
Mount Stromlo High School this week streamed a dance class, led by a teacher dressed in a cowboy costume, on its Facebook page.
Rebecca Casey, a year 5/6 teacher at Holy Trinity Primary School in Curtin, has been "video-logging" her daily activities to share with her students.
The videos have helped to lift the spirits of her absent pupils and their parents.
"It was nice to see the smiles and laughter as our family watched the video. After the first week of being at home we were struggling with the isolation of not seeing friends and family," Vanessa Prail, whose daughter Emma is in Rebecca's class, said in an email to the school earlier this week.
"We are so grateful for this connection which has been important in keeping the kids happy and motivated."
Despite the best efforts of teachers, the past week has proven immensely challenging for students. And it's unlikely to become easier in the near future.
Chichi Makwaza, who is in year 12 at Gungahlin College, said students were in a "state of confusion and anxiety" throughout the week.
The 17-year-old was hopeful that remote learning would be manageable, but was realistic about what it might mean for her results at the end of the year.
"Even though we know this wasn't something that could've been prepared for, it's disheartening watching it all unfold," she said.
"My biggest hope is just that we will all have the same opportunities as students before us. Our chances of success we've worked years for are being affected greatly. Though schools will understandably try to continue with this as if it's normal to avoid anxiety, it's not.
"All we can do is try our hardest, work together and hope it turns out positively."
Chichi said she would miss seeing her friends and teachers in person. But she said teenagers and millennials did have one thing to keep their spirits up during their time apart.
"It's creating a global thing. Like, 'we are all kinda screwed, but we're in this together'. I think it's bringing a lot of people together," she said.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.