Thank you for the support you have shown the College so far. We are in extraordinary times and appreciate the way you are pulling together as a College community. However, it is important that we all keep vigilant. As time continues it is easy for us not to see many manifestations of illness in our circles of contact and become complacent. This will change in the days and weeks ahead and we need to instil behaviours now that will keep our families and children safe for the long term.
Today we want to acknowledge the work of our staff. This is a time where they play a critical role, crucial to our community. As essential workers, they are ‘front line’ people during an unprecedented time; a time where they are a stability for students amongst chaos and even panic. Not many people choose to manage 30 students in one room seven times a day, ensuring that they are sharing knowledge, inspiring inquiry, challenging ideas, imparting values, and sharing a picture of a possible hope and future. Our staff teach our students what it means to be good people, and good citizens. In a time of panic, they teach compassion. They teach what it means to be a member of our community. They teach resilience and hard work, problem solving and a view of the world that is bigger than what they see on their screen.
We thank our MBC staff for all they are doing in this crucial work – for both providing for those at home and those on site every day.
You will have heard that NAPLAN testing has been cancelled for this year. The Education Council, consisting of all education ministers, indicated that the decision was “taken to assist school leaders, teachers and support staff to focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education”. They also reiterated that the National Cabinet has agreed, on the advice of the chief health and medical officers, that “pre-emptive closure of schools are not proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time.” You may have heard that local school, Frederick Irwin Anglican School is transitioning into online learning effective from tomorrow. They have been instructed to do so by the Anglican Schools Commission, not the government.
Since that statement on Friday the Western Australian Government has announced a range of broader restrictions which will see non-essential activity curtained and further risk mitigating measures put in place. These nationally consistent measures include:
- Australia’s borders will be closed to everyone except for Australian residents, citizens and their family members. Effective from 6.00PM or 1800 AWST Friday, 20 March 2020.
- Anyone arriving into Western Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
- From 1.30pm (WST) Tuesday, March 24, Western Australia will implement strict border controls for all access points – by road, rail, air and sea.
- Unless exempted, arrivals from interstate will be ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. Thank you to everyone who has been vigilant with this criteria.
- The WA Police Commissioner is authorised to stop any non-Australian citizens or residents who arrive at WA ports on international cruise ships from disembarking. Those people will be required to stay on the ship, until arrangements have been made for them to be privately transported to the airport to fly to their home country. These orders will be made under the Emergency Management Act.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday, 18 March 2020. A new one person per four square metres (2m x 2m) of floor space rule has been introduced. It applies to non-essential gatherings, in many different circumstances. It does not include places such as schools or the Parliament. As we finished our gatherings last week with a final year group briefings for students (much needed Q&A included, with so much information around) there will be no more group gatherings larger than a class in the short term.
- Restrictions have been placed on travel to WA’s remote Aboriginal communities, with exceptions for delivery of essential services, medical reasons, family or cultural reasons.
- Non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people are banned. Outdoor events of fewer than 500 attendees may proceed providing they follow the measures in place. Students have also been encouraged to distance and go into year group zones.
Mandurah Baptist College has taken significant steps to prepare for all contingencies. We will ensure your child has all they need to continue their learning and achieve their learning outcomes. The College continues to follow the advice and directives of the relevant governmental agencies which is, at this stage, to continue with classes at school (while reassessing other activities – as communicated through our COVID-19 updates to all parents). We do understand, however, that there may be significant and meaningful reasons why particular students need to remain off campus at this time. In relation to this please note the following advice to families currently self-isolating their child from school:
- School Attendance
Mandurah Baptist College will remain open and delivering our education programs as per usual unless directed to close by the government. Today WA Premier Mark McGowan announced that WA schools would remain open until the Easter holidays, but also said that parents can choose to keep their children at home as the state relaxes its education laws. If you do decide to keep your child/children home from school, please email Lilian at firstname.lastname@example.org and their classroom teacher who will forward At Home Learning activities.
- School Drop-off and Pick-up of Students
Where possible, I ask parents and guardians to avoid coming on-site to the College unless necessary. Therefore please try to make use the College’s Drop-off and Pick-up “drive-thru” area when bringing Year 1 – 6 children to school and picking them up after school. Parents can walk Kindy and Pre-Primary students to their classroom and say goodbye at the door. If your child is very unsettled, parents can accompany them into the classroom but are asked to wash their hands on entry and only remain in the room until your child settles.
- Recess and Lunch Times at School
To support students with social distancing at school, we have as of today created two new recess and lunch time eating areas so there are less children in each other’s proximity. We have also divided up the oval and playgrounds into zones, so that children of different year levels play in separate areas.
- Visiting Therapists
We have suspended all visits to the College by outside therapists and agencies until further notice. Staff can continue to communicate with them by email or telephone, and respond to their advice to run learning activities for the children they work with. Alternatively, parents may want to have their child’s therapy conducted at home.
- Running Club
Running clubs are held at MBC Primary each Wednesday and Friday. These are now cancelled.
- School Attendance
As the College has enacted forward planning measures in the event of a possible shutdown, at this stage our advice to students staying home from school is to follow the information presented on SEQTA as to required content and activities. Teachers have been instructed to ensure that SEQTA is up to date with sufficient information for students to work from home for the time being in the case that they are not attending school. Students are encouraged to communicate with teachers via their College email in regards to questions & clarification requests. Should the school need to move entirely to an online learning system as directed by government, all students would transition to our protocols for online learning, with the addition of Microsoft Teams as a lesson delivery platform (as outlined in previous communication). If you are choosing to self-isolate, please ensure to contact us at your earliest convenience so we can record your child’s approved absence.
- TAFE in Schools
Please note that all TAFE in Schools courses are being run as normal. We have received no further update from North or South Metropolitan TAFE’s and will let parents know if any further information is released.
In addition to the above Senior and Primary School updates, Mandurah Baptist College has taken the following steps to further safe guard and support our families and students during this time:
- The College has employed three extra cleaners (from our contracted cleaning company) to ‘spot clean’ and disinfect high use areas of the College throughout the school day, in addition to the out of hours cleaning. (NB. Our cleaning contractors ensure all staff are briefed, and are targeting specific areas e.g. desks, keyboards. Staff are also backing up this process during the day with targeted cleans.)
- Fee Concession: We know this is a time where many families may have their income affected. Should it be needed, MBC families can request a fee pause for Term 2. In that situation, finance staff will not contact nominating families for 3 months, and will delay payments for 3 months.
- We have given Senior School students the option to wear their sports uniform to and from school on days they have Physical Education classes, as to avoid using the change rooms together in large numbers.
We have attached a self-isolation guide for your reference should you need it. (Please click here to access this guide.) We will continue to update you as more information comes to hand, if you would like to access any of the information that has already been sent to families regarding COVID-19, please visit our ‘news’ page on our website here.
Rob Gratton and Tracy Holmes
Principals – Mandurah Baptist College