Michael Gray, Principal
Dear St. Joseph’s School Community,
In this new reality for us all, we do have the opportunity to pause and reflect on how we have been living, what is really important and what may we change to enable a fruitful transition back to the new normal! While walking our dog on the beach this last week, Sue my wife asked me, “What would you change at school going back after this pandemic experience?” It was a great question to which I have been reflecting on since. In my deliberations for our school, I share the following reflection.
In considering new realities a hopeful disposition was shared by Pope Francis. He recently said, “God is faithful, always faithful, for he cannot deny himself, he continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and he is always ready to forgive and ready to start afresh.” (Pope Francis, Easter Message 2020.)
Just listening to these words must surely give us hope. It is a time for us to look within ourselves to see if we are taking the right direction in our lives and to understand the movements of the heart. Are we more motivated by self or by our love of each other and our God?
We cannot go on doing the things we used to – the very ground is shifting under our feet. Are we ready to tread new ground and make those necessary changes to create something new? Change is not just a climatic incident but can appear overnight if we let it. Change is relative to time; it is for those who desire improvement in their lives. No change can take place unless you allow it.
As we manoeuvre this winding path, we are called to make decisions that could affect our whole lives and the lives of those around us. Reflecting and spending time in prayer helps us acknowledge who we are in relation to God and offers us the opportunity to change. We are called to leave our old ways and follow Jesus, trusting in Him, as the disciples did. We cannot tread a new path without letting go of the old, and so we must be prepared to let go of anything that gets in the way.
Our faith story highlights the importance of renewal, change and letting go. Ash Wednesday and the Easter story marks the beginning of our faith journey through the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus to bring about change, moving away from our normal way of life and making a new start to share in the lives of each other, our community, our world and importantly ourself. A change of heart can make all the difference, Dream Big!
Transition to full on-site school learning
Last Friday we sent home the first communication of the plan for all Victorian schools and St. Joseph’s, in particular, to transition from the off-site remote program to full schooling on-site for everyone.
These arrangements are again shared in today’s newsletter for your information. As always if you are unsure, or have a specific question about your families needs or arrangements please contact the school office for any clarifications.
As well as the Learning and Teaching the other key advice we need to enact is around the health and wellbeing of all. To comply with social distancing, health hygiene and adult gathering several other procedures will need to support everyone’s safety. Again we are acting on the advice of our Chief Medical Officer, Victorian Premier, Victorian Education Department and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.
Our intensive, focused cleaning will continue this term.
Hand hygiene for all, social distancing for adults, group gatherings (everyone) and temperature testing will continue.
Due to school fencing security support, students can again use our playground equipment. Access after school will not be available to the public which helps with clearning.
With three large oval play spaces, students can have a similar lunchtime.
Student drop-off and pick-up
Morning Drop Off; school ground access from all normal gates from 8:30 am. (Queens Road, Loop Area and Bromfield Street). The school car park is reserved for staff only.
Evening Pick-up; to spread the number of people gathering to collect students after school we have allocated families to one of only three collection points, (Queens Road, Loop and Bromfield Street Tennis Court). With this arrangement we do not have to split pick-up times. Families can be collected in the same place at the same time and we spread the numbers.
Importantly if you are also waiting at St. Joseph’s for older siblings to arrive from another college or activity students will need to be in cars; not playing while waiting.
Parents/Guardians will need to stay in the car, students will walk to you and as students arrive alight to the car and move off when it is safe to do so. This system started last week and thus far has worked well. I thank our PSA Chairperson (Adrian Benson) for the time we spent talking about this procedure last week.
Students walking, riding, skating or bussing will continue to arrive and exit as normal. Noting in talking with many parents our new uniform winter coat and outstanding bike path access make this a great option for everyone.
Adjusted FOUNDATION drop-off next week only: Tuesday 26th - 29th May 2020
As all would be well aware our Foundation students only had 30 days last term over an eight week period, with Wednesday at home a short first school week of the term and then the pandemic closing off the school in the last school week in Term 1.
Thus to help their transition back to school from home next week Foundation parents/guardians are encouraged to park in the Aquazone Car Park and walk your child to their classroom door. Parents will not be allowed to enter the classrooms. Learning Support staff and classroom teachers will be present to help this process. It will be very important for parents to talk through this process with your child; you will be dropping them at the door, saying your goodbyes and exiting swiftly.
This will be an important and critical step to be managed calmly and clearly. I am very confident this process will support our young students and families feeling of security; however, it will be critical for your child to know you are leaving straight away. This process can happen over next week only week. After the first week students will then resume to a drop as per all other students. Students will need to be in their school winter uniform and carry their own bag. If the bag could be too heavy please bring back school work over the week.
Please note this is a suggested option. Your child may be independent enough to enter school independently and so encouraged to do so.
General Classroom Adjustments as we return
I will also note the advice we have received from our authorities that the rule of 10 students in a classroom will not apply from next week. Our normal class average of students per classroom is currently 25 students; this will again apply for the return to school program. The authorities have also advised that social distancing in classrooms will not apply but the distancing rules will apply for all adults on site. Not gathering in large numbers also applies, this includes such programs of assembly etc.
I very much appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we all again adjust to the new reality. Your support, patience and help in ensuring we are all safe, happy and importantly can focus on our core business; student learning in this time of great challenge.
Michael Gray. Principal.
To support all school staff to prepare for the transition to onsite schooling, Monday 25th May will be a student-free closure day for all staff. Therefore, there will be no off-site remote program or on-site care and supervision program on this day for students. There will also be no teacher-student home communication on this day.
The school closure day that was previously advertised for Friday 29th May will now be a normal school day with Foundation, Years 1 and 2 onsite for their learning and Years 3-6 studying at home via the remote learning program.
The school closure day previously advertised for Tuesday 23rd June for Parent Teacher Interviews will now be a normal school day for all year levels.
While the Chief Health Officer has advised that students will not be required to maintain physical distancing at school, there will be a number of important changes to our school operations, consistent with health advice to all schools; especially in relation to movement, gathering and adult social distancing.
The following will apply until further notice.
Getting To School In the Mornings, including Car Drop-off
As we return to full schooling families and students can now resume back to normal arrangements. That is riding, walking and scooting using city paths and school access gates from Queens Road and Bromfield Street. Car dropping students in the Loop. Please note access gates will be open from 8:30am daily with supervision commencing at 8:40am.
A reminder a healthy way to arrive at school in the morning if a car is required is to drop your child/ren at a safe place several blocks away from school. Your child/ren can then walk some distance. This has three benefits; fewer cars around the school, participation in low impact exercise for your child and fresh air for us all to enjoy.
Getting Home from School In the Afternoon including Car Pick-up
With the return to full schooling and the government requirements for school site access, all families travelling home via car will be allocated their student collection location-based on family surname. This procedure has already commenced for the current on-site students.
- A to G, collection from School Loop
- H to M, collection from Queens Road
- N to Z, collection from Bromfield Street Tennis Centre
Visitor and Parent General School Access
Restrictions will continue on parent and visitor access to the school site for anyone other than immediate school staff, educational support specialists, allied health staff and the students themselves.
A key issue moving forward in this new COVID-19 reality will be the way parents and school communicate; these are also under review. These arrangements will be shared with everyone once finalised.
We understand that some students, families and staff may feel anxious about this move back to classroom teaching and learning. I can assure you that this decision has been taken on the basis of the best health advice available to our state.
Happy Birthday to children celebrating their birthday this week.
Zack Smith, Callum Eggins, Archie McGrath, Paddy Sell, Spencer Kenna, Ruby Nelson, Ivy Sobey, James Wearne, Francesca Di Cesare and Henry Jones.
Congratulations to the 36 students who have registered for the Confirmation Sacramental Program.
In coming weeks we will provide more information regarding the program and let you know when parents can come into the school to collect the supporting materials.
Any queries should be directed to Leanne at the Parish on 55612 2231.
Over the past few weeks the Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 students have been learning colours in Japanese.
To support student's understanding of the Picture Book"Brown Bear, Brown Bear" in Japanese, it is favourable if they have heard the story first in English! Here is a link to our own Principal, Mr Gray, reading the story.
Now we can turn our daily fitness into potential prizes!
Take part in this Victorian School vs. School e-challenge for the chance to WIN!
Just enter your results by first scrolling down the list of schools until you select - St. Joseph's Primary School, Warrnambool! Students can complete the tasks multiple times and continue to enter their results.