22 May 2020

We have reached the end of our first week fully back at school and have had 94% of children at school each day, which is our normal attendance rate for this time of year.  The remainder are unwell, at appointments, or on holiday.

This morning we all loved our second ‘virtual assembly’.  Last fortnight I ran an assembly over the PA.  This morning we went one step further and beamed it into classrooms via Teams. Thanks to our student councillors for their presenting role, and special congratulations to Isabella and Josie who have each sung the National Anthem, unaccompanied, and not missed a note. It must have been daunting.  We are working on a few technical issues but plan to be bigger and better each fortnight…

Drop off and pick up continue to go well.  Children are becoming very independent and it is fantastic to see them getting themselves organised for the day.  Teachers meet them in the classroom on arrival and are able to make personal contact with each child as they arrive, to quickly ascertain everyone’s mood and demeanour. This has led to very a calm and smooth start to work at 8.45am.  With children not arriving before 8.30am, teachers have gained thirty minutes each morning to prepare for class.  Similarly, since the site is empty by 3.10pm, teachers have gained well over an hour at the end of each day, to mark work and to plan.

Erika, Dave and I are enjoying manning the gates morning and afternoon and love seeing everyone arrive smiling each day.

At breaks, I have been very happy with how well children have adapted their play to their own areas.  The quad is a happy buzz as year 1 and pre-primary children play together in the sandpit, on bikes, dressing up and in the fairy garden. All kinds of imaginative play is happening.

On the oval and in the undercover area, our very active year 2-4 students have lots of room for all manner of ball games, chasing and ‘cooking’ in the nature play garden.

Out on the front lawn our senior students are enjoying sitting in groups to talk and read. Out on the courts it is brilliant to see that they have organised big games of basketball and are all playing in a coordinated and cooperative way, rather than just one on one. They look very smart in their blue leavers shirts – many thanks to the year 6 parents who organised those during a difficult time.

As the colder weather hits, we of course have had a corresponding increase in lost items of clothing. It’d be great if you could label jackets very clearly so that they can be returned to their owner quickly.  All lost property is in the quad during the day and children should regularly check through it.

Another thanks to room 2 parents who continue to donate cleaning resources. This week they have given us a big box of wipes for our computer keyboards. Brilliant. Thanks too to our day cleaner, Vanda, who spends every day circulating at top speed around the school cleaning high touch surfaces. She will be super fit by the end of all this.

It sounds like we are unfortunately in for some bad weather this weekend, stay safe and warm and see you next week.

Lisa Dentith

15 May 2020

As you may have heard, Mark McGowan announced yesterday that all students are to return to school on Monday.  There will be exemptions for vulnerable children with medical concerns, or for those who live with a vulnerable family member. Those children will be additionally supported by the department’s School of Special Educational Needs: Medical and Mental Health to continue to work at home.

All of our current safety procedures, regarding arrival at school after 8.30am, adults on site, hygiene measures and sick children, as detailed in my last update, will remain in place indefinitely.

Gatherings such as assemblies, incursions and excursions, inter school sport and camps continue to be banned.  We also remain bound by community rules regarding gatherings of adults and cannot have staff meetings over 20 people.  Vulnerable staff will remain off site.

A new letter from the Chief Health Officer is here: Letter to parents.

The only other change for us, is that the P&C plans to reopen the canteen from next week on Wednesdays and Fridays on a limited basis. All orders will be online.  For everyone’s continued safety, there will be no counter service, so children shouldn’t bring any money to school.  Food will be prepared by just three staff as ‘takeaway’ and will be delivered to children. The hatch will remain closed.

Our canteen manager and two P&C members have completed the AHA Hospitality and Tourism Covid-19 Hygiene Course, that hospitality workers are required to complete.  They have also written a Covid-19 safety plan, by which they will operate.  My sincere thanks to Paula and Ros for working closely with me to ‘soft open’ the canteen, and for their thoroughness in this process, in line with our cautious approach at school.

I’ve updated all of this canteen information, including their plan, a new menu and how to order online here: Canteen Term 2.

Remember that you can join the next P&C meeting via Zoom by requesting a link from tony.estrano@gmail.com.

Enjoy the weekend sunshine, we are all looking forward to seeing everyone next week.

Lisa Dentith

12 May 2020

I am writing today to update you on how things are going at school this week and to project a little moving forwards.

Today Mark McGowan has announced a new case of COVID-19 overnight in WA. I would like to quote his words: While we’re doing well in the fight against this pandemic, the battle is far from over… it’s so important that we take a cautious approach to winding back restrictions.

This reflects my approach to our school.  We have created a calm, positive atmosphere where staff and students feel happy and relatively safe.  Our attendance rate is high compared to other schools.  I am in no rush to change our considered and steady approach or to take our eye off the ball.

Today we have 94% of children at school. 3% are learning at home and the remaining 3% are absent for other reasons, mainly colds.

Everyone is being vigilant regarding colds and sniffles and is keeping sick children at home. A 3% ‘sick’ absence rate is low for the normal start of winter, and I believe that our more stringent hygiene practices have played a part in this.  I plan to keep many of these practices – particularly in relation to hand hygiene and cleaning equipment –  in place permanently.

I have one teacher off sick with a cold, and the class also has the highest number of sick children absent. It is a reminder that it’s really important for anyone who is sick to stay at home, not only to avoid spreading colds to other children, but also importantly to avoid spreading to the teacher, whose absence affects the whole class.

Staff members have received a flu jab and many families are doing the same.

Our main procedures, which are ongoing at this stage, are: Children should not arrive on site before 8.30am; they have allocated eating and play areas at breaks based on year groups; hand sanitiser is in all rooms and is used regularly; hand washing is ongoing; no equipment or toys are allowed to be brought from home; school equipment is not shared and is cleaned regularly; our day cleaner cleans high touch surfaces during the day; sick children are sent home; and only our essential staff are permitted on site – no other adults, parents or non-Richmond students – to minimise contact with the wider community.

Mark McGowan has indicated that he will announce further decisions regarding schools this week.  I have no advance knowledge of what this will entail.  I will however write an update regarding his announcement in the context of Richmond, as information comes to hand.

Finally, the P&C is planning to have a general meeting for parents on Thursday 21 May at 7.30pm via ZOOM. If you would like to be sent a link to join the meeting, please email tony.estrano@gmail.com

Thank you everyone, for your continued, unwavering support. To the Richmond family who this week purchased and donated a coffee machine (and lots of pods) for the staff, we thank you! Amazing.

To room 2 parents who have kept the donations of hand sanitiser coming, thank you.

And to our staff, students and parents for bearing up so well to all the changes and making Richmond a very special place to be, at a terrible time for the world, I cannot thank you enough.

Lisa Dentith