Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

    Article by Mr Michael Exton

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

    New update posted by Annette Chidzey, Deputy Principal (Learning & Teaching) 2nd April 2020

    Saint Ignatius College has been monitoring advice from the Victorian Health Department, DFAT Smart Traveller and the World Health Organisation with regards to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). While we understand that there is a lot of information available, we will endeavour to keep you informed regarding the College’s approach.

    This article will be updated regularly to ensure parents/guardians are kept informed of any new advice or changes as matters arise.

    Mr Michael Exton  Principal

     

    Update 7th April, 2020

    Dear Parents, Students and Staff Members,

    Given this morning’s announcement by the Premier about arrangements for Term Two schooling, the Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV) has provided advice that our College will be following from the start of Term 2 2020.

    While this preliminary contact is relatively brief, more detailed information will be provided via a second email from me on Thursday 9th April once further consultation has occurred. In this update, I will outline specific advice related to Term 2 curriculum delivery and VCE

    arrangements in keeping with today’s advice to Catholic schools.

    Term 2 arrangements

    On the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV) has advised that all Victorian Catholic schools are required to transition to remote and flexible learning arrangements for Term 2. Given this advice, our students will commence remote learning from Wednesday 15th April. (Teachers and Education Support Officers will commence work for the new term on Tuesday 14th April.)

    The Chief Health Officer has advised that these arrangements should remain in place for the duration of Term 2 and will then be reviewed.

    Given the government objective act to slow the spread of coronavirus, schools have been asked to communicate to students and parents that all children who can learn at home must learn from home.

    Schools are able to make exceptions for children of parents who cannot work from home, and vulnerable children.

    Parents will be informed via email on Thursday 9th April about how they can access this supervision at our College and what arrangements we will put in place for this.

    VCE update

    The Victorian Premier and Minister for Education have also announced the following changes to VCE studies.

    VCE students will still receive an ATAR, but there will be a number of adjustments to the academic timetable for VCE and VCAL students:

    • The GAT will move from June to October or November
    • End-of-year exams will be postponed until at least December
    • School-based assessment tasks will be reduced where possible to relieve some pressure on students as they move to remote and flexible learning arrangements
    • Universities will be asked to delay the start of the 2021 university year to account for the impact of coronavirus on senior secondary students.

    VCE study scores will continue to be a combination of school-based assessment and external exams.

    VCAL students will have more time to complete their courses and this will be consistent with the revised dates for the VCE.

    The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) is also examining a compressed end-of-year exam schedule – including slightly shortening each exam – in recognition of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

    A small number of students undertaking VET may have the award of their VCE or VCAL delayed until the beginning of 2021, so that they can complete mandatory practical or workplace learning requirements – ensuring they are not disadvantaged by the lack of hands-on practice.

    Making this transition to remote learning and teaching is understandably going to be challenging for us all. Continuity of learning is vitally important. We have been planning for this transition and are well-prepared. There is, however, still a great deal that we are going to learn over the coming weeks as we, along with other schools, implement remote learning & teaching.

    Thank you in anticipation of your support for and understanding of, the need to move to remote learning and teaching. It is important that we work together in partnership to maintain learning for our students under these tough and trying times for all in our community whilst also ensuring the health and safety of all members of our school and the wider community. We look forward to the time when school resumes on campus but until that is possible, please be assured that we will do all we can to support our school objective to work together to maintain our students’ ability to learn in changed circumstances.

    In closing, I reiterate that we will provide families with important information this Thursday to further support the transition to learning from home.

    Yours faithfully,

    Michael Exton  Principal

     

    Update 6th April 2020

    Dear Parents/Guardians,

    As you are well aware, these are challenging times as we work together as a school and wider communities to manage health concerns due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    A related and equally undeniable concern is the financial hardship that families may experience due to a variety of factors somewhat outside their control.

    In this letter, I especially want to convey to our school community the College’s response to the financial hardship that some families may experience as a result of job loss or loss of income due to the current pandemic situation.

    I am sure you agree that stability in education for our valued students (and their families) is crucial at this unpredictable time. For that reason, I want all of our students to be able to remain at the College and not have to leave because of a deterioration in a family’s financial situation due to the pandemic. My hope is that we will all get through this period of stress and uncertainty and in doing so I want all of our families still part of our school community when we come out the other side of this concerning situation.

    Should you find yourself struggling to meet school fees because of the pandemic, please know you can contact the College to obtain fee relief. We will confidentiallydiscuss your circumstances with you and come to a mutually manageable arrangement.

    To facilitate this, we have set up two ways you can contact us:

    1. Phone the College Reception on 5251 1136 and

    i) if a receptionist answers, mention you would like to discuss fee relief and leave a contact number for a Finance Officer to return your call;

    ii) if you get the answering service, leave your name and contact number with a brief message and a Finance Officer will return your call;

    2. Send an email message to fees@ignatius.vic.edu.au with a brief explanation and your contact details to which a Finance Officer will respond.

    I currently have no update about whether we will be returning to school for the new term yet. However, we continue to plan for the likely non-return and the move to remote learning for our students. At this stage, I plan to write again on Thursday 9th April after our next Executive meeting where we will assess the situation in regards to how we commence term two.

    In the meantime, I wish all families good health and an enjoyable time together over the remainder of the holiday break. In support of the Victorian Government’s messaging at the moment, “Stay safe, stay at home,” “When out and about, maintain social distancing” and

    “Thank you to everyone working to keep us safe.”

    Best wishes,

    Michael Exton  Principal

     

    Update 2nd April 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    This current holiday period is a very important time to build in rest and relaxation in preparation for the upcoming term and we encourage all students to make sure that they take this opportunity to become refreshed and re-energised.

    While these are undoubtedly uncertain times, teachers and learning support staff at the College, as well as wellbeing officers, have all been busily preparing to be able to deliver effective learning remotely if that becomes necessary when school is due to recommence.

    For our students undertaking Senior certificates such as VCE and VCAL as well as VET subjects in association with both these pathways, we wish to advise that we have been very closely monitoring the information provided by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [VCAA] as well as authorised providers and can confirm their direction to us that no student will be disadvantaged as a result of this unexpected and unpredictable health pandemic caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Exactly what this advice entails we are yet to have explained to us, so we await further direction and will communicate that to you as soon as it becomes available to us.

    While this period of uncertainty may understandably be raising individual and family anxiety, we wish to reassure you that at the school level we have plans in place should we need to conduct remote assessment for senior students from the start of next term. These will be provided to you and our students prior to the start of Term 2 on April 15th so that we can continue these certificates as effectively as possible in the current circumstances.

    In the meantime, we encourage students to check any coursework and holiday tasks published on Canvas, our interactive learning platform and to contact the relevant teachers with any specific enquiries related to that particular subject.

    As parents and guardians, we ask that you check to ensure that functioning internet access and connections are in place to enable remote learning to continue for all students at your home when we are directed to move to that form of curriculum delivery.

    We ask that you help your daughter or son to have a desk or quiet space where they can work during the day while at home and where any interactive discussions may take place.

    Our VCE, VCAL and WAFE Coordinators will be in touch with you and your daughter or son to advise you of specific updates with regard to VCE, VCAL and VET respectively at the earliest opportunity and together we will proceed to continue senior studies to the best of our collective ability.

    For all other students in Years 7-10, the school will provide clear directions as to how remote learning is to proceed across the timetabled classes prior to the start of Term 2 to ensure that they, too, are ready to learn from home if that becomes necessary.

    In closing I pray that as this challenging time, both the holidays and the upcoming Easter celebration provides you all with time to stay healthy and safe, to reflect and to experience peace and reassurance.

    Yours faithfully,

    Annette Chidzey  Deputy Principal (Learning & Teaching)

     

    Update 23rd March 2020 

    Dear Parents, Students and Staff, 

    As mentioned in my earlier letter today, I now provide further details by way of keeping our community fully informed especially with regard to preparing for likely future remote student learning as well as clarifying some of the issues resulting from yesterday’s National Cabinet meeting.

    To prepare the College community for the possible transition to student remote learning, the College Executive shares with you the attached plan that includes details about how staff, students and parents can provide support to deliver online learning. It outlines roles and responsibilities for staff, students and parents if and when remote learning is introduced after the upcoming Term 1 holidays.

    Please note that while the College is prepared to commence remote learning, it won’t always be perfect and we will learn as we go. Our plan includes ways parents and students can be guided as to whom questions should be directed as well as specific expectations associated with all involved in this online learning experience.

    For the remainder of this week, teachers are planning and preparing for the likely transition to flexible and remote learning in the anticipation that it may have to be implemented at the start of Term Two. The College Leadership Team and our Education Support Staff are conducting their routine work throughout this period. 

    Please be reassured that while students, especially senior students may have been allocated some preparation work over this period, remote learning has not yet commenced and therefore students are not expected to be engaged in such learning at this point. 

    The College Office will remain open as usual for the remainder of this week and then, as is always the case, during the Term One holidays as well. 

    Meanwhile, the College Leadership team continues to meet regularly to monitor the evolving situation and manage the College’s response. At Thursday’s Board Meeting, I updated the Board about our Management Plan and was grateful for Board members’ advice and support. 

    Can I please remind our College community that if a staff member or student at our school is a confirmed case or close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, that I am notified immediately by contacting the College Office.

    With our students finishing the term today, I wish them all the best for the break knowing it will be very different to what they are used to. With social-distancing measures, isolation and anxiety around this very challenging and concerning situation, student wellbeing will need to be monitored. I am sure that parents will be very mindful of the need to help reduce their daughter’s/son’s anxiety and promote her/his health and wellbeing. 

    Our Student Wellbeing Team has identified the following information which may be of help to parents: 

    How parents can support their young person:

    - Australian Psychological Society information 

    2020 COVID-19 APS Information Sheet 1 2020 COVID-19 APS Information Sheet 1 (94 KB)

    - World Health Organization (WHO)

    2020 COVID-19 WHO Information Sheet 1 2020 COVID-19 WHO Information Sheet 1 (49 KB)

    Mental health and wellbeing support and advice for students and parents:

    Lifeline: https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
    Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

    Support specifically for students:

    - Headspace fact sheet 

    2020 COVID-19 Headspace Information Sheet 1 2020 COVID-19 Headspace Information Sheet 1 (96 KB)

    - Kids Helpline support: https://kidshelpline.com.au/coronavirus#wellbeing

    Our Wellbeing Team will also provide further information about online/telephone counselling that is available from agencies including KidsHelpline, Eheadspace, and Beyond Blue as it becomes available. Our Student Wellbeing Canvas page is accessible to students who are seeking general guidance on aspects of wellbeing and mental health. In addition, our Wellbeing Team will forward information on student self-care and ways to remain occupied during the break, including what supports will be available from our wellbeing staff in the instance of remote learning being introduced in Term 2.

    I expect that Term 2 will begin on Tuesday 14 April, which is a student-free day, with students scheduled to return on Wednesday 15 April.

    Any changes to these dates will be guided by the ongoing advice of the Chief Health Officer, and will be communicated to parents.

    The Department of Health and Human Services has a number of resources on its website, which explain the virus, detail risk-reduction practices and behaviours, and answer frequently asked questions. These are available at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

    You can also find information about Catholic education’s response to COVID-19 at www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Coronavirus-information-for-parents.

    In the meantime, I thank all in our community for your ongoing understanding as we seek to keep our school communities safe.

    Further updates will be provided if there are additional changes.

    If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the school directly.

    Take care and thank you.

    Yours faithfully,

    Michael Exton  Principal

     

    Update 23rd March 2020

    Dear Parents, Students and Staff members, 

    As you are most likely aware, last night the National Cabinet announced additional steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These steps included today being the last day of term one classes for Victorian students. 

    Currently classes for Term Two at our College are scheduled to commence on Wednesday 15th April 2020. There is doubt over whether schools will run classes on campus from the beginning of Term Two. We are planning for remote learning if students will need to remain at home. Teachers will deliver lessons using several online learning platforms, including ‘Canvas’ (Learning Management System) and provide important updates via ‘Xuno’ (Student Management System) as needs be. I will let our school community know as soon as possible if students will remain at home instead of returning to school from the beginning of next term. 

    The CECV has provided direction that staff members will use the next four days for planning and preparation for the likely transition to flexible and remote learning. 

    I ask all students to take home all items they will need for remote learning in case they are required to remain home for an extended period. This should include their laptop, charger, all textbooks and folios. No important items should remain in student lockers. Parents of students who are absent today may contact the office to arrange pick-up of these items across the remainder of this week. 

    Senior Students are always expected to undertake some work and study during term breaks. With classes finishing today, senior students will be expected to use some time during the term break to continue with their studies. Accessing Canvas and monitoring Canvas announcements as well as their emails will be very important. Teachers will provide guidance and assistance via these online ways of communication. 

    I continue to be very grateful for the outstanding efforts of our dedicated staff to ensure the continuity of learning, support for student health and wellbeing, support for each other and preparation for remote learning. 

    Well done to our tremendous students who in the face of very uncertain and challenging times, continue to do their best with continuing their ongoing studies while supporting each other. 

    Thank you to parents for your support. This has indeed been and will continue to be a very challenging and stressful time for families. I wish you and your family strength, health and wellbeing as you confront the challenges that the weeks ahead hold. 

    There will be another communication from me later today with more details about our plans for remote learning. As you would understand, I am expecting more advice from the CECV that will provide clarification around many of the issues that have occurred since last night. I will provide further updates when new information is available, or decisions have been made.

    Finally, as a school community, we need to support each other and the wider community. We must keep up to date, follow the advice of authoritative sources and comply with requests made of us by our governments and health authorities. As a school we will do all we can to continue to support our students’ learning and wellbeing.

    Thank you.

    Take care and blessings.

    Yours faithfully,

    Michael Exton  Principal

     

    Update: March 18th 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    I write to update you about the College’s management of the current concerns about the Coronavirus situation.

    Thank you for your ongoing support to protect the safety and wellbeing of all of our students by addressing the matters raised in my letter (dated 13/03/2020) and in particular, discussing personal hygiene practices with your daughter/son.

    We have no reported cases of the virus and remain alert with a management plan in place that we will adapt to the situation as necessary. Please ensure that if your daughter/son is a confirmed case or a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, that you contact me asap.

    The rapid evolution of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak continues to be a challenge for everyone in education.

    I am aware that it has caused concerns for parents, staff and students.

    Because the health and safety of our school community is our highest priority, the school’s decision to stay open is based on advice from the Australian and Victorian Chief Medical Officers and relevant education authorities including, Catholic Education Melbourne.

    Currently, the advice of Dr Brett Sutton, Victorian Chief Health Officer, is that ‘pre-emptive school closures are not likely to be proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time’.

    When advice from the Chief Medical Officers changes, we will communicate those changes to our school community.

    We continue to monitor developments actively and are working closely with the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV).

    The CECV is partnering with the Victorian Department of Education and Training, and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to ensure our practices reflect current advice and support the needs of our school community.

    I am receiving regular updates from the CECV and ensuring school leaders and staff are aware of coronavirus reporting and management practices. They are well-placed to respond as circumstances change.

    The school’s leaders and teaching staff are committed to ensuring that learning remains available to students as part of all students’ entitlement to access the Victorian curriculum.

    We have plans in place to support students to learn from home if a school closure eventuates but, while we remain open, the emphasis will be on the learning and teaching currently in place in the classroom. As you are aware, we are in a very good position to provide for remote learning through technology and in particular, CANVAS.

    In addition to the list of school events and activities that have been cancelled or postponed, the Year 10 Work Experience Program scheduled for the last week of term two has been cancelled. The Year 10 students will attend their usual classes during this week. Structured Workplace Learning for Yrs 11 & 12 VCAL students has been suspended, until further notice. The students participating in this program should attend school instead of the workplace. Parents of VCAL students affected by this change will receive a letter about this via ‘Caremonkey.’

    I visited many classes yesterday to find classes were functioning very well, and to their credit, the students were continuing to be actively engaged in their learning. The smallest daily student attendance over the last week was 80%.

    Please contact the school directly to discuss educational continuity options.

    Should you have any concerns relating to school operations, or the health and safety of students, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Yours faithfully

    Michael Exton  Principal

     

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