These are unprecedented times, with the effects of drought, bushfire and now coronavirus having a significant impact on all of us. I know that many people are concerned about conflicting messages about COVID-19 and that many of you are worried about your children and families.

In light of the current health pandemic and the need for self-isolation, I understand some students cannot currently attend school. I respect this decision and appreciate each family’s personal situation.

Our families should be confident that decisions have been and will be made regarding the impact of COVID-19 on our school community are based on the concern and compassion for every person. 

Behind the scenes, the Senior Executive of the Department are meeting twice daily. They are constantly reviewing and monitoring the situation and making decisions based on the most recent advice from NSW Health. They are very aware of the paramount need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. 

There is also significant concern and debate in the community about the closure of schools. Current advice from the Federal Government is to keep schools open. However, we continue to support families to make decisions for their child's wellbeing based on their circumstances. Our focus is on ensuring that every child in our care is safe, well and can continue their learning. Unwell students must not attend school.

St Columba Anglican School in Port Macquarie has announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 at their school. I want to reassure you of a few items.

Our College remains fully operational, although restrictions have been put in place to excursions & sporting events. We ask if your child is unwell, for them to stay at home until they are feeling better. It is important to note that staff are making preparations if the situation is to change. Keep an eye on our web page as well as our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

I would, however, like to reassure you of a few items:

  • For Department schools, the Ministry of Health notifies all close contacts of the confirmed case, and support them to access testing. Those persons remain in isolation until a test result is known.
  • There is a difference between close and casual contact. Persons who were a casual contact with a COVID-19 positive person (i.e. spent less than two hours in a confined space or less than 15 minutes face-to-face) would not be tested for the virus unless they were displaying symptoms. This is because the chances of contracting the virus through casual contact are much lower.
  • Persons who are a casual contact do not need to be tested for COVID-19 and do not need to self-isolate unless displaying symptoms.

I have had many parents and students email and contact teachers about how to continue their learning during this time. I am proud of students’ initiative, motivation and recognition of the importance of ongoing learning in challenging times.

In relation to students who are unable to attend school, wherever possible students will be given access to classwork. Our practice remains that students who are absent are to regularly check existing online learning platforms e.g. Google classroom, Sentral and additional resources on our school web page. Students are also encouraged to check daily notices and school email regularly.

Parent/Teacher Evening - Tuesday 31 March – Change in format

Parent/Teacher conferences are an important opportunity to discuss your child's progress with their teachers. This year, as a result of COVID-19, we will be asking parents to provide an expression of interest to request a phone interview with your child's teachers rather than face-to-face parent/teacher conference. The process will happen the same way as face-to-face but over the phone. Each interview is 5 minutes. Information will be sent out to parents and carers early this week.

Infrastructure Workshops - Cancelled

Cancellation Notice: The information/communication session that was to be held on Wednesday 25 March relating to the Infrastructure Development of both campuses has, unfortunately, been cancelled. The Department is working on alternative ways to gather feedback from the community about the project.

I have attached a resource that you may find useful. It's called staying Mentally Well During Uncertain Times. It includes some evidence-based recommendations that you can add to your usual ways of coping and caring for your mental health and wellbeing.

Once again please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.