30 March 2020

Today it is hard to know where to start, as the enormity of the crisis across the world becomes daily more apparent.

Many in our Richmond community have friends and family abroad, especially in Europe and the USA.  It is an emotional ride for us all and our thoughts are with everyone.

Today at school, following the Premier’s request to keep children home where possible, 96% of our students have moved to learning at home.  Teachers are trying to post regular work via Connect and parents are also directed to the Education Department’s learning at home resources.

We are still providing face to face teaching for families who are not in a position to keep children at home. Today we have 22 children on site from PP-6. These are mainly the children of health workers, teachers, police, social workers and so on who are crucial to our front line.  The welfare of these children is a priority and we are maintaining social distancing, hygiene procedures and a calm and stable atmosphere for them at school.  Just for your interest, East Fremantle PS has 7 students today.

We thank front line workers for all that they are doing for our community.

Today due to the very low numbers, I have been able to collapse classes to free key teachers to plan for term 2.   It is no easy feat for teachers to move quickly from face to face teaching to online education.  Quite a different skill set is required and I really appreciate everyone bearing with us.

I know some families have children in independent secondary schools with many more resources, who are already well into online learning. We will not be able to compete with their program nor are we trying to.  Our aim is to keep our normal primary programs going during term 2; for children to maintain their relationship with their teacher/s; and for this not to be too difficult for parents to supervise.

As our Director General said last week, we are building the plane as we fly it.

The Education Department is one of the biggest organisations in WA with 820 public schools and over 300,000 students, who now have to move to distance education.

Some of the difficulties faced by schools across the state are sobering.

Many communities are not on-line; some children have such high medical needs that their families will need assistance to care for them at home; some communities are experiencing social unrest at the closure of schools; schools with boarding houses have to get everyone home safely; staff in remote communities are trying to get home; schools with ATAR students have obvious concerns; staff who need to be at work in schools also need to be at home with their own children… and of course with almost everyone in the state trying to access it at once, Connect keeps crashing.

In the scheme of things, we are fortunate to be in Australia, to be in Western Australia and to be at Richmond.

I will of course let you know as soon as anything changes.  In the meantime, thank you again for your unwavering support, patience, kindness and compassion to others.

Stay safe,

Lisa Dentith

26 March 2020

This morning the State Government has announced that families are encouraged to keep their children at home if they have the capacity to do so.  The majority of our parents have already been doing this, so for them nothing has changed this term.

The Government recognises there will be families who need to send their children to school to continue their learning during the next two weeks.  These may include:

  • Children of parents and carers who need their children to attend school to maintain employment.
  • Children who live in families with aged relatives.
  • Children where it is safer for them to be at school.

What this means for those children still at school is:

  • Next week: 30 March – 3 April, children who attend school will be taught as normal.
  • The following week: 6 – 9 April, children who attend school will be supervised. How this looks at Richmond will depend on how many children are at school that week.

All Richmond parents have received at least one Connect notice from their child’s teacher containing information about work that may be completed at home.  Additionally, as advised in my 23 March update, the Education Department’s learning at home resources are also available to all parents on their website under the learning at home tab.

I know some children are powering through their ‘home’ work and others are simply trying to regroup as a family unit in this new world.  Please do what you can manage, as we all adapt to the ‘new normal’.

My staff are preparing remote teaching resources for use in term 2.  I don’t know exactly what term 2 will look like yet in terms of possible physical attendance for some versus online learning, but I will keep you updated as the Government makes these decisions.

On-line learning at Richmond will continue to be via Connect, which is the Education Department’s secure communication channel.

I have added a link to Connect on the home page of our school website.

I have put the Connect manual under the information tab on our website.

Lara will happily reset your account quickly and easily on request.

With 420 students from K-6 to cater for, I’m grateful to parents for resisting the temptation to email staff for bespoke work packages at this stage.  We will approach this, as always, as a team and communicate with everyone together.

Please for now, ensure you are at ease with Connect, continue to read my updates on our website, look out for Connect communication about work from your child’s teacher, and check out the Education Department website resources.

There are lots of things that we are fine tuning so that we make this as simple as possible for everyone. Thank you so much for bearing with us in this period of rapid change and conflicting announcements. We all really appreciate it.

Stay safe, and again thanks for your support in this transitional period.

Lisa Dentith

 

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