Dear Parents and Families,
I don’t think even those with very active imaginations could have pictured that we would be in a situation like this at the start of Term 2. 2020 is definitely unfolding as an unprecedented and very challenging time. Let’s hope that this is a once in a lifetime situation. Regardless of whether you are learning at school or learning from home, I take this opportunity to welcome you to our new term, despite it feeling and looking so different. Out of adversity it is so important that we look for and appreciate the positives and with that lens, I would like to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing work that is going on across our school community to support wellbeing and to provide continuity of learning for our students. I often talk about education being a partnership between families and school; this is now more true than ever!
Teaching and learning are currently being provided using three modes of delivery. In a large school this is challenging and complex. Based on the advice from the Department of Health, the Minister for Education has asked that where possible students should continue to learn at home, supported by parents and carers, with teachers leading this learning. We therefore have a large number of students who are learning at home. For many this learning is being undertaken online, mainly using Canvas as a platform. It has been great to see people embrace this change and adapt so quickly to learning in an online environment. For our staff this has included many hours of planning, developing new skills and designing learning programs to suit online learning. I absolutely commend our teachers for their hard work, flexibility and commitment to providing meaningful learning for all students. Similarly, students and parents are also coping with many changes and we greatly appreciate your efforts to set up learning routines at home and I understand that this comes with its own set of challenges. We are all in this together – our staff are here to support students, to check in, to answer questions and provide feedback. We also really value the important role that parents are playing in supporting students with learning and have greatly appreciated the contact from parents where we have been able to support you, provide assurance and respond to queries. Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We also have a group of students who are using paper-based packages of work to support their learning. This work is issued in two-week units. Families are encouraged to collect the next unit of work from the Admin Office on the Thursday of the even weeks of term (i.e. week 2, 4 etc). Students’ completed work is also able to be delivered to us at this time so that teachers can provide feedback. We appreciate you supporting us to ensure that students receive their work and feedback in a timely manner. It is imperative that students learning from these paper-based packages contact their teachers as soon as possible if they experience difficulties, have questions or are unable to complete set tasks.
Our school is open where students cannot be supported or supervised at home. Students who are working at school are completing the same learning as students who are working from home. Learning at school also looks a little different at the moment as our class groupings and timetable structure has needed to be altered. Students attending have been very focused and are making the most of opportunities for small group and individual support.
A reminder that our expectations at school remain the same as always. It is important that students are in full school uniform and adhering to our uniform policy. We also expect that mobile phones are off and away all day. Keeping the expectations high and the routines consistent is really important in supporting students, particularly when we reach a stage when larger numbers of students will return to our school.
We continue to have very thorough processes in place to ensure our school is clean and hygienic for everyone. Our cleaning staff are doing a great job of regular and thorough cleaning including ensuring surfaces are wiped frequently during the day. We have routines for regular handwashing and hand sanitiser is now located throughout the school. It is important that we continue to be vigilant with these routines.
You may be aware that in line with updated Australian Health Protection advice, social distancing guidelines for students has altered. The venue density rule is not appropriate or practical, nor is maintaining 1.5 metres between students during classroom activities. While we are still encouraging sensible social distancing, the updated advice on this is more manageable and realistic for a school context.
As you would be aware, the Department of Education continues to monitor the current situation, aligned to the advice from the Health Department. While early signs are promising, this is a changing landscape. Parents have made a commitment to what learning will look like for their children for the next 5 weeks and we understand that this will be reviewed as that date approaches. In the meantime, we appreciate and value the way families are working with us. A reminder that it is very important that where a student is returning to school, we are given at least 24 hours’ notice and that this communication is through our Admin Office. This is essential in helping us plan for and cater for the needs of all students in such complex times.
Some key messages:
- Wellbeing and learning go hand in hand. We are in unusual times that can cause us to feel anxious, worried, sad or stressed. These are quite normal emotions given the circumstances. Aim to take deliberate steps to look after your wellbeing and those around you. This includes getting exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting a good amount of sleep. Maintaining a routine and keeping in touch with family and friends will also help support your wellbeing. Looking out for your wellbeing is a priority for our school, teachers are making contact and checking in regularly. We know you will be more successful with your learning when your wellbeing is in a good place.
- As learners everyone is unique; we learn in different ways and at a different pace to others. Similar to in a classroom at school, students learning at home will not each complete work at the same time and understand things in exactly the same way. Some students will need to undertake a different range of tasks in order to grasp a skill or understand an idea or concept and this is fine.
- For most of us learning is very social; we know many students will be missing the interaction with teachers and other students. Our learning has been designed to make the most of opportunities for discussion, asking questions and getting feedback. Please make the most of opportunities to communicate with teachers, participate in forums, chats and conference calls as these are vital to supporting learning and keeping students engaged and motivated.
Throughout this time, we have been making available through our Schoolzine App and Facebook page, a range of resources and links to support wellbeing. We hope these have been useful. In addition to the considerable contact that teachers have already made with students, Home Group teachers will be undertaking a wellbeing check-in with all students today. This will be through a Microsoft Form with the link also being shared on Facebook as well as the App. This provides us with a very helpful snapshot of how students are travelling at this time and we encourage all students to participate. It will help us to understand what we need to do to continue to support students and families.
For more information see the Wellbeing Check-In Parent FAQs
We are keen to support students with technology problems while Learning at Home. The link provided will assist with common IT problems and support learning in a safe and respectful environment. https://www.education.tas.gov.au/learning-at-home/technology-support/
NBN Support for those Students without Internet at Home:
To help Australians respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, NBN Co is providing up to $50 million to assist phone and internet providers to support low-income family households with school-aged children who do not currently have an active NBN connection at home.
This funding will help phone and internet providers create more affordable offers to connect eligible families during Term 2. More than 20 phone and internet providers nationwide have agreed to participate in this program. The assistance period runs from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020. Each phone and internet provider have their own pricing structure and may still charge a fee for monthly access, data costs and account set up fees.
Phone and internet providers that are ready to connect customers as of 1 May 2020 are:
Activ8me | https://www.activ8me.net.au/ - 132 288
Aussie Broadband | https://www.aussiebroadband.com.au - 1300 880 905
IPSTAR Broadband | https://ipstarbroadband.com.au/products/educationreliefoffer/ - 132 800
SkyMesh | https://www.skymesh.net.au - 1300 759 637
Superloop | https://www.superloop.com - 1800 101 210
Southern Phone | https://www.southernphone.com.au/ - 131464
Flip Connect | https://www.flipconnect.com.au/nbn/ - 1300 354 788
Full details re the NBN support are available: https://www.nbnco.com.au/campaigns/covid-19/education-assistance-package
A reminder that we are all encouraged to download the CovidSafe app. This is an important tool to help stop the spread of Coronavirus in Australia.
You will be pleased to know that we are getting closer to the completion of our redevelopment. While there are some minor tasks to be finished in buildings, the focus is now on landscaping. Wet weather has impacted on our completion date, but it is exciting to walk around the school and see this work taking shape. We expect that landscaping will be completed during the term. This includes a new visitor car park and altered access to the entrance of the school, as well as new landscaping through the entire centre of the school. This central area will connect each of our buildings and provide walkways, gardens, seating and undercover areas that will enhance the whole redevelopment.
A highlight of the start of our term was the opening of our new Café and Common Room. While we are still awaiting furniture delivery, the café is now up and running and is a wonderful modern facility. We can’t wait to share this area with more students when they return.
I would like to welcome Mrs Jo Faulkner who has joined our staff for this term. Mrs Faulkner is currently teaching English and HASS classes while Miss Edwards is on leave.
I think our current circumstances prompt lots of discussion and thinking about what is important to us and what really matters. This quote was shared with principals last week and is certainly an interesting one to ponder and reflect on.
In closing I would like to thank students for the ongoing commitment to their learning and their willingness to adapt to our current situation. Please look after yourselves, keep in touch with us and do the best you can at this time. A massive thank you to parents and families for keeping connected to our school and for your endeavours to support learning from home. Let’s continue to work together and support each other through this most unusual time.
Ms Natalie Odgers