Head of School Newsletter – Term 2

Term 2, 2020

Start of Term 3 – Covid-19 Update

At the time of sending this newsletter, the New England is still free of any Covid-19 outbreak and our approach to the start of the term 3 is to remain cautious and vigilant while trying to ensure our students have access to as many ’normal’ school activities as we can. Of course the situation is fluid and we may have to amend our approach should there be any outbreak in Armidale or directed changes from NSW authorities. However, at this stage;

 

  • Any student who has any cold or flu-like symptoms should remain at home and follow medical advice
  • Any student who has travelled to a Covid-19 ‘hot spot’ should be tested for Covid-19 before they come to school for the start of term
  • The School will operate as it did at the end of Term 2 with face to face classes from Transition to Year 12
  • There will still be daily temperature checks for all boarders for the first 2 weeks of term
  • As per Term 2 arrangements, no parents are allowed into Boarding Houses at start of term for drop off
  • All arrangements that were in place at the end of Term 2 regarding Assembly, Chapel and other whole-school activities will remain as they were last term
  • It is still vital that we all adhere to strict protocols on hand hygiene and social distancing
  • Pick up and drop off for all Junior School students to remain as it was at the end of Term 2 with parents dropping off and collecting their children at the northern end of the JS playground.
  • All necessary changes to sport or creative arts will be communicated directly to families from Mr Will Caldwell, Director of Co-curricular
  • Any necessary changes to boarding will be communicated to boarding families from Mr David Drain, Director of Boarding

From the Head of School

As a teacher of Modern History, I have often referred to text as entitled “Challenge, Change and Continuity”, and to my mind, that is an accurate description of the issues that our staff, students and parents have been confronted with this term. Indeed, we could write our own textbook on The Armidale School and COVID-19. The extraordinary shift in landscape has impacted all of us and drawn on the reserves of energy, adaptability and resilience that have proven to be most testing.

Having ended Term 1 one week early in order for our staff to prepare lessons for our online learning platform, the school monitored all of the information from the Department of Health, the AIS, the Australian Health, Principal Protection Committee and maintained contact with other Heads of Boarding Schools. All measures with regards to hygiene, social distancing and maintaining student well-being were integral to a very detailed planning process. Time was also spent on adapting our daily routines, changing timetables and preparing the resource packs that were sent out to families.

The first two weeks of this term consisted of online learning for all year groups and our protocols were aligned with government directive to schools. In week 3 we invited all junior school classes plus year 6 to return to the classroom for face to face teaching and this decision was received with great delight by both parents and students, as evidenced by the expressions of pure joy on the faces of those younger students as they arrived back at school and saw their friends in the junior school playground. Our invitation for the year 12 students to return was predicated on announcements from NESA concerning the HSC this year. Once we received that information, we invited our year 12 boarders to return to school on Thursday 14 May and upon their return all boarders were tested for COVID 19 and all returned a negative result. Face to face teaching commenced for all year 12 students on Monday 18 May.

During the long weekend we conducted an HSC Study Camp for year 12 partly funded by a portion of the federal government drought relief grant for year 12 parents. There was a full return to school for all of our students on Tuesday 9 June and face to face teaching and sports training commenced for all year groups under the conditions of published guidelines and this return to a more normal school routine was welcomed by teachers, parents and students.

Hours and hours of planning have taken place in order for all of the above to have occurred in the manner that it has. All of our staff from the Strategic Planning Group, School Executive team, teachers, the Medical Centre administration, housekeeping and ground staff have worked tirelessly in order for us to adhere to all of the protocols and processes imposed and I cannot thank them all enough.

In and around all of the activities that were a part of the online learning process keeping students glued to their computers, there was some delightful opportunities created for them by our staff,  ranging from the innovative, entertaining and morale-boosting “Blinding Lights Challenge’, Jim Pennington’s 1,000km challenge, David Slade’s remote work with his F1 in Schools elective class, Rachael Edmonds cooking class and sports coaching sessions designed for each sport. Fortunately, we were also able to commit to continuing honoured traditions such as participation in the Dangarsleigh ANZAC Service and filming our own scaled down version. With the wellbeing of our students in mind, given their isolation and dealing with circumstances beyond their control, our Director of Pastoral Care AJ Whalley organised Batyr online programs and featured in his own Batyr webinar.

Every effort has been made to keep parents informed through letters, resources packs and messages detailing our decisions about our planning, what we intended for our students and what we proposed for all of our students to return to school and hopefully this level of information gave our parent body the confidence to accept the fact that we were thinking ahead and planning for any contingencies that may occur. I think we have emerged at the end of this term at a pretty good place and hopefully none of us have to endure similar circumstances again. However, as I write this summary of the past term, there are new outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney. If we do have to respond again, I know we will be able to meet the challenge.

I wish you all the very best for the remainder of the holidays and look forward to as normal a term as possible in Term 3.

 

Alan Jones
Head of School

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From the Director of Studies

My thanks to all for their efforts throughout Term 2, both online learning and the return of face to face teaching. This has been a challenging and interesting time for all concerned; staff, students and parents. As we have moved in and out of online learning, our students have become much more skilled at online learning and I trust that the measures that were put into place during the online period ensured that students have returned feeling on track and prepared to continue their studies. As we move into Term 3, our staff will continue to support students with their learning and work with any areas that students may require support in.  Below are a few items to note for the start of the new term.

New Timetable
We will begin Semester 2 with a new timetable for the whole school (T-12). This timetable is available for students online through Edval. Please ensure that students have checked this prior to the return of school so everyone is organised for the first day back.

Year 12 Trial HSC Exams
Year 12 students have been provided with a copy of the timetable for the Trial HSC Exams. The School has made the decision to move the trials back to Weeks 5 and 6, to accommodate the disruptions that have been experienced this year. This timetable takes into consideration other tasks that were due to occur in Week 6. We wish our Year 12 students all the best as they prepare for these upcoming exams.

Stage 5 Electives
Students in Years 9 and 10 received notification of their elective classes for Semester 2 at the end of last term. Any request to change these electives need to me sent to [email protected] prior to the beginning of Term 3.

 

Luke Polson
Director of  Studies

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From the Director of Co-curricular

Uniform
Grey pants for girls in Years K-12 as an option for winter uniform are expected to be available in Term 3. Also, the decision has been made to upgrade the existing school tracksuit to a more modern style as well as transitioning to a navy sports polo. Both are expected to be available by December 2020. The existing white polo and tracksuit may be worn at training and PE classes until December 2022. However, commencing 2021, students will be required to wear the new uniform when representing the School.

Sporting competition resuming
We are expecting all sports to resume competition this term, beginning with our rifle shooters competing at the GPS Championships in Hornsby on 21-22 July. Local competition in Netball, Hockey, Football and Rugby are expected to commence at the end of Week 1. Details will be emailed to students and parents as soon as they are available.

 

Will Caldwell
Director of Co-curricular

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From the Director of Boarding

Reflecting on Term 2 while recently spending some time away with my family, my immediate thoughts were how impressed I was with the entire TAS boarding community during what was an extremely challenging term. The manner in which the Year 12 boarders initially adapted to the new routines was a testament to our senior year groups character and highlighted their unique collegiality and leadership qualities. Their disciplined approach during this time allowed the Years 6 – 11 boarders to return after the June Long Weekend giving all our boarders the opportunity to reacquaint with staff, friends and school routines before our current extended holiday period. The positive energy and vibrancy on display during this time was immediately evident and the smiles on the faces of so many boarders made it clear how important this earlier than expected return to boarding life was. Their willingness to throw themselves into their respective co-curricular activities during this time was evidenced by Croft and Abbott Houses progressing through to the final of the Inter-House Senior Debating and Croft House progressing to the final of the Middle School Debating. Both finals will be held early Term 3.

While we would all love boarding to return back to normal routines as soon as possible, it is important that all boarders continue to adhere to the School’s Covid-19 guidelines from the commencement of Term 3. These guidelines remain fluid and will likely change as the term progresses.

Please also be aware that academic classes for Term 3 commence on Tuesday 21 July with Boarding Houses open for returning boarders from 3.00pm Monday 20 July. Should your son or daughter need to arrive earlier than 3.00pm or later than Monday evening, please communicate directly with your respective Head of House.

Most winter sports will resume from the commencement of Term 3 so please ensure your son or daughter returns with their appropriate training and competition attire. Should you have any questions regarding Term 3 sport, including fixtures information, please check the TAS website or contact Will Caldwell, Rachael Edmonds or the respective sport’s MIC directly.

Leave
Some restrictions on leave during the week and on weekends will remain in place for all boarders from the commencement of  Term 3. This will be communicated to all boarders upon their return. Weekend leave will be allowed with approved hosts and boarders will be allowed to travel with parents, hosts or on approved public transport. All leave requests must continue to be pre-approved by Heads of House through the Reach leave system. Please ensure leave is submitted as early as possible to avoid any disappointment.

Illness
Any student who displays any sort of respiratory illness signs will be isolated and tested as soon as possible. Isolation will occur in the Medical Centre which will be staffed 24 hours a day from the commencement of Term 3.

In the case of students who are confirmed positive to COVID-19, the School will rely on directions from the NSW Department of Health as to where and how they will be located and treated.

Houses will continue to be equipped with a number of hand sanitising stations in key locations. All boarders will be continually reminded of the need to wash their hands and sanitise them on a regular basis. Additionally, students will be reminded with key signage in relation to COVID-19 including; hand washing, personal hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing. Your support during this time of unprecedented change is greatly appreciated.

 

David Drain
Director of Boarding

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