2 April 2020
Dear Parents and Carers
The update we received from our Department late yesterday was very comprehensive. It included information such as the travel restrictions which now apply to regions within Western Australia, enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, information pertaining to playgrounds and play equipment, the use of school premises and more information re social distancing.
While we don’t really know what teaching and learning will look like in Term 2, we are advised that it will ‘look different’. A primary focus for our Department is pulling together and sharing existing resources, planning for the increased use of technologies, and providing support and training for those of us who work in schools. In addition to reviewing the extent to which we were able to achieve what we had planned for Term 1, we have been planning for Term 2 and identifying and critiquing a range of resources and tools that will best support both teaching and learning. It is overwhelming, exhausting, innovative and potentially exciting – all rolled into one challenge and opportunity!
Those of you who have started to ‘play’ with Seesaw will have gained some early insight into some of the different ways in which children can share their learning, experiences and insights remotely. For those of you who are still easing into the whole ‘work from home, learn at home’ routine there will be plenty of time for you to check in to Seesaw when you are ready. As I have said on numerous occasions, while our world continues to resemble a snow globe that’s had a bit of a shake, everyone’s energies are best focused on finding your feet and figuring out what works and doesn’t work for your family. It’s about being okay or becoming okay again. Be kind to yourselves and redefine expectations so that they are realistic and achievable.
So far as learning is concerned, as teachers we focus on curriculum because that is one of our key roles, and what we are charged to do. Please don’t undervalue the learning that children do by themselves (‘play’ in its purest form), with their siblings and with you as parents – that learning is not less important, it’s just different. Play to your own strengths and those of your children, and try hard not to compare to yourselves to others – they will have different strengths. For now do the things that bring you joy and laughter. We will continue to work on ways to support the rest.
We will keep in touch. In the meantime, you might receive the odd ‘post’ here and there as we all try to come to terms with new ways of connecting and staying connected.
31 March 2020
I hope you are all safe, healthy and bunkered down for now …
As you are aware, there have essentially been four key strategies introduced globally to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (wash hands thoroughly, avoid touching our faces, cough and sneeze into tissues or an elbow, and social distance). Most recently the message around social distancing has been ‘please stay at home’ unless:
- you need medical assistance;
- need to go to work;
- need to shop for essentials; or
- you are exercising
Last week’s message from the Premier and Minister was
‘ … the State Government encourages families to keep their children at home, if they can access the online or other resources for their education to continue’. Children of parents who need their children to attend school to enable them to maintain employment, and those children in vulnerable families, such as children living with grandparents, are encouraged to continue (to) attend school’.
(Excerpt from Media Statement 26 March 2020) https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/03/Changes-to-government-school-learning-from-Monday.aspx
Thank you to families within our community who are doing everything possible to adhere to the above. We appreciate the challenges of working from home with young children, and have tried to ensure that families have access to resources that are, on the whole, familiar to children. Further, families are strongly encouraged to choose how much or how little of the suggested learning activities their children do. Please don’t put pressure on yourselves, particularly if you are trying to work at home.
I trust that those families that choose to access Seesaw and the guidelines and activities provided by our teachers, are finding them helpful. Please let me know if you have any difficulty accessing these resources.
We continue to put in place whatever strategies we can, to maximise the health and wellbeing of our staff and the small number of students who remain on site. We particularly thank the families who are keeping their child or children at home on the days they are at home, and only sending them on the days they need to work away from home.
Until further notice please help us to keep our staff and community safe by:
- Not coming onto the school site unless by prior arrangement (email or phone call) – unless dropping off or collecting a child (with the exception of the collection of PP packs at scheduled times tomorrow.
- Keeping children at home unless you have to attend an ‘off-site’ work place to maintain employment
- Not use the (fabulous) play equipment or basketball courts on site while all other playgrounds are out of bounds L
Thank you for your understanding and continued support!
Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine.
27 March 2020, 7.00pm
As this week draws to a close, it’s almost impossible to recall what things were like only two or three weeks ago. In fact the context around school has changed even in the last 24 hours, following the Premier’s and Minister’s announcements yesterday.
Approaching Week 9 (and Week 10)
A day or two ago, I would have been saying ‘see you next week’. So what has changed? Firstly, yesterday’s announcement saw a shift from ‘we understand if you choose to keep your child or children at home’ to ‘please keep your child or children at home if possible’. It seems that this is an attempt to strengthen the social distancing strategy, while also trying to support vulnerable children, and other potentially vulnerable family members. Secondly, over the last two weeks an increasing number of families have put arrangements in place to keep their children at home. In the last day or so, the sense of ‘normality’ we had hoped school could provide, has dissipated significantly.
My commitment to you is that ‘children come first’, and while personally I’m a little sad to reach this point, I now believe it’s in the best interests of children, for families to keep them home if possible. I say this knowing that we are expecting only a few students in each year level next week; that our teachers have put together some suggestions for learning that are closely aligned to what everyone would have been doing in Weeks 9 and 10 of Term 1, and that are manageable and suitable for learning at home. It also seems likely that we will commence Term 2 with a different model of teaching and learning. I believe that it would be helpful to view next week as a ‘trial run’. I am keen to hear your feedback in terms of what works for your context and what doesn’t. This will be really helpful for us in shaping how we approach Term 2.
Having said that:
- We are acutely aware that there will be a range of family contexts – that there will be one or two parents doing their best to work from home; that some children will be missing school and will be super keen to undertake tasks that are as ‘school-like’ as possible, while others will delight in baking, gardening, doing puzzles etc. Please take the suggestions and guidelines provided, and determine what will work for you and your family.
- We are also aware that if children are not at school, you may need to rely on others who are older or potentially vulnerable in other ways; or that having a child at school may be the only way you can maintain employment, or continue in your role as an in-demand health worker. If this applies to you, we understand.
It is expected that all families will receive activities and suggestions via Seesaw by about mid-morning on Monday. This is because we need to tweak a couple of minor things on Seesaw prior to sending. If we can send earlier we will. Thanks for your patience on this occasion.
One of the best aspects of our school community is our ability to look after each other. The staff and I have been incredibly grateful for the calm and compassionate manner in which the Kapinara school community has responded thus far, and I am personally grateful for the messages of support you have conveyed over the last few weeks.
Let’s be determined to emerge from the challenges ahead with more hope, inner strength, resilience and compassion that we had when we started. Thank you to our staff, our community and particularly to the front line health workers among us. Take care.
26 March 2020, 5.00pm
The one certainty appears to be … that things will keep changing …
You are probably aware that National Cabinet met yesterday, followed by State Cabinet. This morning the Premier announced the following:
While all public schools will remain open until the end of term, families are strongly encouraged to keep their children at home if they have the capacity to do so
Week 9: Monday 30 March to Friday 3 April
- Children who attend school will be taught as normal
Week 10: Monday 6 April to Thursday 9 April
- Students who attend will be supervised, but not taught normal lessons
- Teachers and education assistants will prepare teaching programs for Term 2
- We were advised that ‘The State Government is working on developing a longer term education model for Term 2 and beyond in response to COVID-19’
So we will plan for Term 2, knowing that teaching and learning is likely to look quite different for a little while yet. Different is ok though.
TOMORROW (Friday 27 March 2020)
- Those who have children at home are invited to come between the designated times to collect a small number of items, including books and school photos. They will be placed on the benches under the trees.
One person only please.
- We would be very grateful if you could also drop in to the box your children’s library books and reading books. J
- If you have decided to keep your child at home from next week, he/she can bring these items home tomorrow (Friday) afternoon
- If you need us to locate something additional (for example ‘glasses’) from your child’s classroom, please email your child’s teacher or me and we will arrange that also
- If you are unable to make the allocated time, please email me and we will make an alternative arrangement
A-F: 9:00 – 10:10 am
G-L: 11:00am – 12:00pm
M-R: 1:00 – 2:00pm
We will be in touch with more information about learning at home, including links to a range of resources that we will ‘hand pick’. In the meantime, please wait for teachers to identify which activities/pages in the student books they would like children to complete.
Thanks for your cooperation and support. If you have children at home, please reassure them that we miss them, and they are not forgotten!
25 March 2020, 7.30pm
Hello once again,
Firstly, thank you for giving us all some ‘space’ today. It really helped.
For families with children at home
- We have developed a schedule to enable families to drop-off library and reading books and to collect student workbooks if they wish. We will gather items together in family groups tomorrow, ready for collection on Friday and Monday. We plan to include school photos in the collection also.
- Weather permitting, we will have a collection box for returned books, and student workbooks will be in family bundles on the benches under the trees near the library. We will allocate blocks of time in alphabetical order. This way we can manage the numbers of families ‘visiting’ at any one time. We ask that one family member does the drop-off and pick-up please.
- Even if a teacher has referenced pages in the student books this week, there is no rush for these pages to be completed, so please don’t come to school to collect books on Thursday. Thanks.
- If you have decided to keep children home FROM next week, these children can take their books home on Friday. Please return library books and reading books on Thursday and Friday though!
Weeks 9 and 10
- We expect that school will be open.
- Teachers are currently finalising guidelines and suggestions for families who will have children at home in Weeks 9 and 10. This information will be made available on the ‘announcements’ page of Seesaw (only) and will reflect the learning that was planned for these weeks anyway, which is the learning that will occur in class. I thank teachers for the work they have been doing to pull this together while teaching.
Please be assured that there is no pressure on families to incorporate this into your week. It will be available for those who will find it helpful. It will be on Seesaw ready for Monday.
We are considering what teaching and learning might look like if everyone remains tucked away at home when Term 2 is due to start.
Key messages received this afternoon:
- The main update related to the newly introduced ‘border controls’. Unless exempt, anyone arriving from interstate (by road, rail, air and sea) after 1:30pm on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 must self-isolate
- It is important that children attending school (in our case continue to) bring their own individual water bottle to school each day
- Principals are expected to advise the coronavirus support team if a staff member or students has been tested for COVID-19 and/or of a confirmed case in the community (parent/carer/student) – even if you have been in isolation. I seek your support in this regard
- Additional funding has been made available for additional cleaning time and additional supplies (both of which we already put in place)
- There have been additional resources made available today to schools to support students health and wellbeing and the impact of the health situation on families
Life is certainly different for all us, whether your children are at home or at school. If your child is showing increased signs of anxiety, please let me know and we’ll consider how we can support him/her. In the meantime, most children will be reassured if you acknowledge that things ARE different, and it’s understandable that we will feel a bit uncomfortable but that it won’t always be this way (we can’t have playdates, or go to the shop with mum or dad, and we might have to Facetime grandparents, but its only for a while, while we try to keep everyone safe and healthy). We can reassure children that there are a lot of very clever and talented people in the world and in Australia (scientists, doctors etc) figuring out more each day to help us all stay healthy, and that when we feel uncomfortable there are things we can do to help ourselves feel better. The latter is something we DO have some control over!
Children might like to view the video of the ‘Harmony Day assembly’ which is now available via our school website. J The password is Kapclasses2020
Finally, here are two links to that you might find helpful. They are both from Telethon Kids Institute, where some members of our school community actually work. Thanks Melanie.
23 March 2020 – 7.10pm
Dear Parents and Carers
Well … where to start. Many of you would have watched and listened with interest to learn that the plan is to keep schools operating for a while yet. Having said that, an increasing number of families are choosing to keep children home, and I would like you to know that our Department and our staff understand, and respect your decisions to do so. We also remain completely committed to the children in our classes, and will continue to do all in our power to keep them safe and healthy – mentally and physically.
I would like to particularly thank families for the care and concern you continue to show – for others in the community, including our staff. Your support and kind thoughts and messages are greatly appreciated.
While the most recent updates from our Department have included advice regarding border restrictions, the protection of those attached to remote communities, and the restriction of ‘non-essential services’ – there has also been a strong focus on the continuity of teaching and learning, and school operations. Our Department respects the decision of families to keep children at home, but it remains clear that the expectation for teachers is that they prioritise their teaching in the classroom. That’s not to say that we can’t also offer families guidance for learning at home, it just might take more than a day or two to pull this together at the beginning.
We are fortunate to have access to a number of online learning platforms, which enable teachers to set tasks, monitor and review them. We have also just purchased some additional licences of Literacy Planet for the students in Year 1. Some classes have been using a platform called Seesaw to communicate with parents, and particularly to share aspects of students work. In the last few days we have set all classes and all families Seesaw accounts, and you should have received an invitation to connect with your child’s class. The advantage of Seesaw is that even young children, as well as their parents, will be able to easily access messages from their teachers. Teachers will be using the ‘announcements’ page on Seesaw to connect with students and families, outline some optional tasks for learning, embed links to other resources, and possibly even to view samples of work where these can be uploaded without creating huge challenges at home. If you are keen to access this, please ensure you respond to the invitation you would have received via email.
In the next day or so
- We will, as a minimum, post on the ‘announcements’ page which online platforms have tasks set, ready for children to access. This should include maths, reading and spelling focuses which will reflect the learning in class
- We hope to also include a focus for learning in Science and a focus for learning in HaSS (Humanities and Social Sciences)
- We hope to develop a strategy whereby library books and independent reading books can be safely returned to school, and Think Mentals books and English Skills books, can be sent home (with the caveat that students complete only the tasks suggested by their teachers, which we will update weekly)
- We will be pulling together some ideas for learning in other areas – not necessarily all of which will come from a curriculum 😉
I strongly believe that the physical and mental health and wellbeing of children and their families is paramount. Learning comes next. We will provide ideas and suggestions, but it will be up to individual families to determine what, if any, of these you draw on. Please make time to PLAY!
23 March 2020 – 10.30am
Dear Parents and Carers
This is a VERY quick update.
For those who have children at school – I don’t know about other schools, but please be assured we have plenty of soap, disposable paper towel, sanitiser, antiseptic spray etc. at Kapinara.
This is where we are up to in terms of teaching and learning:
We are currently planning and reviewing what this looks like for
- students currently at school and staying at school for the time being
- students at home (cognisant that this will look very different for individual families)
- when all students are at home, and teachers may be at school
- when all students are at home and some teachers may need to self-isolate or may be unwell
- when all students are at home, and teachers may not be at school at all
As you may recall from my email on Friday afternoon, our Department is to release some additional online resources today, and we are waiting to see what these look like and how they might complement and support Kapinara families specifically.
It is likely that we will send home the student workbooks that require MINIMAL TEACHING – Think Mentals (Years 1-6) and English Skills Practice Book (Years 2-6); and will this week collect library books and take-home readers.
I appreciate that families are keen to keep children in ‘learning mode’ wherever possible. However, please just for the moment, if you could resist the urge to (i) contact teachers for work focuses and/or (ii) come in to collect student workbooks, that would help us to keep things going here and to further plan detailed scenarios. I will email families further later today.
Thanks for your understanding everyone!