Dr Spurrier’s letter to parents and to teachers was unexpected but not surprising given the lowered rate of infection that we have been able to achieve as a state. She has been clear in saying that it is safe for children to return to school. In addition, I fully understand the questions that are being asked by parents about what Term Two might look like, and I will attempt to make it clearer as to what to expect in week one.
Minister Gardener said: “We’ll continue with the approach that we were taking at the end of Term 1 but I would expect that the transition to face-to-face teaching, which some people thought might have happened at the end of the year; some people might have thought might have happened in the end of Term 3; we’ll probably be in a position to transition to face-to-face as the main mode of delivery early in Term 2,” he said.
Returning to the classroom is of course the longer term aim for all children, but the critical question we grapple with is how to achieve that while at the same time maintaining the advice given for the general community about physical distancing and other strategies designed to keep us on track as a state. Teachers take their duty of care to students very seriously and have put into place a number of measures to enable that duty of care to be maintained. At the same time we are encouraged by the Health professionals’ positive attitude as they work through this difficult time.
I acknowledge there is anxiety in our community; please email your child’s teacher in the first instance if you have any concerns. We will continue to promote the two specific strategies of physical distancing and washing hands, acknowledged as the best way we can keep everyone safe.
Assemblies will continue to be cancelled, students will be asked not to gather in large groups, more regular cleaning will continue and where any child appears unwell or has a cough, sniffly nose etc, they will be sent home.
At the beginning of Term Two, we will continue to do the following:
- parents to continue to drop year 3-7 children at the school gate rather than entering the school grounds (most reception children are capable of this as well)
- there is still a ‘no go’ zone in the front office which is clearly marked – please do not move past the sign
- all classrooms continue to be off limits to parents until further notice
- volunteers will not be providing their skills and services at this stage
- no facilities will be hired
- assemblies, discos, banking, stalls, parent network meetings, incursions and excursions have all been cancelled until further notice
- the canteen will provide a simplified choice for lunches only – there will be no recess or lunch opening of the canteen
- parent meetings with teachers will be via phone or zoom only
- all children will be expected to follow the recommendations to wash hands for 20 seconds as required or use sanitiser when directed by staff
- physical distancing will be practiced where practicable
- all students will have The Australian Curriculum presented as an online program only at this stage, whether at school or at home
- playground equipment will be available for use at recess and lunchtimes only
- the library will run a modified program and there will be the opportunity by students to borrow and return books; this may look different initially
- OSHC will continue to be offered before and after school
In the first week we will get a better idea of how many children are going to attend school. At the end of Term One we endeavoured to get an idea of the possible numbers of children actually attending school; I thank you for that feedback. We anticipate that the actual numbers of students attending on a day-to-day basis will fluctuate. Teachers will review the learning program on a regular basis, beginning at Tuesday’s staff meeting. Changes or refinements will be made following those reviews.
As indicated by the government, you are certainly able to keep your child/ren at home rather than sending your child/ren to school, and I appreciate that many of you have already made the decision to keep your child/ren at home. Whatever your decision, it is supported.
It should be said that physical distancing is extremely difficult in a school setting, particularly for younger children. We work diligently to encourage all students to wash hands thoroughly after going to the toilet, but we know that this is carried out with various degrees of effectiveness. Sanitiser is kept in classrooms and will be used frequently.
As you are aware, teachers have invested a huge amount of time, expertise, energy, and effort in preparing the online program for Term Two, setting up packs of work and determining how to give feedback and to gather evidence of learning. I know that a number of you collected packs of work prior to the end of last term and we appreciate your support.
It is to be celebrated that as a state we have managed to lower the infection rate in such a dramatic manner. However, it is no time to become complacent and we must continue to encourage and abide by the strategies to keep everyone safe.
As I mentioned earlier, we will continue with the online program at this stage for all students. No child will be disadvantaged by learning at home.
Children attending school will need to bring with them a set of headphones to use for their online learning.
We also asked who might have difficulty with the online component due to the quality of internet at home, and/or availability of a suitable device or devices. Monday morning will see us going through your feedback/requests and where appropriate, making contact with you. If you believe that you should have been contacted and we do not do so, please either send us an email explaining what your needs are or phone the front office. We ask for your patience during this time.
Over the next few weeks it will become clearer if we are able to achieve a total return to all students having face-to-face teaching as Health professionals have advised. Further updates will be given via the Newsblog as information comes to hand. It is the case of taking it one step at a time, being consistent in our approach to learning and hygiene as we progress towards the ultimate goal of face-to-face learning.
Thankyou for your ongoing understanding as we work together in ensuring the ongoing education of your child/ren.