How Loreto Fostered Positive Wellbeing Outcomes for Boarding Students During the Pandemic

In recognition of National Boarding Week (15 – 21 May), Loreto Marryatville Principal Dr Nicole Archard, reflects on the lessons learnt by Boarding school’s during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts felt by Boarders.

Boarding schools largely bore the brunt of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns, boarder closures and tight restrictions having a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of schools nationwide.

“COVID presented many challenges for Boarding Schools, however, in large we have risen to this challenge and successfully managed COVID within the Boarding setting. Both from the perspective of limiting COVID-19 infection and transmission, but importantly maintaining the social and emotional wellbeing of students,” said Dr Archard.

Dr Archard highlights that the major challenge faced by Loreto College Boarding students was the separation from family and friends due to border closures.

“Many of our students from overseas, interstate, and vulnerable communities remained on campus for extended periods throughout the pandemic. We knew action was needed to offset the profound impact to our girl’s mental health. This led us to implement our Social, Emotional and Academic Development (SEAD) Program into the Boarding House.”

The Loreto Marryatville SEAD Program strengthens social and emotional skill development in conjunction with learning outcomes to ensure students develop holistically as resilient and confident girls and young women.

“One specific aspect of SEAD is a check-in process to gauge the week-to-week wellbeing and engagement Boarders using the Student Pulse online tool. By tracking the wellbeing of individual students, we are able to swiftly respond to those who express a need. During the pandemic this allowed us to track Boarding students specifically and compare them to their day school peers in order to see if they were tracking differently and act,” said Dr Archard.

Student Pulse provides ongoing anonymised student attitudes towards learning engagement and student social and emotional needs. This information can then be utlised to make informed changes programs based on student voice and understanding.

Looking toward the future, Dr Archard remains confident the implementation of the SEAD Program into the Boarding House will continue to bolster the wellbeing outcomes of students.

“An important aspect of the program was that it provided the holistic data needed to put an overarching SEAD program in place for Boarding students. Including sessions with our College Psychologist on mindfulness and homesickness as well as nutrition-based programs on healthy eating, all promoting the overall approach to our girl’s wellbeing,” said Dr Archard.

As a small community of 58 boarders, Loreto Marryatville is proud to maintain an environment that feels like a family for the girls under the College’s care.

In speaking to the opportunities afforded through Boarding, Dr Archard says:

“Becoming a Boarder provides the girls an opportunity to learn independence, resilience as well as develop confidence. Boarding students improve their academic results by having access to greater resources and learning opportunities than they might have had at home. A structured homework and study time also assists the girls to develop good study habits and become autonomous learners.”

“We ensure girls are well prepared for tertiary study, developing the resilience and independence needed to live away from home. They benefit from their experience in the Boarding environment where learning is challenged, and students are encouraged to think creatively, critically, and independently.”

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