Message from Principal – returning to school

Dear CMS Community,

I hope that you are safe and well. There’s a bit to get through here, but please take the time and care to read it all.

As I was able to let you know last week, Canberra Montessori School is returning to face-to-face teaching for all children on 18 May 2020. Acting on the health advice of the federal and territory governments, Independent, Catholic and Public Schools in many parts of the country are staging returns to face-to-face teaching around this date. Some schools, with much greater student populations than us, are staggering their re-entry over a period of days and weeks. We feel that, given our size (collectively and in each class) and structure, we are able to have all children back and minimise movement around school and be able to meet health expectations and requirements.

I do understand that whilst we are returning to face to face teaching and learning, and doing all we can to minimise infection, some parents might not wish to send children back to school at this time. Should this be the case, can you please let us know by completing this quick and easy form

We are planning so that in the short term, we’ll be able to provide some online support for home learning, although it won’t be able to be the quite the same as the past two weeks. There will, in all likelihood, be a limit to how many children this is feasible for as we return to face to face teaching; it will be important to know as soon as possible which children won’t be in school so we can best prepare.

Whilst we will be returning back to school, we won’t be returning back to our ‘normal’, and this period will present a number of new challenges to which we will need to adapt. To meet the AHPPC and ACT Health guidelines to reduce the possibility of infection, a range of measures will need to be in place.

Physical Distancing Protocols

Although there is considerable advice that physical distancing in schools is not required, CMS recognises that it is a workplace for staff and it prioritises safety and quality education for its children. We also have within our community people with compromised health who are also our responsibility. For the time being, the following protocols will be in place:

  • Cross-classroom activities are suspended. Outdoor play time is staggered so that classes are outside at different times.
  • All excursions, incursions, fundraising and community activities are postponed.
  • Additional and enhanced environmental cleaning and hygiene measures across the school to minimise the risk of any potential spread.
  • No food preparation in the classrooms or shared food. For morning tea, Cycle 1 children should bring pre-cut fruit in a separate container. We also ask that all children MUST bring a water bottle.
  • All meetings will take place online
  • Hand sanitation placed in every classroom and common areas. Staff, parents and children are encouraged to use it, particularly upon arrival at school.
  • The visiting of people to the school is severely restricted, with clear protocols to be followed prior to and during visit.
  • We are awaiting advice on Music tutorial lessons, which could hopefully continue online. At the moment, the Swimming Program is scheduled for Term 3. Gymnastics will recommence when advised it is safe to do so.

Out of School Hours Care
After School Care will be available but with vastly reduced availability, and is for children of essential workers. I’m afraid that, in the short term, we will not be able to provide before school care. I apologise if this causes difficulties. If you an essential worker and require after school care for your child/ren, can you please email reception@cms.act.edu.au and let us know by COB Thursday 14 May.

My child is sick, should they come to school ?
AHPPC guidelines dictate that if your child is showing any symptoms of sickness they must not come to school. You must keep them at home and away from others. If a child develops symptoms of sickness whilst at school, parents/carers will be contacted and will be required to collect their child asap from sickbay. The ACT Chief Health Officer’s information indicates that there is no need to check temperatures on the way in to school; we will adhere to that, but will take the temperature (with a non-contact body thermometer) of any child sent to sick bay. Current ACT Health advice is that you should contact your GP if displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Risks to vulnerable populations in schools
Parents and carers of children and young people with complex medical needs are encouraged to seek medical advice from their health practitioner to support informed risk assessment and decision-making regarding the suitability of on-site education for their child. Families with these concerns should contact the school at your earliest convenience so that arrangements can be made for an alternate mode of learning; we are preparing to be able to provide some online Home Learning support for those children who cannot come to school.

Future sudden closure of the school
Should the virus appear within our school community. The immediate response will be directed by ACT Health and would be parallel to that of any school within the ACT. At this stage, were this to happen, the closure and cleaning regimen usually takes place over two or three days. ACT Health would direct who would be considered as being in close contact, who should be tested, and who should self-isolate.

In the unlikely event of a school closure during the day, parents will be notified via the same email and SMS channels. Children will need to picked up by parents/care-givers. Those who are unable to be collected immediately will be supervised until such time as they are able to do so. It is recommended that parents give some forethought to collection arrangements in anticipation of this possibility.

Cleaning the School
The school has negotiated our cleaning contract to include enhanced cleaning with hospital grade cleaning agents with greater regularity and detail. Alongside this, classroom teaching and learning materials, high touch areas and play equipment will be cleaned and disinfected regularly each day.

Student wellbeing
Lisa, our Catholic Care councillor continues to be available to support children and families. She can be contacted by email here lisa.vithalis@catholiccare.cg.org.au

School Questions and Enquires

To minimise face to face contact at reception, all enquires should be directed to reception@cms.act.edu.au as a preference, or by phone.

Thank you

I would like to acknowledge again the extraordinary professionalism and care each staff member has brought to their role over the past few weeks. I have always been an advocate of our teachers; rarely has a body of staff better showcased their professional and pastoral qualities and skills under such challenging conditions. Thank you to all who have written to them and to me with positive feedback and constructive advice.

Additional information and resources

The Australian Government’s advice on how to manage isolation and other information on COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

ACT Health advice can be found here: https://www.health.act.gov.au/

The Australian Government has a dedicated Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Information Line, which operates 24-hours a day, seven-days a week: telephone 1800 020 080.

In the coming days, you will receive updated advice and procedures for drop-off and collection. The remainder of this term will see changes to our day to day routines, new challenges to overcome, and resources stretched. Our school community has demonstrated that we can overcome this if we continue to work together and support one another. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. Vigilance, personal and collective responsibility and common sense are required from each of us to best respond to clear medical and government advice. Schools are social and relational places with safety and quality education as their core business. We look forward in continuing to engage with parents and carers as restrictions are reviewed by government and as safety and hygiene initiatives develop.

As always should you require anything at all, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. I look forward to saying hello next week.

Kindest regards, and stay safe. What a time, hey!

Rael

 

Rael Matthews

Acting Principal, CMS