Welcome back to Term 4, 2021. We hope that you managed to gain some respite during the holiday break even if it wasn't at some distant location and adventure. The weather was at least with us for the most part and it seems that Summer is here once again.
So here we are, still in the midst of the ongoing Covid restrictions and the lockdown that has impacted our lives since early August. We are starting to see the end of the tunnel and certainly the road map from the NSW government promises a staggered return to a "covid" normal by November.
This newsletter will attempt to map out what Term 4 will look like (as much as we can predict at this time). The great success of last term was the continuity of learning and connection to community that we achieved at a time of great disruption and uncertainty. We will continue to make this our priority throughout this term as we initially launch with Home learning and then transition back to Face to Face learning throughout the term.
While I would love be welcoming our students back to Face to Face learning at the outset, it seems the Home Learning model is to remain for at least the next two weeks as per recent communication from the CSO (COMPASS October 1st) and NSW Government press releases. At this stage the new return schedule has been moved to a week earlier and we will go with this plan for now and respond should any timelines be changed again. Please note, it remains staggered return as follows:
|Monday October 18th - (Week 3)||Kinder and Year 1 Return to Face to Face|
|Monday October 25th - (Week 4)||Year 2 and Year 6 Return to Face to Face|
|Monday November 1st - (Week 5)||Years 3, 4 and 5 Return to Face to Face|
Other Key Dates
|Friday November 26th - (Week 8)||Staff Development Day|
|Wednesday December 15th - (Week 11)||Last Day for Students|
As was the case last term, all learning will be provided in Home Learning packs that can be accessed via the school website, printed copies from school or posted onto the TEAMS platform for classes from Year 2 - 6. Teachers will maintain daily Teams lessons with students and are on call in responding to emails of enquiry from students and parents to clarify the work. A map of accessing learning and assitance from home is outlined in the below diagram and unpacked further in the attached pdf.
Please note; As classes transition to face to face teaching, the home learning platforms for that class will no longer be operating.
Our school will remain open for those students who NEED to attend because parents are in essential work outside of the home. This will continue to apply to those grades that have not returned to full face to face learning (Weeks 3 and 4).
We rely heavily on and are grateful for parent support in the Learning from Home model that allows teachers the time to focus fully on this mode in place of supervision of attending students. This was supported well last term and we look forward to that same collective support for the first few weeks of this term. We are almost there.
Please note that if a student of an essential worker needs to attend onsite, they will conduct the home learning model here at school under supervision reflective of the numbers in attendance. Staff remain rostered to Work from Home unless required to be part of that supervision. There will be no face to face teaching here at school until the transition back to face to face learning begins in Week 3 for Kindergarten and Year 1 and so on, for Year 2 and 6 in Week 4 and the remaining grades the following week.
Transition Back to Face to Face
Why the staggered return?
Firstly, the staggered return to face to face will allow a controlled return of student numbers under the current Covid restrictions in place at that time. Even when the full cohort has returned, the restrictions will be considerable with regard to cross grade interaction and assembling as a whole school - these will be clarified closer to that time.
In terms of the order in which classes return and when, I am sure there were many different factors considered by those making the plan but the value that we see in the proposed schedule of return is as follows.
October 18th - Week 3 -Kindergarten and Year 1 have been identified as first to return to compensate any lost foundational learning in the core subjects of Literacy and Numeracy. The amount of learning and growth tracked in Kinder and Year 1 is phenomenal. The success of that learning is pivotal and has an ongoing impact on the forward learning in the older grades.
October 25th - Week 4 - Similarly, with Year 2 the following week. While a lot of the foundational learning has been formed by this time in Year 2, consolidation is key for it to become embedded as they transition to the Primary grades. The return of Year 6 at the same time as Year 2 is to ensure they are prioritising the important transition to High School at this time. These last few weeks of their Primary Schooling are vital in supporting high school orientation/transition and positive graduation traditions.
November 1st - Week 5 - The final group to return to face to face learning will be Years 3 - 5. While no less important, these classes have the value of time on their side - they have had the foundational learning in the infant grades and they are not heading straight into high school transition within 5 Weeks of that return.
Priorities upon Return to Face to Face Learning.
Last term, NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) which governs the curriuculums taught in our schools allowed schools discretionary control of the outcomes and content covered within those curriculums due to the impact of Covid. In doing so, it is recognised that the schools need to be able to prioritise the learning and wellbeing of students that is most relevant to the immediate needs of the cohort.
To that end, the staff have met and considered how we best approach the learning priorities upon a return to face to face without overwhelming students. In essence, we are seeking the balance between best learning and wellbeing for all students with as positive an interaction at school as possible, after so long apart. Below is an outline of how we will approach the classroom learning at the time.
What this prioritising allows us to do, is to focus on the foundational skills that are core to any further learning while ensuring we also focus on individual and community wellbeing after such an extended time apart. While there is no specific history, geography or science for the Face to Face weeks, these are integrated into the theme each week. Trying to cover the content in all KLAs in such a short amount of time at this time of year will risk none of them being done particularly well. More importantly, potential gaps in the core KLAs of English and Maths may be missed in the rush to cover other content.
Proposed Term Planner
I am always reluctant to put out a term planner as a set thing because if we have learnt anything over the last 2 months, it is that things can change very quickly. For this reason, I usually maintain the interactive term calendar on COMPASS and the newsletter platform that allows changes to be made and the calendar to be adaptive. However, I want to give parents an outline of the term as we envision it to play out. Please take this as "a plan to make a plan assuming plans can be planned :-)". In other words, we will confirm the term's events in the fortnightly newsletters and maintain any changes on COMPASS at the time. This is just the vision.
Semester Reporting to Parents
Just a quick note regarding the Semester reports that are scheduled to be sent home at the end of Week 8. This will be a modified report similar to the one sent home in Semester 1 last year following the extended lockdown of 2020. A CSO working party is currently working on what this report will look like given the limited opportunity for teachers to make observable judgements of student learning across the last term and any readiness of children to participate in such assessment based judgements upon their return.
What is important will be their current learning and the goals that we can set for them moving forward in their journey. It is hoped that the report will support this alongside opportunities for parents and teachers to meet (online) leading up to or following that report. Parents have always had a fairly instinctive and accurate insight into their own child's learning strengths and challenges. This is more so this semester, because they have supported home leaning and been witness to the ongoing learning that would normally take place in classrooms. We look foward to some very produictive conversations about student learning this term.
I will update parents about the confirmed process regarding reporting once it has been finalised by the CSO Report Writing Committee.
We will continue to keep you updated regarding Covid restrictions and routines as we are given greater clarity in the coming weeks. Home Learning for Week 1 will be posted on COMPASS and the regular channels in the coming day/s. Remember that Monday is a public holiday (hard to tell because we won't be travelling too far from home). Term 4 learning will start Tuesday morning with the "Start of Week" assembly to welcome everyone back, celebrate upcoming birthdays and go through messages for the week (a link will be on COMPASS and on student's TEAMS platform).
We look forward to a great term at Corpus Christi, Waratah. Granted, it will be a Term 4 like no other but I believe with confidence we will have the great moments of celebration and community that we all deserve as we come to the end of the 2021 school year.
Stay Safe and Strong.