25 March 2020

Yesterday 319 children (76%) were absent from school, today 268 (64%) are absent, practicing social distancing. This has allowed those on site to spread out more, which helps to maintain an atmosphere of calm and focus.

I am continuing to close down high contact areas and have today locked our library and discontinued instrumental music.

The number of visitors on site has significantly decreased. I really appreciate parents complying with our requests to leave children at the gate where age appropriate or to quickly drop and go at the door. Please, for everyone’s peace of mind, continue to practice social distancing and avoid congregating in the quad, on benches or at doors.

8.30 am and 3.00 pm are of concern to staff as dozens of parents come on site and many understandably want to talk to teachers about what may happen. In the interest of slowing the spread of transmissions, I am now saying that no parents may enter classrooms and all parent face-to-face conversations with staff are discontinued.  Please do refer to my updates for all our latest information. Teachers do not know any more than this and are already understandably anxious about the gravity of the situation and their important role in it.

Today, out of interest, I watched at random a parent drop a child at school. The parent touched the bag racks; bench; the child’s lunch box, bag, books and water bottle; the classroom door handle and frame; two desks; many children’s folders and the external gate.  This, I am sure, was all inadvertent, incidental touching. But it is what we have to avoid. My cleaners cannot possibly keep up with this.  Thank you for just being aware of how serious it is for us, being on site with over 150 people every day, when all other advice is to limit gatherings to tiny numbers.

With regard to the majority of children now at home; I have asked my teachers to send a connect notice with some work for their class to do at home over the remaining 11 days of school. To be honest, if your child is safe, calm, staying on your property, and gainfully employed, ideally reading, that is fine.  Mathletics, spelling, writing and projects are brilliant and I absolutely encourage you to do those things, but please continue to make their safety and your sanity your first priority.

This is a health emergency, not an academic emergency.

At this stage I cannot give you certainty about next term.  Things change daily. When it is closer and clearer, I will let you know how we are going to maintain education for everyone.  Education per se will remain open, but it certainly won’t be business as usual on site.

In the meantime, I will keep writing an update every two days until the end of term, so that we are all on the same page. Connect continues to crash as 800 schools are now using it, so you may not always get a timely connect notice with a link to my update, but please just check our website.

I know many in our community are doing it tough, not only professionally and economically, but socially and personally.  My thoughts are with all of you.  We really are all together in this.

Stay safe everyone and thank you.

Lisa Dentith