Welcome to the first Newsletter of Term 2,
Firstly, what a crazy way to finish Term 1. It has been an extraordinary 6 weeks and it is sure to keep surprising us for the next few weeks at least. Like most, I found myself planning and adapting to one context in the initial stages and before I finished that, the context changed again and we were onto the next "normal".
My optimistic side tells me we have reached a plateau and can begin to make some real plans for the short and medium term future. We are very much looking forward to returning to Face to Face learning next week for the schedule two days. One of my priorities during this time is to try and normalise our lives as much as possible within a world that is anything but. Returning to face to face teaching and learning is the first step to do this. Below is an attachment to remind parents of how Corpus Christi will stagger the rostered return to Face to Face teaching and learning. It is the same as the one communicated last Thursday via COMPASS
It is important to note that returning to two consecutive days of Face to Face (as opposed to one) enables momentum to be built in the learning process over the two days. More importantly, it will give time for each class to build social interaction and wellbeing activities into the two days rather than just take the one day to drill them with the explicit teaching and learning they require for the week ahead. Essentially, the two day model will provide children with a greater chance to build on friendships and social interaction as well as their learning. (Socially, the first day alone will be all excitement and the second will be consolidating and building on relationships).
The return for two consecutive days is modelled on advice from the CSO who have acted upon advice from the government and health authorities. We have implemented additional procedures to ensure we are meeting the guidelines to ensure a safe and supportive environment for the return to face to face learning in the current context. We understand there may be concerns or hesitation for parents regarding a return to school and we hope some of the routines and clarifications in this newsletter will relieve some of those worries and answer some of the practical questions parents may have.
Priorities in Transitioning Back to School.
Below is the CSO document shared with parents on Wednesday this week about the return to face to face learning in our schools. I have included it as a starting point and then added some Corpus Christi specific notices below that.
Getting Ready to Return
What to Wear
Students are to wear their full school uniform including hat for any days they attend from Monday – Thursday. If children need to attend of Friday because parents attend work outside of the home, they may wear their sports uniform then. Please label ALL uniform items clearly. We cannot tell you how often we pick up an unidentified jacket that has been discarded mid-play as the day gets warmer.
For at least Weeks 3 and 4, parents will be given the choice to send their children in winter or summer uniform dependant on the weather. This will allow parents the time to purchase winter uniform items from the Uniform Shop.
The uniform shop will open again as of this week. At this stage, it will be supervised by one Uniform Committee member and supported by staff members who are already onsite. Parents who need to try on sizes will need to report to the front office. They will be directed to and asked to wait inside the hall (maintaining social distancing) until their turn to visit the shop. At this stage we will only have one parent and related children in the shop at a time. Parents will enter and exit the shop via the hall stage.
Obviously, we understand parents need to try some things on especially if our kindergarten students are looking at the winter uniform for the first time. This is why we are opening to the extent that we can. However if at all possible, we would prefer parents to order the essential uniform items online through the uniform shop email. The uniform committee or staff members will fill the orders that are then paid for on pick up from the front office. The uniform committee is always willing to exchange if the sizing is not quite right.
What to Bring
In the interest of hygiene practices, we are asking if parents could equip the students with some personal items such as their own set of coloured pencils, eraser, scissors and a glue stick (in a pencil case) so they can use these for their learning. We would otherwise have classroom resources available to share but believe it better practice if multiple hands do not handle these shared resources at this time. We, of course, will have them if necessary but thought it might be reasonable to ask parents to send in pencil cases for the time being. Nothing fancy - just the essential, everyday stationary that students might use on a given day.
For similar reasons, we ask that students bring back their computer headphones that they may have taken home with them to complete Home Learning.
The scheduled day of school will be as normal so students are reminded to bring:
- all food and snacks including a water bottle and fruit break.
- devices (if you are a BYOD class including Year 4 if they have them).
- any overdue Library books (we appreciate most of them are overdue as a result of the interuption so we want to invite them all to be returned prior to restaritng borrowing).
- The classroom teacher will communicate what completed tasks are expected to be submitted each week when the students attend their Face to Face days.
At this stage the Canteen will remain closed until we have a more significant proportion of students returning for greater proportion of the week. It will also depend on government and CSO advice regarding the necessity of non-essential adults on school grounds.
How we are keeping our school safe.
Students will be supported to maintain reasonable distance when socially interacting with their peers. While the excitement of seeing each other in person after so long may tempt students to hug and gather closely, we will be gently reminding them to maintain reasonable distance even when greeting. This expectation will be made clear to students as part of our return to school expectations. Essentially we will look at our School rules with a focus on Be Safe and unpack what this looks like during this transition period.
Dropping off and Picking Up Routines
This is the important one. The reasons schools were limited in the first place was not necessarily the student movement but the movement of adults in and around the school site. To this end, we ask parent's support in adhering to some fairly strict routines for pick up and drop off.
- We ask that no parent or carer come onto the school site further than the front office. Even if you need to attend the Uniform Shop, please report to the office and a staff member will direct you straight to the hall where you will wait to enter the Uniform Shop via the hall stage (and not the usual playground stairs).
- A staff member will assist parents dropping off younger children at the front gate. If they are hesitant to walk into school on their own, we will have our senior students/buddies walk with them to the classroom and help them to find a group of peers to play with for the morning. Think of our front gate as a kiss and drop area.
- Similarly in the afternoon, we ask that no parent comes onto the school site to await dismissal. We will assist parents as quickly as possible by having the students ready and assembled in the undercroft at 2.45. We will begin to call names out as soon as is reasonable from that point.
- Parents are asked to observe social distancing recommendations if congregating outside of the school.
- Parents who arrive for pick up by car in the 5 minute zone, please stay in the car and staff will assist students to and into the car.
- We are happy to support parents who might choose to delay pick up by 5 – 10 minutes to avoid the rush. We understand that this may extend the afternoon dismissal period but know it would alleviate some of that pressure at the 2.50 pick-up time.
Cleaning Practices and Routines
At the conclusion of any break time, students will follow a routine of mandatory and supervised washing of hands. One class at a time. While this will slightly delay the transition to classroom learning, we are confident that this expectation will allows students to interact with playground equipment freely when they are playing. Classrooms will have hand sanitiser for continued vigilance during each session.
Teachers have access to disinfectant spray to wipe the desks and common use areas down at least once during the day (if not once a session). Each classroom will be thoroughly cleaned by Rebecca our school cleaner at the conclusion of each day.
Classroom and Playground Routines
As parents would have realised, we have staggered the class returns so that only one class per stage will attending on the two days. The classes will spread out between the two classrooms of that stage to enable greater distancing. The adjoining doors will enable teachers and Learning Support Assistants to move between the two rooms to deliver the face to face teaching and supported task work.
Similarly, the use of different playground spaces will be rostered per stage (as normal) but of course there is only one class per stage. So that when Stage 1 has the soccer field on Monday, it only applies to Year 2 students.
At this stage we will gauge the number of students having to attend on a non-Face to Face day. They will be supervised to complete their home learning activities in the Library and Hub Space. It is possible they will have alternate playground times to that of the full classes, to alleviate the social distancing pressure on the playground.
Still no Assemblies
We are not yet permitted to gather as a whole school but our normal Start of Week assemblies will be modelled in each classroom and we will continue with our online virtual assemblies. Thanks to our leaders we are continuing to explore the best way to do that.
How to explain all this to children
We were sent this Corona Virus Social Story to explain to children why restrictions were put in place in the first phase and why now is a safe time to begin returning to school. A great resource for parents looking for a safe way to talk about this next phase in the process.
Kindergarten Enrolments Open for 2021
A reminder to all parents that we are starting to form our Kindergarten Cohort for 2021. We would normally be organising onsite tours and in June' we'd begin interviews of each family to talk about their education journey so far and begin the conversation about transition to "big school" next year. While the Covid crisis has delayed some of the face to face contact (although I do hope June opens up a few opportunities) we have built up a bank of resource and information for families considering enrolment in our our school for next year. It is located under the Enrolment tab of our school website. We have even made a virtual tour of our school and have provided the link below for anyone who'd like to see our school in the "virtual" world. Many thanks to Steve Newman from the Digital Innovation and Learning Team at the CSO for his assistance in developing this great resource for our school.
Mainly this notice is for existing families with siblings who will need to enrol next year to do so at this time to ensure we are holding the place in the new cohort. It is also a call out to any families wishing to spread the word to the neighbouring families with upcoming Kindergarten students to let them know we are open and accepting enrolment applications at this time. Maybe even direct them to the website with the information packs and video links under the Enrolment Tab.
Celebrating Term 2 Virtual Liturgies at Home and at School
As we take gentle steps towards life with fewer restrictions, let us give thanks to God for all those who have made this possible. We give thanks, that we are able to come together as our school community to
At Corpus Christi we will endeavour to ensure each child and family feels comforted, reassured and supported during the transition to a somewhat normal school life over the coming weeks. Our first priority is to gather as a Catholic community and ensure classrooms are once again welcoming, safe and supportive environments, steeped in quality relationships, for our children.
In classrooms, teachers will focus on our Catholic Identity through the engagement in daily prayer for students, and the prioritisation of Religious Education. Although we can't gather as a whole school for now, class rituals and prayer service will take place to ensure students stay connected to the faith community.
Prayer is a relaxing way for your child to reflect on the day just gone with thankfulness to God and entrusts the believers sleep and dream life to Him. You may find this benefits the whole family and can develop positive emotional health strategies children can use in times of stress or anxiety.
Here are a more few ideas.....
https://www.livingprayers.com/events/good_night_prayer.html#ixzz6LpJzQX1ANight Prayer for Children
As part of my role in Supporting Wellbeing at Corpus Christi I will be providing some information for parents (and students) via newsletters to support children to learn skills on how to be brave, confident and accept themselves for who they are. This term I will include some information and activities on getting to know feelings, all about small and big worries and what to do to help and some information on resilience including tips on how to grow confidence and be brave.
This week, with most learning continuing from home, I thought that I would share two lovely stories and some information for parents/carers on ways to share connection, comfort and care.
Many Ways to Share a Hug is a little story for children that explains some of the changes in our lives due to Coronavirus through the eyes of a hug. Bertrand the Bored and the Imagination Jar is a story that can help children to realise that imagination can win out over boredom every time. Both have a great little activity for children at the end of the story.
The following resource has some great information related to Coronavirus across a number of topics https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/coronavirus-covid-19-guide
Stay tuned for the next newsletter where I will introduce feelings and emotions and provide some optional activities for students.
The Emerging Pedagogy.
One of the realities of adapting to the new normal during the Covid crisis is the emerging pedagogy. For those not familiar with the term pedagogy, it it the name given to how we deliver the learning. In one sense it is how teachers use the tools of their trade to deliver the best possible outcomes for all students. It also refers to the intuitive response to each student's needs as they struggle, work tough and triumph over new leaning by adapting a task to suit and promote best outcomes.
In a classroom, that pedagogy is the natural "ball game" of the teacher and student. So its not hard to imagine the completely new ground that has been broken by teachers, students and parents alike as the "ball game" has been moved to 25+ different home learning settings simultaneously. The pedagogy did a complete turn around where teachers we no longer in the room responding and adapting to struggles that students were facing. It was like we were flying blind as to how each learning experience we had planned was going. Parents undertook the role of troubleshooter and learning support at home. An incredible feat driven by a parent's wish to ensure their child has the best chance of success. We are very grateful for the partnership that emerged between the teacher as designer of the learning and parents as the guider of each child's learning journey. As we return to a mix of Classroom and Home learning pedagogy, I would like to celebrate that partnership that emerged and even maintain it as we build the next normal, post Covid. Parents have always been and always will be the first educators of their child. To have that strong partnership between home and school is an incredibly powerful one for students to witness and benefit from.
The point I want to make and ensure is heard by all is that every home learning setting, every child engaging with their learning and every moment shared between child, parent and teacher has been a success in whatever form it took. Parents may be worried about how much their child completed. On some days they may have elected for wellbeing over the stress of engaging with the learning which was becoming overwhelming. Parents may worry that their children have slipped behind or that what was done in their home differs from what was done in the next. We believe and trust that your decisions as a parent to support your children in their learning during this time was for their benefit and therefore whatever was achieved to whatever level, should be celebrated.
I want assure parents that we will take the opportunity of working face to face with our classes to gauge their achievements, identify their challenges and plan for their next learning steps. We will take the opportunity of working face to face with them to implement the intuitive responses to each child's learning and adapt tasks accordingly. The greatest challenge and the best pedagogy for us as teachers is contained in the following goal; Find where each child is at and meet them there. While this is our ongoing commitment, it is one that has particular relevance in this next phase of learning.
I will leave this discussion with the following visual explanation of how a day's learning is planned and then implemented in reality. It has been a long favourite of mine and something teachers know daily. I am guessing Home Learning parents will find it very familiar too. What I have always loved most about this cartoon is that even when there are dips and challenges in the day, there is always another solution so that the goal is still achieved
The Balance and Dilemma between Face to Face Learning and Home Learning
As explained in the communication posted on Compass last week, the 2 days return to Face to Face teaching next week will be balanced with 3 days of Home Learning that supports or follows up on the Face to Face teaching. It is important to note that the teachers are managing the balance between the two forms of pedagogy and focusing their energies and efforts to that 2 day/ 3 day balance. As discussed above this is a challenge that demands time and focus of everyone.
We are acting under advice from government and health authorities. We have implemented additional procedures to ensure we are meeting the guidelines to ensure a safe and supportive environment for the return to face to face learning in the current context. We understand there may be concerns or hesitation for parents regarding a return to school and we hope some of the routines and clarifications in this newsletter has relieved some of those worries. While we are looking forward to seeing all our students face to face next week, we understand that there may be families with valid, extenuating health reasons to decide against sending students back to school at this stage.
In such cases, we ask parents to let their teacher know of your intent. Until the end of Week 5, your child will still be marked as Flexible (rather than absent). In making such decisions to keep children in the 5 day Home Learning model, we ask that parents understand the workload and expectations on teachers to balance the face to face and home learning. To then also provide 5 days of Home learning on top of that would not always be reasonable. If you contact your child's teacher about your concerns or decision, some steps may be negotiated to support learning to some extent. However, it will be done on each case basis and only if it is reasonably feasible to do so.
Balancing Mid-Week Face to Face Days
We acknowledge the awkwardness of not gaining Face to Face teaching time until Wednesday for Years 1, 3 and 5. Those classes will use Wednesday as Day 1 of a 5 day week that carries over the weekend, to the following Monday and Tuesday before starting the week again the following Wednesday Face to Face; and so on. We believe this will provide the most advantage of Face to Face learning as it launches the necessary learning needed to complete the following 3 days’ work at home. For next week, the Monday and Tuesday at home for Year 1, 3 and 5 is a bit awkward until we establish that cycle. We will support continued learning of this week’s content in a form of revision in order to align Day 1 up to next Wednesday. Once we cover that, the “teaching” weeks will just go from Wednesday – Tuesday during this period.
Another Snapshot of our incredible journey so far....
We would like to share some more of the inspiring and creative home learning journeys we have been on over the last few weeks. Whether it be a class assigned task or one you have devised as a family, we invite everyone to send in those triumphant moments of learning in the form of a photo or a work sample so we can share.
We will include these in the school newsletter each fortnight in the section usually devoted to Classroom Update. Here is our second snapshot of busy home learning! We have been looking for examples of great active learning and finished tasks. Home Learning looks different in every house and our students have been making memories and learning new skills that will stay with them for life!