Good Afternoon everyone,
This interim newsletter is to update parents regarding the current and ongoing impacts of the building project that is underway and will continue at Corpus Christi Waratah this term. While we have brand new student toilets to look forward to at its completion, we now have the inevitable interruptions to routines and procedures that occur in a construction project of this size.
I have always operated under the principle of planning for these changes as best we can in advance, communicating these to all stakeholders and then be ready to adapt to them as they become reality. Some will work and adequately accommodate the impact of the build and some may have to be adjusted as we witness the challenges that may arise as students and teachers attempt to follow them. So today's newsletter is to let parents know what is in place at this point in time. We will continue to update parents via a new section in the fortnightly newsletter that will summarise where the project is up to and if we have changed any of the routines and procedures that we have planned for to date. First and foremost, I have embedded the architect's fly through of the new toilets for your reference in case you have missed it in the previous newsletter where I have shared it. I always find it helpful to begin with the end in mind.
Construction Zone - No Access
As most adults would understand there has been a construction zone created within the school that will contain all work and office space, contractor toilets, equipment and tools for the project. While it is a sizeable area around which we have to work, the safety measure is necessary and clearly designates the WHS responsibilities for our school site. The construction company is responsible for the WHS legalities within the construction zone and I, as always, am responsible for the WHS requirements outside of that zone. The pertinent point is that no student or staff member is to enter the construction zone as it is outlined below. (I will attend weekly site meetings that will require me to enter the zone but I will do so under their supervision.) A map of the construction zone is below followed by a list of the impacts that the zone has on the school. I have included the location of the student toilets as well (but obviously this area will be accessed by students and staff.)
Impact of construction zone.
The list below of the impact of the construction zone will inform the next section of the newsletter where we put new procedures in place to counteract the impact.
- No access to the Primary classrooms through the toilet breezeway.
- No access to the Infants verandah/classrooms from the Year 2 end. Only access is via the Kindergarten stairs on the Eastern end.
- Playground spaces are impeded.
- One handball court zone has been covered.
- Supervision of the Undercroft and access to the front office is obstructed.
- Wet Weather movements will present a challenge in that there is no covered access to the toilets or the undercroft.
Morning Routines/ Drop Off.
The following procedures have been planned for morning routines.
- Students arriving on Platt st will access the school grounds via the Dominic Courtyard gate.
- Students who tend to arrive earlier that the 8.20am to still assemble in front of the office, but access to the playground via that breezeway will be blocked and they will be walked through the Dominic courtyard gate at the start of morning supervision so they can access their classrooms as per the rest of the student body.
- Infant students entering the school via Dominic Courtyard will access their main verandah through their classrooms, straight through to the other side, hang up their bags and move onto the playground.
- Primary students will use the stairs to hang their bags and access the playground through the infant classrooms - straight through to the playground.
- A teacher will be on morning duty in the Dominic courtyard to ensure students access theses routines safely and without delay. As always another teacher will be on the main playground duty for the morning play period.
Moving to Classrooms after each break
N.B Please see section below regarding staggering lunchtimes in addition to the following procedures. The intention of the staggered lunchtime is to minimise the number of students needing to access the toilets and playground spaces at the one time.
1. Students will be given a 5 minute warning bell to cease play and move immediately to the toilet and drinking facilities.
- Year 1 and Kinder students will then move to their classroom verandahs via the Kindergarten stairs, assemble as normal and wait for their teachers.
- Year 2 students will line up in two lines in the undercroft where their teacher will meet and walk with them to their room via the Kindergarten stairs. This is to alleviate the number of students using the stairs during that initial assembling time (with minimal teacher supervision).
- Years 3 and 4 students will also line up in two lines in the undercroft where their teacher will meet and walk them to their room at the final bell via the Eastern end of the school, through the Dominic Courtyard and up the Year 3/4 stairs. This is to alleviate supervision access (or lack there of) around that Eastern end of the building.
- Year 5 and 6 students will wait for the bell and move through the office breezeway, through the front garden into the Dominic courtyard and up the Year 5 and 6 stairs. Given their age, we are allowing the senior students to do this independently. The teachers will place themselves at the stairs/verandah where they can have visibility of the movement through the front garden. If this doesn't work, they too will be required to line up with the younger grades and be moved as a whole class under direct supervision.
- Front gate of the school will remaind closed at all times. Latched but not locked
Moving from classrooms into breaks and during afternoon dismissal
The reality of the change in students movements must be allowed for when timing dismissals and movements to breaks.
At lunch time, the breaks will be staggered (see next article) so access to the playground spaces and the toilets will be alleviated somewhat. Students will be expected to make use of the facilities while there is a minimal number of students on the playground.
At recces, when all students will be accessing the playground at the same time, the infant classes will come out sometime earlier (5 or so minutes) under their classroom teacher's supervision to use the toilets prior to the break - thereby alleviating the demand for the toilets when the primary students come down at the bell.
Similarly, the primary grades must be allowed time to ensure they use the toilets during and at the end of the break before moving up to their classrooms.
Infants classes will simply use the Kindergarten stairs to access the playground for play. They will need to be escorted to the undercroft for dismissal.
Years 3 and 4 will move as a class around the Eastern end of the building leading up to the bell to play or dismissal. They will not be allowed to independently access that blind spot on the Eastern end of the building at any time. The teachers will ensure time is allocated to move the class around that access point prior to the actual bell so there will be no impact on their break time or dismissal time.
Year 5 and 6 students will access the playground via the front garden and through the office breezeway with the two teachers providing supervision. Again, if this doesn't work given poor choices of the students, we will need to revert these classes to use the Eastern end of the building which is a significantly longer journey to access play and dismissal.
All students will assemble in the undercroft for dismissal. The bus line will assemble as best they can at the front of the undercroft while those awaiting pick up will sit in their class lines. St Nick's OOSH will assemble at the back of the undercroft. As you can imagine this will be an intense time and in such a small area, it will be important for students to do this quietly (if not, silently) so the teachers on the gate duties can communicate names back to the undercroft. Students will be reminded to respond immediately and not to dawdle to the pick up point as this delays the next car and pick up. We will still use both gates (Platt and Alfred St) for dismissal.
We are going to trial the staggering of lunch each day in order to alleviate the number of students accessing the playground for play as well as the toilets and drinking facilities on that play's completion. The staff have re-zoned the supervision areas allowing visibility for some of the potential blind spots created by the construction zone.
We were unable to stagger recess in a similar way due to not enough staff available to be on duty across the split times and the timing of the split would push the afternoon sessions too close to the dismissal time. For recess, we have plans in place to allow infants to get out a little earlier to use facilities and have primary time at the end of recces to do the same. This will at least alleviate the toilets and drinking facilities.
The following is an outline of how the staggered lunchtimes and supervision will work.
Primary and Infants
Asphalt - used for active play including basketball, handball nd potentially cricket (although space my limit this especially at the favoured shot from the batters is usually straight into where the construction zone is- we can see how it goes).
Top field.- Active games with ball (NO KICKING)
Lower Fields - (when ready) Active Games with ball (KICKING allowed below shoulder height)
Fitness Field - Active Running Games, climbing, hide and seek, 44 homes etc.
Equipment/ Sand Pit- Active Play
Dominic Courtyard - Imaginative Play
Undercroft - Passive Play - no active movements. This is a cool spot. A respite from the sun but it needs to be used for passive games. We will continue to negotiate which games are suitable for this area. Previously students have played hoops and skipping here but these can prove too active for the space. We have a few ideas from the sports/ activity cupboard that are passive and may prove popular.
Library - board games, creative pursuits and reading.
Below is a map the playground zones which we will use with the children to help them understand the different zones and when they will be open. It is important we only open up each zone when we have the supervision available to ensure it is used safely and positively. Poor choices and concerning patterns of accidents and incidents will force us to limit the use of some areas. The approach between teachers and students will be that the more we can rely on the students to use these spaces positively, the more we will leave them open (and vice versa). We will spend time on Tuesday in each class to have an age appropriate discussion on playground expectations and the impact the building site will have on normal playground interaction. In making sure this is clearly understood by the students we are planning for successful playground use across the whole term.
Using the toilets during Classtime
With the location of the temporary toilets and the additional distances needing to be traverse in order to use them, there will be a focus on expecting students (particularly the older ones) to use the facilities during break times and to ensure their water bottles are filled for the session. The good news is that the infants have it a little easier with their classrooms being on the same level and the toilet building being visible from the classroom. Mind you that changes again if we have wet weather (see paragraph below)
However, it is the primary grades that will be presented with the most challenge in this regard. The "habit" and ease in which students have previously "ducked" down to the toilets or refilled their drink bottles during class time will no longer be reasonably allowed. If necessary, absolutely. But we will be expecting students to use the facilities during the break. The longest learning period is the morning at 2. 5hours, for which we will make some allowances. After the morning session, the primary learning sessions will be 1 hour and 1 hour which is a reasonably short time to not have to use the toilet, if they did so during the break.
There is a single toilet available on the Primary level but this will only be able to be used with adult supervision. Ideally, it will be best if students rose to the challenge of attempting to time their toilet use with the breaks they are provided. Please note; no child needing to go to the toilet will be denied - we will however be having conversations with that child if that habit continually interrupts their learning, especially now that the amount of time it will take will be doubled.
Sever Weather Conditions
As always, Term 4 presents us with some severe weather conditions with the inevitable heat waves and summer storms/rains. For the record, we treat severe heat waves the same as wet weather and the students remain in the air conditioned classrooms for their break times.
Parents may have already noted on the site map that we have limited covered access to the temporary toilets and moreover, access to the undercroft will be through the weather when it rains. There is very little we can do to avoid this so to that end, can I remind parents to ensure students have rain weather gear for such a situation. This will especially be needed during dismissal because if it rains throughout the day, we call wet weather duty and the students remain in the classroom (but again, they will still need to use the toilets).
As much as I pray for a good wet spring and summer to break this drought, I am praying for it to occur outside of the school hours (one can always hope). We will take each situation slowly and plan for extra time to get the students ready should dismissal become rain drenched which it has been known to do. We remain on high alert if the rain drenching is in the form of a severe thunder storm because that will only add to the stress. Rain is one thing, thunder, wind and lightning are another. If there are any changes made in advance of the onset of a severe storm, I will be using the compass app to alert parents to those changes, whatever they may be.
Noise and Dust Pollution
There is no denying we will be in a construction zone and the first week of term will perhaps be the worst as the final demolition takes place. While the construction company has agreed to attempt the majority of saw cutting (through cement and brick) prior to the start of school, they will none the less still need to be jack hammering throughout the day. This part of the project is planned to be completed by the end of Week 1 and after that it will be a lot less intrusive. For Week 1, Year 6 will relocate to the Hub as they are directly above the construction noise and it is travelling straight through the floor. Year 2 has a buffer of the teacher resource room between their classroom and the toilet space. It is packed with books which seem to be doing a good job in absorbing the worst of the noise.
Teachers in all classes will control the classroom environment with air-conditioning (instead of using windows and doors) in order to minimise the impact of the noise in the learning space. Presumably they would only use the air con when the heat demands it but for this term, we will be using it to insulate the noise and shield from the dust as well. We have attempted to have the library open at lunch as much as possible throughout the week (Mon - Thurs) for students who wish to be inside as a result of the heat, noise or even dust during lunchtime - although we expect the dust to be not too much of a problem after this first week of term.
I appreciate there is a lot in this newsletter and thank you for taking the time to read it. I realise, of course, parents are still restricted from being onsite due to Covid so you might wonder why i though it useful for parents to know this. Truth be told, I write this in the hope that parents may take the time to unpack with their children some of these changes and the reasons for them to support the same messages in the classrooms. Together, I believe we can put in procedures in advance that will minimise dramas and mishaps as the term progresses.
I also want to thank parents for their efforts in organising alternate supervision for their child tomorrow given I called the Urgent Pupil Free day. As I said on Friday when I announce it, it was the last thing I wanted to do but it was our only choice given the situation with the temporary student toilet block not arriving or being installed last week. Once this is done tomorrow, which I have every confidence it will be now that I have been forced to take such drastic action, I will confirm on COMPASS so that parents are secure in knowing we are ready for Tuesday.
A reminder that we will provide minimal supervision for students whose parents were unable to arrange care and they will be using the toilet near the canteen for the day. Thank you for using this as a final option.
We will continue to update parents about the project in the coming newsletters. In a perfect world, the project is due to finish at the end of Week 7. Fingers crossed it is smooth sailing from here (again, we can hope can't we?).