Principal's Page - Pat Ellis
Another week done of Remote Learning. Well done for everything you are doing. We really appreciated you supporting us during this time. We also really appreciate the St Michael's School Community trusting in us to do what is right for the students within our school. As you know, every school is different and has a different context. For us, the wellbeing of our students is something we prioritise and ensure everyone feels safe and supported. For this reason, we will continue to make decisions, in the best interest of the students at St Michael's.
There is much commentary at the moment
regarding kids not being at school and what that means.
We are all wanting things to get back to normal as quickly as possible. There is much to consider regarding a transition back to school and going from our current situation to full time attendance for everyone, we don't feel is setting our students up for success. We would consider a transition plan back to full time schooling a more effective model. This is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime situation that we have found ourselves in with the pandemic. We need to support our students to move back into the routine and structure of school. The focus should unapologetically be focused on wellbeing, connection and relationships.
Please trust us as the experts, this is what we do. This is our profession, this is what we are trained for, and this is what we are passionate about. Follow the learning plan that teachers have set, just do what you can and we will sort out where students are at when we get back to normal and continue to work with you in the best interest of your child. Just as a side, from an education point of view, some students have in the past taken holidays from school for longer periods of time than we are currently experiencing, we have 6-7 weeks off over the Christmas break and along with other breaks from learning and there aren't the claims doing the rounds like at present through the media. If anything, over this period all students have been doing more 'school' learning than they would have been doing over Christmas break or when they have taken extra family holiday times.
Once students come back, we will get through, back to normal sooner than expected. The leadership at St Michael's, the teaching staff and support staff all are committed, knowledgeable and passionate educators who will stop at nothing to ensure this occurs. Know that students will be learning a lot throughout this time, on top of the normal 'school' learning. Students at the moment are learning firsthand about community, responsibility, resilience and self-discipline. The importance of family, valuing those friendships that are sometimes taken for granted, appreciating school as a place of comfort and support. All of these things are skills,values and attributes that we strive for our children to learn and appreciate. Whilst we aren't all in the same boat at the moment, we are all in the same storm. We are all experiencing some level of discomfort, anxiety, fear and worries. We are all here to support you, your child and your family. Just reach out.
Some tips for this week.
1. Model for your children how to deal with this current situation. Model compassion and model taking care of yourself.
2. Help to maintain as much routine and structure as possible. Whilst you don’t have to follow a structured academic plan, it is important to still follow a plan each day for what fits in with your family.
3. Promote discussion, ask your child what they are learning and why. Support them to make connections.
4. Tell family stories. Every family has stories to tell. This helps foster identity and strengthens family bonds.
5. Write about what is happening. Allow journaling. It is important to speak at an age appropriate level for all children. Not talking creates increased anxiety and worries.
6. Be creative. Build, construct, explore and discover.
7. Read, read, read. If all you can do each day is one thing, read lots and read often. Read comics, books, digital books, whatever works. Make it fun!
Plan Moving Forward
An email was sent out yesterday informing parents that we are currently working on transition planning for student to return in the near future. For now, Week 3 will remain as the current situation. Remote Learning for those at home and at school. The current advice remains, if you can keep your child at home, please do so. We are working on our operational procedures to be better placed for increasing attendance when it occurs.
Our current transition plan would occur over a fortnight (once we get the greenlight for a start date). We would look to start Kindergarten as soon as we possibly could and get them back into the routine and structure of school. As you can appreciate, Remote Learning for a Kindergarten student could be quite challenging. We would also look to bring back all students for two days a week. Students across Years 1-6 would either come back Monday & Tuesday, or Thursday and Friday. These days would be determined by the school to ensure an even spread of numbers and even spread of student needs and abilities to ensure we are best placed to make the return for all students successful. The other 3 days students not attending school, will have remote learning at home. We are calling this a Blended Remote Learning Mode. This transition plan we are anticipating would last for a fortnight with then all students attending all 5 days to occur after that.
Of course, I must state that at all times we will follow government, health and CE directive and this could all change again quite quickly. The health and safety of all those at school is our first priority at this time.
Once all students are back, the second half of the term will look as normal as we possibly can, although the 'normal' class structure of the past would not to present until Term 3. Whilst we will return to face-to-face teaching this term sometime, we still may have staff working remotely or on leave, some students still learning at home due to their own medical or health advice and of course physical distancing and other safety measures in place. So whilst we will be back at school and 'face-to-face' teaching occurring, it will still be a little bit different for the rest of Term 2.
So our fortnight plan is in place and as soon as we are given the greenlight, we will roll this fortnight plan out and move forward with our transition plan.
Health and Safety Measures
Throughout this term, as we plan for
transitioning students back to school, we will continue to maintain our new safety and health measures. This is to ensure the health and safety of everyone at school, including the staff.
Drop off and pick up drive throughs only until further notice. This will definitely be in place for the remainder of Term 2. We will not be having any assemblies this term and we are requesting parents do not come into the school building. A teacher will assist at the sliding doors each morning and afternoon. We appreciate your support with ensuring that these peak times do not become gathering times. Likewise, with any increase of student attendance, we will need to make sure that our school carpark doesn't become a gathering place. Any parent who needs to access the school, will need to report to the Front Office and a staff member will collect what it is that is needed. The Front Desk now has extra tables in front and we would ask that you not lean over when communicating with staff. The sliding door student entry will be locked once school starts each day and will not be unlocked until student dismissal. Any parent/teacher meeting we will encourage as a Zoom or MSTeams meeting wherever possible.
We will continue with our detailed cleaning each day and will be installing permanent sanitiser stations throughout the school.
As our play equipment is fenced off to the public, our students will be able to start using it again on their return provided they use sanitiser prior. Our school bubblers will be closed, so students will need to ensure they bring their own water bottle each day. Any devices used will be wiped after use.
We will encourage wherever possible, physical distancing. We will also continue to have strict sick bay arrangements in place. At all times, should your child have a cough, runny nose, feel sick in the stomach, have a temperature or any other symptom, to please keep them at home. Any child who indicates this to us at school or is observed to display any illness related symptom, parents will be called and students will be sent home. We have a digital thermometer at school now and any high temperatures, students will also be sent home.
Whilst some may think these measures are too strict, we will not apologise for any strengthen health and safety procedures that we deem necessary to ensure a safe place for students to learn and a safe place for staff to work, especially during this time.
As you can appreciate, staff have been put under a lot of pressure of late and we have requested a lot of them in a short amount of time, I will need to ensure their working environment is as safe as possible as attendance is increasing, so they can fully support every student in front of them. I appreciate that there is much commentary on this, however, those on the ground, teaching in schools should be the ones to determine the safety precautions of that environment.
We are all in this together - let us know how we can further help if you need.
Again, a huge thanks to our amazing staff who continue to step up, innovate and show their commitment to every child at St Michael’s.
Just a reminder that it is enrolment time! We already have a dozen or so enrolments which is excellent with a few new families looking to join St Michael's. Just a reminder if you have a child looking to start Kindergarten in 2021 to jump on our website and complete an enrolment form.
Please spread the good news about our school. The best marketing a school can do is through their current families. Word of mouth is very powerful when it comes to families choosing a school for their child. Please recommend us and basically, talk us up please. I am starting to do personal zoom meetings with new families, taking them for a virtual tour and answering any questions they have. I am happy to do this for any new families’ wanting to know more about St Michael's. I can't talk enough about how great our school is, so easy for me to sell the school in the best light possible.
Don't forget, we are hosting our third 'Drive By' on Friday at 10am. This will be to celebrate our Mothers and all those women in our lives who help, support, affirm, challenge and love us. Please drive through the staff carpark from 10am (we will stay out there for 20 minutes) to say hello. We hope to see you then.
We hope everyone has a lovely Mother's Day on Sunday!
Please take care.
Enjoy the week ahead.