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