BENDIGO year 12 students say a second year of disrupted learning is taking a toll on their mental health and wellbeing.
With the state in its fifth coronavirus lockdown - and its third lockdown of the year - Marist College Bendigo student Phoenix Pointon said remote learning was adding to the anxiety of an already challenging year.
"It's not ideal that's for sure," she said. "Year 12 is a stressful enough year and the snap lockdowns add to the uncertainty. Our routine keeps getting changed.
"Being at home, you also don't have the social aspect to lighten the mood or your friends to rely on for support."
Fellow Marist year 12 student Grace Binns said there was an expectation that students would just adjust to the "new normal".
"But in comparison, nothing is normal," she said. "The turbulence of the past 12 months has been very disorienting.
"Things like the GAT and exams are being thrown into disarray, which amplifies that sense of uncertainty and worry for senior students."
Erin de Ravel, another Marist College year 12 student, said extracurricular events have also been compromised.
The school already postponed its year 12 formal because of the fourth lockdown and would likely have to do so again as it was planned for Friday night.
"It's been very hard lately," Miss de Ravel said. "But we're trying and we just have to find a way to get through it together."
The three students said their teachers have done all they could to ease their anxiety and ensure they were well-supported. But Miss de Ravel said her focus had dropped off during lockdown.
"The lack of motivation has especially impacted my schooling," she said. "I'm fairly organised and normally very motivated, so this has been hard. I'm just trying to keep as optimistic as I can."
Miss Binns said she had been trying to practise self forgiveness and empathy, especially on days when she was feeling unproductive.
She said the past two years had changed her plans for life after secondary school.
"I plan to go to uni at some stage, but it's more likely that I will take a gap year in 2022," she said.
"For me, being thrown into lockdowns and that inconsistency has brought out a lot of anxiety and concerns that perhaps had laid dormant before.
"If anything, I'm grateful for that level of self awareness. But I want to explore more and restore a greater sense of myself before I go into that next chapter.
"I used to be strongly opposed to a gap year but now I see the merit in taking a year to regroup."
Miss Pointon said she was also changing some of her plans.
"I knew I wanted to have a gap year regardless," she said. "But I was interested in doing medical school and to get into that, you have to sit the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test).
"I was meant to do it in the middle school holidays but I ended up pulling out because I wasn't coping great. It will have a big impact on the long term."
Miss Pointon said the family and friends of year 12 students should check in on them, regardless of how they were reacting to lockdown.
"If you know someone in year 12, reach out to them," she said. "Do something social with them. Don't let them go through it alone.
"They might try and push you away, but they might be struggling in silence."
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