Good Afternoon and Welcome to the Week 2 Newsletter.
I am so excited to know that by the next time I sit down to write the Week 4 newsletter, we will have all students back to school and in face to face learning. It has been a very unique 10 week period as we balanced the challenges and triumphs of Learning from Home in a Covid LockdoWn unlike any other. We now are faced with another 2 to 3 week period that is equally important, if not more so. The transition back to face to face learning and the day to day running of a school community in the ever-changing roadmap from NSW government.
Before we move to this next phase, I want to take this final time to acknowledge, thank and celebrate the committed support, flexibility and determination that resulted in the successful continuity of learning for all students. It has been a credit to the teachers, parents and students alike that our own tracking of learning does not yet indicate huge unobtainable gaps in their learning. While ensuring this remains our focus in the next term, we are confident that any losses will be quickly gained. In the meantime, I believe we have witnessed the start of a new generation of lifelong learners. Our vision statement very clearly states that we seek to equip our students for the contemporary world. Something that the last term can attest to. I am privileged to be part of a community in which such great things have occurred.
Before launching into the newsletter itself, I want to reFlect that that the transition period, and as a result, this newsletter, will be a balance between:
- The practicalities, routines and covid restricted practices that will be in place. As well as re-establish general expectations for school and rebuilding face to face relationships.
- Providing support for each student and family's wellbeing as we reemerge from the home into a larger community environment. We want to acknowledge that everyone is feeling varying degrees of anxiety, excitement and even some reluctance about returning to face to face Learning and in doing so we want to confirm our commitment to support each and every one of the students. For some, it may be a quick, positive transition, but for others it may be steady with a few challenges. We are here and we are ready (and we can't wait).
This newsletter hopes to provides information for parents seeking clarification on how we will implement Covid Safe School Operations on the Return to School (Covid Safe School Update), as well as information and resource links to support wellbeing at this time. (Wellbeing Update). We will also map our intentions for learning for the remainder of the term (Teaching and Learning Update). There are also practical matters such as finalising school fee accounts for 2021.
We hope you find the relevant information helpful at this time. We will also use COMPASS to unpack key components of the Covid Safe Return to School plan as they become most relevant.
Have a great Two weeks,
First and foremost, we want to assure parents that while we are excited to be welcoming students back to school, we do this with an absolute commitment to the safety and wellbeing of all members of our community. The school is grateful for the support from CSO and Catholic School NSW as well as our Health and Wellbeing partners to ensure that we are implementing the Covid safe practices that allow us to welcome students back with confidence. We have the systems in place and the responses ready to ensure that safety is ongoing as the term progresses.
Please note that the roadmap for schools from the CSNSW and the Department of Education is guided by different priorities than that of the general NSW Roadmap. This reflects our imperative to keep all community members safe at this time, including young people. You may notice some of the recommendations we are complying with, no longer currently apply in the broader NSW context. This can be frustrating but I believe it is best practice to protect our young people. An example of this is that only essential visitors are allwed onto our site. Sadly, we will not be able to open our school community to parent interaOction at this time. We look forward to a time when we can.
The document attached is a very detailed document outlining the CCW's Covid Safe Return to School plan for parents. We appreciate parents taking the time to read the relevant information in preparation for the return to school for their child/ren. Children, especially in the older grades, will have child-friendly versions of this plan unpacked for them in the classroom upon their return. The document covers the following procedures/practices planned for the Covid safe return to school.
Returning to School
Most children will be very excited to return to school in the next few weeks to see all their friends and teachers. At the same time, a certain degree of worry and fear about returning to school, especially following this lengthy time away from face-to-face learning, and in the current pandemic, is normal for children and young people. Most students find that these worrying feelings decrease over time once back at school and following the school routine. It will be most helpful for children and young people to return to school at the same time as their peers and as outlined by their school.
Anxiety is a natural, and usually short-lived, reaction to a stressful situation. It’s an emotion associated with feelings of worry, nervousness or apprehension.
Parents can help their child or young person who feels worried about returning to school as follows:
- by assisting your child to identify and talk about their emotions
- talking about returning to school and helping them prepare for the transition – What will school look like? What is the same? What might be different? Be empathetic, but also remind your child, gently, that they have done this before after long school holiday breaks
- if bedtimes have drifted later, shift the family schedule during the week or two before school returns to get back in the habit of going to bed and waking up earlier.
- developing a calm morning routine (organise and pack the night before) can enhance predictability and reduce anxiety
- developing and following a goodbye routine for children can be reassuring
- building confidence in your child “I know it feels hard, but you can do it”
- reassuring your child that feeling anxious in new situations is normal and they can do things to help manage these feelings such as mindful breathing, relaxation techniques, meditation, exercise, getting a good night sleep, positive self-talk, talking to friends
- helping them to understand that delaying the return to school is likely to make things harder in the future
If your child is struggling to attend school or if you have any concerns related to their wellbeing, please contact the school. If your child or young person’s anxious feelings persist and remain consistently intense, please make contact with your GP.
The following resource from NSW Department of Education outlines some helpful tips for primary students.
This second resource is from the Australian Psychological Society and expands on helping children transition back to school, especially as school may look a little different in the first instances because of the changes we have implemented in a Covid Safe return.
Further helpful resources can be found at these excellent websites.
Priorities upon Return to Face to Face Learning.
Last term, NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) which governs the curriculum 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 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 positive interactione at school. 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
We want to provide parents an updated outline of the term as we envision it to play out. We will confirm the term's events in the fortnightly newsletters and maintain any changes on COMPASS at the time.
2021 School Fee Accounts
Parents continue to receive their monthly statement for the 2021 School Fees. It is important as we approach the end of the year that steps are taken to finalise these accounts or ensure that the current direct debits will finalise the account by year's end. To that end, we ask parents to consider the monthly statement with a plan to finalise these accounts. If you are not currently paying for this account via a direct debit that will see it reach zero by the end of the year, it is expected that you make arrangements to finalise the account by the 30th November. This can be via a lump sum payment, several smaller payments over the next few months or even set up a direct debit that will see it paid out by the end of 2021. As long as we have some pattern of payment or communication from you about the intention to pay the accounts by November 30 we will not need to proceed with the follow-up steps outlined in the paragraph below.
We will begin specific reminders and follow up letters to those families who have yet to make any payments and have not indicated to us how they intend to finalise these accounts. We understand this is a sensitive issue and more so at this time but it is something we must proceed with in order to finalise our own financial procedures and end of year budget review. Please contact us if there are any concerns about finalising your account between now and the end of the year.
2022 School Fee Billing Processes
- Family Names
- Nominated member responsible for paying the fees. Please note that if you nominate a different person responsible for paying bills, we are only able to make that change once your account is at zero and before the next billing occurs in March 2022. Vanessa will make this a priority in January and February of the new year.
- Family Structure. This refers to all children enrolled in any Catholic School across the diocese and allows us to apply a family discount and ensure the family based building levy is applied only once.
- Intended Payment Method - Bpay, Direct Debit, Lump sum
- Intended frequency of payment - weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc
- Fee Concession - holders of Health Care and Pension cards receive a discount applied to the tuition fee proportion of the school fees account
- Diocesan Pastoral Care Contribution - elect to pay, opt out or pay an alternate amount.