Dear families,

Given the number of people who have accessed the Sports Day video, you would be aware of the fun that everyone had, with a moderate level of competition in some events. The teacher vs student event was eventful and it appears that both groups claimed to be winners. Other years our Japanese guests have taken part and they expressed their disappointment at not being here for our sports day. Thanks to everyone who made it such a success. Thankyou to all parents who helped us by not coming to the day itself.  That was much appreciated.

This year the ability to include parents in school activities and events has been extremely limited. We understand the frustration that this has caused for some people and I have appreciated the goodwill that has been forthcoming from everyone during this time. We have permitted a number of visitors to come and share their knowledge and experience with students. This has included  our visiting scientists and authors, along with Bike Education plus several excursions. Each of these has taken considerable planning to meet COVID-19 restrictions.

After school sports has been a plus, with most starting up again, albeit with certain requirements to remain COVID-19 compliant; and Mr Hehner has ensured that students wishing to take part in SAPSASA events have had the opportunity to do so.

Unfortunately however, our Christmas Concert and Fireworks evening that is usually held on the oval with often several thousand people attending, will need to be cancelled for this year. I have included an explanation below as to why this is not something that we can go ahead with. It may give an idea also why local Councils have cancelled their own Christmas events.  We will however,  plan for an even better fireworks display in 2021.

As a school we are required to comply with what is in place to keep us all safe. I understand that one of the questions that may be asked is how come not all schools are doing exactly the same (though through my colleagues, the majority are being very consistent with what we are doing)? When we carry out our risk assessments and COVID-19 planning, there are variables that we must take into consideration.

Recently we were able to arrange for a limited number of parents to watch their own children perform the Wakakirri dance. This involved a limited number of people yet took considerable organisation. For even just that number of people we had a COVID Safe Plan included in our own risk management planning. That is the case for numbers up to 1000. Once we get over 1000 people at an event, we have to create a COVID-19 Management Plan, which is quite demanding and complex. To give some idea of what we have to comply with under a COVID Management Plan, the following questions form just part of the application for approval;

2.1 Publicly accessible areas

·       How will you ensure each rooms’ capacity is not exceeded including restroom/toilets?

·       How will you monitor the number of patrons at any given time?

·       How will distancing be managed in all spaces including toilets?

·       How will you identify and separate social groups?

·       How will distancing be managed pre-entry and on exit?

Plus there are Operational Controls Standards that must be addressed, including keeping attendance records preferably with time of entry and exit, sanitising contact areas with cleaning products and managing incidents of non-compliance.

This puts us in a situation where it becomes impossible for us to manage an event such as our Community Event at the end of the year safely and be compliant with the COVID Management Plan. With 662 students at school, (plus 69 staff), it is easy to see that if only 2 parents per child attend an event, that we are instantly at 1324 parents. If we add in students and staff, we have over 2000 people. Hence we make judgements related to potential numbers as well as to the complexity of managing such a sizeable event. I am certainly not keen to have staff acting as COVID Marshalls, policing parents at events, especially when they are responsible for managing their own group of children as well.

I hope this explains our dilemma in relation to holding large scale events where as a school we have to continue with our teaching and learning program and yet remain compliant with SA Health requirements.

Kind regards,

Steve Freeman