18 March 2020

Today I would like to speak a little about the specific situation at Richmond as it stands, to assist parents in making decisions for their children.

First I would like to thank the Richmond community which has been overwhelmingly supportive of us through unprecedented times.  Many thanks too to Kylie (School Board Chair) and Paula (P&C President) for their liaison and sound decision making which supports the school.

I would also like to recognise the efforts of my staff.  I feel that school staff are front line workers in this crisis.  They are doing everything they can think of every day to safe guard our 420 children. They have their own health concerns, families and anxieties but are managing this situation professionally and admirably. I know from the many positive emails we have received that you join me in thanking them.

This notwithstanding, we are obviously faced with continuing issues as the situation evolves.  One of these is the difficulty of sourcing cleaning and hygiene supplies – we have no magic source. At the moment we are managing, but supplies are dwindling and my business manager spends hours tracking supplies down. Should you have hand gel that you are able to donate to your child’s class it would be appreciated.  Similarly it is a good idea for children to have personal hand sanitisers.  We have plenty of soap and children are using that regularly.

Bearing in mind information about social distancing, we continue to cancel gatherings. This now also includes:

Running club

Board and P&C meetings

Parent meetings

School Banking

Kindy Easter concerts

All excursions

Chorale

Please could I also request that parents limit the amount of time they spend on the school site, try to drop at the gate where age appropriate, refrain from entering classrooms or touching surfaces and avoid gathering in the quad.  In this way we can limit the amount of traffic through our main areas.

We have also reviewed a number of classroom practices including:

Focussing on non-contact sports during physical education, such as running, to avoid the need for shared sports equipment or close contact

Focussing on body percussion in music, rather than shared instruments

Encouraging the use of personal drink bottles, not bubblers

Explicitly teaching the principles of social distancing in physical education lessons

Offering emotional support to manage student anxiety

Using individual tongs and bowls for kindy fruit time

Keeping doors open where practical, to avoid touching handles

Yesterday we invited a St John Ambulance officer to audit our medical room and procedures and to give us a report so that we are implementing best practice.

I have again reviewed our cleaning schedule and prioritised certain areas based on Health Department advice. Cleaners have been advised about best practice.

Of course all hygiene procedures as described in previous updates are continuing.

Today 74 children (almost 20%) are absent from school. This is for a variety of normal reasons but includes a growing number of families who are choosing to self-isolate.  I was asked today if families are allowed to do that. My response is absolutely. Please do whatever you feel is best for your family’s health. Everyone has different circumstances with regard to immune systems, elderly relatives, working parents and personal views therefore each case is totally the decision of parents. I will support whatever decision you make.

At this stage to my knowledge no Richmond student or parent has tested positive.

As you can imagine with 74 students at home, teachers are receiving many requests for individual work to be sent home. This number unfortunately isn’t manageable and teachers are not officially obliged to provide work, though some are trying to.  Please bear with us on this and encourage your children to access online Reading Eggs and Mathletics; work through their spelling books and engage in activities like reading, writing, cooking, board games etc.

Work packages are being developed centrally and at school level to be used as government directed isolation or school closures occur.

Again, thank you for your support and patience and for your encouragement of our staff in their increasingly complex and high profile jobs.

Lisa Dentith