Twin sisters Roberta and Ava Vagnarelli were eager roll up their sleeves for a jab when year 12 students were given priority access to new Pfizer appointments.
For Roberta, having a vaccine has made her more comfortable with sitting the ACT Scaling Test next month alongside about 300 of her classmates at Lake Ginninderra College.
"The Delta strain has been terrifying because we know how severe cases can be, like the guy in hospital in his 20s. That's scary," she said.
"We still want to do all the school stuff, but we want to do it safely."
The class of 2021 faces an uncertain road to the end of their school journey. Their usual classes have been switched to an online format, while excursions and practical lessons have been cancelled.
Roberta, 17, has been studying outdoor recreation, a vocational subject focused on outdoor adventure activities like snorkelling and skiing, but most of the trips were cancelled because of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The trailer was all packed for one of the camps when her teacher got a call from the Education Directorate saying it was cancelled.
"Everyone's just sort of devastated ... We've been preparing everything and doing all the theory work and really looking forward to going on these trips and I know that a lot of the kids who do outdoor rec really want to do it when they finish school. So it's difficult for them to see that happening."
Education Minister Yvette Berry said the continuous assessment over year 11 and 12 had made the situation less stressful compared to other states.
"The really good thing about the college system in the ACT is that the assessments can be modified and because the assessments occurred throughout the two years of college, that can easily be adjusted through remote education," she said.
"So for example, larger exams worth 30 per cent generally have changed to a series of smaller weekly quizzes that add up to the same percentage."
Most college students are working towards the ACT Scaling Test, which has three parts designed to test their critical thinking skills. The results are used to moderate the school-based assessments and calculate the ATAR for university entrance.
However, some students in the ACT and surrounding region are following the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the New South Wales Higher School Certificate (HSC). These programs are heavily reliant on the final exams in each subject.
Angus Thompson, a year 12 student at Canberra Grammar School, was hoping to boost his ATAR by doing well in the final IB exams. The exams are set to start on October 25 but the students won't know if they will go ahead until closer to that date.
"It's incredibly hard. No-one's motivated and there's a lot of speculation. We don't know if final exams will happen or we'll get some predicted grade," he said.
"It's complete uncertainty. Not a lot of fun and there's a lot of mental health issues as well."
Angus was also hoping to nab some bonus ATAR points by competing in national cross-country running competitions, but all of the races have been cancelled.
"Half of me is like, just do what's fun, but then to actually stay competitive you get to the stuff that's not so much fun. It really hurts and it's really hard but really rewarding when you actually have a race," he said.
Many of his friends got early offers for university but he missed out. He would be more confident in getting an offer to study international relations at ANU if he was able to sit the final exams.
"My English exam for example, it's an hour and 15 minutes, and it's 65 per cent of my grade for just that so that that makes up a large portion of the IB in general," Angus said.
His mother, general practitioner Dr Catriona Moxham, said schools should do everything they could to ensure year 12 exams go ahead.
"I think that if everybody was fully vaccinated, then it is pretty safe. And it is entirely possible that you could put a tent on an oval and have people meters apart from each other and have a big breeze blowing through a tent," she said.
"I think every school has the capacity to make things happen in these unprecedented times to rise to the occasion and find a way of making it happen."
Ms Berry said the intention was for the AST to go ahead on October 12 and 13, by which point all students should have had access to at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"At the end of the day it'll all still depend on health advice and what situation looks like in the middle of October," she said.
While their plans for studies, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs have been totally upended, class of 2021 also doesn't know if it will be able to gather and celebrate their achievements. The Education Directorate hasn't put out any advice on whether formals and graduations will be able to go ahead.
Dr Moxham watched her eldest walking out of school through a pathway lined by the other students, something Angus might not get to experience.
"I think rites of passage are really important for those kind of moments where you reflect, and you're proud of yourself and then you look forward to the future," she said.
Coming back to school to graduate next year is not appealing to Angus, while Roberta doesn't want the end of her school years to culminate in an online graduation.
"Formal, it's kind of a luxury and we are really looking forward to it, but graduation, I don't really want to graduate online, that doesn't sound like much fun," she said.
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