STUDENTS at a Bendigo primary school have found a way to keep in touch with the region's older residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holy Rosary Primary School grade three students spent the first coronavirus remote learning period learning how to write letters.
The students wrote letters to the Bendigo Advertiser in May, detailing their experience of remote learning.
Teacher Jo Zimmer said when the students returned to face-to-face learning last term, they wanted a new project.
Fellow teacher Shelley DeAraugo came up with the idea of writing letters to residents at the Bentley Aged Care facility in East Bendigo.
"We presented the idea to the kids and they were extremely excited," Mrs Zimmer said. "But we also said to them to be prepared to not get a response, especially given the situation with the COVID-19 restrictions."
But the teachers and students were surprised when they received some letters back earlier this month.
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"We received a giant envelope at the main office," Mrs Zimmer said. "Inside was a huge card and a handful of letters responding to some of the kids.
"Not everyone received a letter back but that was fine. It seemed like the students developed a new pen pal."
Mrs Zimmer said the residents had put a lot of effort into their responses.
"The children were excited, as were the teachers," she said. "Some of the letters were absolutely beautiful."
Most schools in Victoria returned to remote learning earlier this month as COVID-19 case numbers increased.
Mrs Zimmer said any plans to respond or expand the letter writing program would be placed on hold until the students were back in the classroom.
"We're not going to be at school for at least another four or five weeks," she said. "So we will reassess then and speak to the students about if they wanted to reply."
Mrs Zimmer said the students had been thinking about older Victorians who might be doing it tougher during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Through our religious education program, we have been talking about how this COVID-19 situation affects different people in the community," she said.
"The kids have often prayed for different people and groups, and they often refer to the elderly.
"They have seen on the news that they can't have visitors at the aged care homes and that has really resonated with them.
"If times were different, we would take the kids for a visit at the aged care facility but we're living in a different world at the moment."
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