The Armidale School is taking precautionary steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This page will be kept up to date with the latest information from the school.
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
This letter contains all the information I included in today’s TAS Talks, but in case there are some of our parents who missed reading it, I am sending these important updates to you directly.
Important Reminders for Parents
1. As at 25 March, TAS remains open for day students and boarders. Many families have opted to take their children home to access classes online until the end of this term.
2. It is also important to note that due to their own personal circumstances, a number of TAS academic staff will also be working remotely and delivering their academic content to their classes away from TAS.
3. Any TAS student who will be at school until the end of term, will be supervised in classrooms around the school observing social distancing practices.
4. Term 1 concludes on Friday 3rd April.
5. There will be no classes conducted online during Week 11 for any year group. All TAS Academic staff will use Week 11 as professional development and preparation for the term ahead.
6. TAS assessments for students in Years 11 and 12 that were planned to go ahead in Weeks 10 and 11 may be modified. Updated information will be sent directly to students from their teachers.
Update on Academic Approach
Students in Years 6 – 12 – until 27 March (Week 9)
For the remainder of this week classes will continue to be taught predominately face to face, whilst supporting our students remotely by CANVAS and other means. Teachers continue to work with videoconferencing and preparing and uploading these resources to CANVAS; many students have been included in classrooms this week remotely via Zoom.
Students in Years 6-11 – from 30 March until 3 April (Week 10)
All classes will be taught online, regardless of whether the student is at TAS on campus or at home.
Supervision for students who remain on campus will be provided while they are completing their lessons online. All supervised classes will maintain appropriate social distancing.
Students in Year 12 – from 30 March (Week 10)
Given the disruption COVID-19 is causing everyone, but is particularly distressing to our Year 12 students, we want to provide them with the best possible solution given the gravity of the circumstances. Therefore, in this last week of term (Week 10), Year 12 classes will be taught live and delivered online as per their timetable where the teacher is on-site. Where possible, teachers of Year 12 will be in their classrooms delivering the online content to both students in the classroom and at home.
NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) has made the decision to cancel all NAPLAN exams for all year groups ( Years 3, 5 , 7 and 9) in 2020. As a result, these exams will not take place this year and will not be postponed.
Advice from NESA concerning HSC 2020
The NESA Board, who determine the framework and examinations of the HSC, met yesterday, 24th March and confirmed that students will still be able to get an HSC in 2020. More information about what this looks like in a practical sense will be provided in due course.
Year 12 students are strongly encouraged to maintain their coursework, make progress on major projects and complete all assessments, whether at School or remotely, to the best of their ability.
At this stage, we are waiting on advice for NESA for:
– Drama/Music group performances
– VET Placements
– Major projects and works
We will provide information to parents and students on these matters as soon as we have the advice from NESA.
The full text of NESA’s Media Release can be found at: https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/about/news/media-releases/media-release-detail/2020-HSC-is-going-ahead
Year 12 Parent Teacher Interviews
Due to the current circumstances, we will be modifying the arrangements for Year 12 Parent Teacher Interviews. Between now and the end of term, teachers of students in Year 12 will make contact with parents to discuss student progress to date. You can expect to hear from these teachers over the coming fortnight.
Additional Parent Resources
Please find below a number of links and ‘how to’ guides that provide more detail on our approach at TAS.
• Link to remote learning guide
• Link to various how to PDFs
Remote Learning Guide
The following website is the NSW Education Department’s guidelines on how to best set up your home and establish structure and routine for your children during this period of absence from school.
Director of Studies
Dear TAS Parents, Guardians, Staff and Students,
As another new week begins and the School continues to operate, albeit in a modified fashion, it is important that I inform you now about our intentions for the week ahead based on the information we have received from government agencies, education departments and health authorities. At the time of writing this letter, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in TAS, Armidale or the New England despite the growing numbers in NSW.
Our most recent communication from the NSW AIS (Association of Independent Schools) is that at this stage, all schools in NSW will remain open until the Easter holidays. Our decision is that this week we are open with face to face classes, but we will use this week to transition to online teaching and learning which will commence from next week.
A number of TAS families have chosen to keep their children at home today following the State Government’s advice. This week, these students at home will be able to follow the curriculum via Canvas and email contact with their teachers. In some cases, teachers may choose to trial other online learning methods.
All Junior School families will receive a more detailed letter tomorrow from Ian Lloyd, Head of Junior School which will deal with specific issues related to primary education.
Our main concern for the period ahead is for our students and their continued education. There is no doubt, learning from home, no matter how sophisticated the technology, will be challenging for staff and students alike. For some it will not be easy to maintain steady discipline at home and the accompanying distress many in senior years are feeling already is of concern to us all. We are also acutely aware that for many boarding families it is not so simple to come and collect your child, and once at home, there may be limited access to the internet which makes online learning a significant challenge. Subsequently our boarding houses will remain open until Thursday 9 April.
We will commence full online learning through our online learning platform for Year 3 and above from next week, whether a student is at school or at home. Our staff continue to be trained in developing and teaching online content to facilitate a speedy transition to this mode of teaching.
It is highly likely that there are families who work in ‘essential services’ and want their child to remain at TAS (as a day student or boarder) for supervised online learning at school observing social distance practices. All families need to consider your situation and then let us know when we send our survey tomorrow asking for clarification of your intentions for the next 2 weeks.
The following decisions were made this morning for the week ahead:
The moment we are aware of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Armidale we will inform all our families and the next stage in our planning will commence. Depending on the circumstances, this may take the form of a staged closure across the school. We will be doing all we can to cater for our students’ academic needs in the fast approaching winter terms that will inevitably see a challenging few months ahead.
I do hope you are all healthy and managing the additional pressures of the time. If you have any questions, please continue to email [email protected]
Head of School
(Published 17 March, 2020)
What is the current information about the Coronavirus outbreak in NSW and school closures?
As at 17 March, we have not been informed of any plans to implement mandatory closures of schools in NSW. This status is constantly under review and we will communicate with parents as soon as this situation changes.
When will the decision be made to close the school?
Any decision to close the School to students will be made by the Critical Incident Management Team in conjunction with the School’s Executive and will be based on the health and wellbeing of our students and staff. Naturally, any decision made by the State and Federal Governments, or advice from the NSW AIS (Association of Independent Schools) regarding school closures will be considered and acted upon.
What will happen to boarders if the School shuts?
By Wednesday 18 March, all boarder families will have contacted their child’s Head of House to confirm details of likely travel arrangements for their child to return home should the need arise. It is best we are prepared for each boarder’s individual circumstances so we can manage any issues that arise.
If a decision is made to shut the school, all boarders, with the exception of our international students and those who have specific circumstances that make travelling home impossible, will need to go home as soon as it is practically possible for them to do so.
Once any closure is announced, parents are asked to input their arrangements into Reach – our online leave program so we can plan to support any students who cannot return home immediately.
What happens if a TAS student or staff member is found to have contracted or been in close contact with someone with Coronavirus?
The moment we are aware of any student or staff member having contracted the Coronavirus the school will move swiftly into the next phase of the action plan. In this instance, if the student is a boarder, he/she will be isolated in Moyes (which has already been prepared as an isolation unit). If the student is a day student, they will need to stay at home in self-isolation under the care of their parents or guardians.
All staff suspected to have the virus will be required to be at home in self-isolation.
All students and staff who have had contact with the sick person will also need to be moved to isolation. The strategy at this stage would be for containment of the virus ahead of imminent school closure.
What provisions are in place for students who are unwell?
Our Medical Centre is fully prepared to take up to 12 students and while it is not possible for them to be in isolation from each other, they will be separated from the rest of the school. In addition, the currently vacant Moyes Boarding House has been prepared to take an additional 20 unwell students should the need arise.
Our Medical Centre staff have adequate stock of personal protection equipment and the building is having rotations of additional cleaning.
What protocols are in place for students or staff returning from overseas?
Any staff member or student who is still to return from overseas will be required to strictly follow the appropriate Federal and State health guidelines applicable at the time. As at 16 March, all travellers entering Australia will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
I feel my child’s health is compromised and am planning on keeping my child at home now. What do I need to do to notify the school?
Parents must complete an Exemption from School form https://www.as.edu.au/content/uploads/2020/03/Application-for-Exemption-from.pdfand submit to the Deputy Head of School via email [email protected]
How is social distancing being implemented right now at TAS?
We have implemented a social distancing protocol, which is aimed to minimise interactions between students in larger groups. Unfortunately, this will have an inevitable effect on events such as our athletic carnivals, the conduct of chapel, assemblies, choirs and sporting dinners, however, it is important that we take a risk management approach to balancing student and staff safety against maintaining some sense of normality for our community in these disrupting times.
As at 17 March the following plans decisions have been put in place:
What protocols are in place for people visiting the School to avoid passing on the virus?
A number of events which would normally welcome visitors into the school, such as the TAS Rugby Carnival and the Northern NSW da Vinci Decathlon have already been cancelled. This is because of the large number of students involved in each of these activities. The aim is to reduce the interactions between our students and others from outside TAS wherever possible.
Please be aware that the Harwood Swim School is an independent business which operates from the TAS pool. As it is virtually the only basic swimming skill provider, it provides an important service to the Armidale community and as such will continue to operate until we hear otherwise. The school is reducing interaction with the activities in the pool where possible as part of our general ‘social distancing’ protocols.
How will the school manage meals in the Dining Hall?
Meals will continue in the Dining Hall as normal, however, all students and staff are being required to sanitise their hands upon entry and will be encouraged to sit further apart from each other, using recommended social distancing protocols.
We are stretching the overall time allowed for meals where possible and students are being asked not to linger in the Dining Hall unnecessarily in order to minimise the number in the facility at any one time.
Day students are also encouraged to bring a packed lunch from home where possible.
Additional supervision and greater staff involvement is being implemented at meal times so students can reduce the handling of cutlery and serving implements.
What academic preparations have been made for staff and students in the event of the school closing to students?
At the moment, the expectation is that if the school closes and students have to continue classes from home, they will assume a normal school day timetable of 8:45am – 3:30pm.
Staff will deliver classes through a combination of Canvas, video conferencing and email. Teachers may well also use other online educational resources relevant to their faculties. Many of these online resources already form part of our teaching and learning program and as a result, students are familiar with their functionality.
Additionally, students in Years 11 and 12 have access to ‘Atomi’ which provides online tutoring, resources, quizzes and support for students in Years 11 and 12. Students have already received passwords to activate their accounts to utilise this resource.
Please note our Middle and Senior School staff and students today and yesterday began initial testing of video conferencing platforms in their Advisor period. Testing will continue over the next few days to ensure both staff and students are well informed of how to use the video conferencing software.
What are the expectations for maintaining the academic program if the school closes to students?
It is expected that where practicable, all students will continue to maintain their academic work, albeit from home in ‘virtual’ arrangements instead of attending school during any period of enforced closure.
For students in Years 11 and 12 there is additional pressure to continue their academic progress by attending classes in a virtual environment and to study in preparation for assessments. They should expect that these virtual arrangements will commence 48 hours (2 school days) after the closure.
For students from Years 10 to 6, virtual learning will commence 72 hours (3 school days) after closure. This is to allow teaching staff an opportunity to move from face-to-face delivery of content into the online space.
The expectation is that parents will be willing to assist their child in following their existing academic timetable from home. The School is fully prepared to deliver academic content for Years 6 – 12 in a virtual environment via a variety of technical solutions (see below). TAS academic staff are currently preparing for this scenario. When the whole school tested the online ‘virtual’ delivery platform yesterday, students were asked to identify whether they have limited internet connectivity at home. Classroom teachers are aware of these individual situations and will make resources available for them, for example, by USB that can be given to those in need.
What does Virtual Learning really mean?
Middle School & Senior School
The current timetable will still form the basis of all students’ days even when they are learning and studying from home. All our staff have been trained in delivering classes in a virtual environment and in addition, we have video conferencing available through Zoom and Google Meet.
In the event of a disruption to normal classroom operations, Junior School students will be catered for according to their own stage of learning and each classroom teacher will, where possible, provide continued academic teaching and learning opportunities.
As for the senior school, the current JS timetable will still form the basis of all students’ days even when they are learning and studying from home. From Kindergarten to Year 5, a suite of various digital and printed resources will be available to students and their families. The design of this work will be, for the most part, accessible to students but assistance from those at home will be beneficial to enhance the experience (hopefully for all!) The aim is to provide students with a range of relevant and challenging activities that they can share both with other students and their teachers online or on their return to the classroom.
NOTE: For students in Years 1 to 4, please alert your teacher if a School device is required for online access from home.
During normal (and where possible outside) school hours, teachers will be available to assist all students. In the first instance, please contact teachers via email. Where issues arise, please contact the school via the email [email protected] Other, perhaps more urgent issues, should be directed to 67765817 where messages will be regularly checked.
What do I do if my internet connection at home is not good enough?
Students have been asked by their advisor today about their access to the Internet from home. Advisors will pass these names onto the Director of Studies to collate and alert staff. This will then allow for staff to ensure that appropriate resources can be prepared for these students in the event that the school moves to online delivery of content. The same applies for all Junior School students.
What are all the TAS Staff doing at this time and will they be available for my child to contact with academic queries?
The implications of moving to an online delivery of content has been discussed with TAS academic staff over the past fortnight. Staff are aware of and have received training in the platforms that we will use. Teachers will be available to be contacted remotely by students and they will schedule video-conferencing sessions with their classes, as per the published timetable. This will not mean that every single period of the timetable will be a video-conference with a teacher, however, it will be a combination of this, independent work and work set through Canvas.
Students and parents will still be able to contact their teacher and initially, this should occur through email. The class teacher will then respond through email, video-conferencing, phone or through Canvas.
At this stage, most non-teaching staff are intending to be working as usual at school.
What is the status of all the upcoming activities that TAS is involved in?
Please refer to the list in the letter sent on 16 March from Alan Jones. All Term 2 events will be discussed and decisions made in the coming weeks. Parents will be advised as soon as decisions are made.
If you have any questions about these events, please email [email protected] and it will be answered by the appropriate member of staff.
What about the Triple Crown?
The status of the Triple Crown events are as follows
Everyone at TAS is very aware of the significance that the Triple Crown plays in the lives of many of our students as evidenced in the numbers who participate each year. With this in mind, Mr Pennington is planning an alternative Triple Crown for the latter half of 2020 to overcome the disappointment many in our community will feel about the cancellation of many of the key events that usually define it. These alternative events of the same calibre later in the year when it is safe to do so. More information will be sent out in the coming months
What about TAS involvement in the Armidale Eisteddfod?
TAS has decided not to enter the Armidale Eisteddfod in 2020. This includes all aspects of the Eisteddfod; JS Choirs, Senior Choirs, Ensembles and Band Nights. A probable exclusion to this are the composition events (that form a component of the student’s academic assessment), however this is yet to be confirmed.
How do we stay in touch with the school?
Our intention is to continue to publish TAS Talks each week – albeit with slightly different content perhaps. We will, no doubt, have a greater level of electronic contact with parents and students while this virus keeps the school closed to students
Advisors will run sessions online and are very aware of how important it will be for students to keep these relationships strong with the rest of their Advisor group / class during this period.
Our social media platforms will continue to share what good news we can about the achievements of our students.
What recommendations does the school have for families at home during this time?
These are unprecedented times, new and challenging for us all and it comes at the end of a season of drought, water shortages, fire and loss. The TAS community of parents, students, staff and alumni have had a very testing period for some time now, yet we have come through it, all the stronger. Now it is a new test, and we will be prepared and as ready as we can be.
Our advice to all our families is:
And of course:
Practice all the proper hygiene principles of meticulous handwashing, use hand sanitisers, do not touch your face, keep social distance at all times.
How do I help my child at home during this time? What is recommended?
The Department of Education website has some very good information that parents should read so they can assist their child during any period of enforced closure – see
Who do I contact if we have any questions?
Staff who are able to stay at school will continue working at school to make the transition to on-line learning and the virtual delivery of content as easy as it can possibly be. In the first instance, students should contact their Advisor or Homeroom teacher, or email [email protected] if unsure as to the best person to contact for their inquiry.
Deputy Head of School
Dear TAS Parents, Guardians and Students,
As you are all aware, over the weekend the Federal and State Governments made a series of announcements related to their response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the hope that it will reduce the virus’ probable impact on communities. In addition, the Department of Education has cancelled all events, assemblies and excursions for state schools and the Federal Government has effectively banned all events of greater than 500 people.
This letter outlines the situation as we currently know it, the decisions that have been made about upcoming events over the weekend and our plans for the remainder of this week. There are important announcements being made tomorrow in Sydney by the NSW AIS (Association of Independent Schools) and we will update and send a FAQ sheet answering all the questions parents may have.
It is important for you to know that the School’s Executive and Critical Incident Management Team meet regularly to monitor and assess the Coronavirus situation and that plans and training are underway in the event that the School is forced to close. At this point, virtually all schools in NSW are still open but given the situation is fluid, we remain on high alert for any changes to this situation. There are currently no students or staff at TAS who have notified us that they have Coronavirus. We ask that all families let us know if they believe their child has contracted the virus so we can swiftly contain the situation and its impact.
At the end of this letter is a list of all the upcoming events for the remainder of the term and their current status as at today’s date. Please note that in the event of the school being forced to close, all events for the remainder of the term will be cancelled or postponed. To minimise any impact on the school this week, we have taken into account ‘social distancing’ recommendations where possible.
We are following the Department of Education’s guidelines related to school management of the illness. If you are keeping your child at home because they have general flu-like symptoms, please seek medical advice. If they have a fever above 37.3 degrees and a persistent dry cough, please let the school know via [email protected] Any boarder with these symptoms will be isolated in the Medical Centre until they can be sent home.
There is no doubt that this international pandemic is of grave concern and its effect on all aspects of our community will be widespread. Our community, in particular, is still emerging from the effects of a grim period of drought, fire and loss. We are all very cognisant of these factors and are doing all that we can to take this into account as decisions are made. The impact on our students concerns us all deeply, but marshalling our collective goodwill, adaptability and courage will get us all through this uncertain time.
Please read the following pages outlining the status of our events and be in touch if you have any questions via the following dedicated email [email protected]
Take care and stay safe.
Head of School
Dear TAS Parents and Caregivers,
Taking into consideration the new announcements and recommendations today from a number of Australian health authorities and government agencies concerning the ongoing developments of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the responsibilities we have as a school for the health of the people in our community, the TAS Executive have decided to cancel the Northern NSW da Vinci Decathlon event which was to run at TAS on 6- 9 April as well as the TAS Rugby Carnival which was planned for 17,18 and 19 April.
Dear TAS Families,
I write to advise you all of the TAS response and planning now have in place to address the growing concern about the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in NSW and the preventative measures we will take to delay its arrival at TAS.
Our Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) has developed a clearly staged action plan which is updated throughout each day and takes into account advice from the Department of Health, Department of Education, Hunter New England Health, NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) and the NSW AIS (Association of Independent Schools). As at 10 March, we are in in a Precautionary Stage with no known outbreaks of the virus at the School or in Armidale.
The health and safety of our community is our only priority and, because we are also a boarding school, our response has to take into account the distances our families have to travel and the impact of the virus on students, parents and staff. This means that all events involving non TAS students coming to TAS and our students travelling away from the School will be judged on a case by case basis by our CIMT.
The purpose of this letter is to assure you that we have a team in place in both the academic and administrative areas of the School to ensure continuity of education for as long as is possible. As you know, the true impact of this virus is still to be tested, but we hope that a clear, measured response will assist all in the TAS community. Ultimately, if there is a need for students to be at home in isolation awaiting testing, or the School itself has to close for a period of time, our academic staff are equipped and trained to deliver specific subject content to students via Canvas and video conferencing for students in years 6 – 12. This is important particularly for years 11 and 12 where academic continuity is crucial at this stage of their education. The arrangements for our Junior School students will be determined by their classroom teachers.
In the meantime, we are preparing the School with more frequent hard surface cleaning and the promotion of regular hygiene practices using the installed antibacterial / sanitising gel stations around the school in key areas. Our Medical Centre and boarding staff are aware of the symptoms of the virus and have an action plan to follow.
In line with government advice, we ask that all staff, students and parents inform the School as soon as possible if they develop cold and flu-like viral symptoms such as fever (a temperature of 37.3 degrees or higher), cold-like symptoms such as sore throat, headaches, running nose and a cough. If you do have these symptoms, then you need to self-quarantine and report to your doctor or a hospital emergency department for testing. A quarantine period of 2 weeks is recommended to prevent spreading throughout the rest of the community. A doctor’s certificate confirming that a student or staff member is clear of the virus is required before they can return to School.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries, or need to inform me of a suspected case of coronavirus in your family, please email me directly on [email protected]
Deputy Head of School
The TAS Regional Tour is a great opportunity for prospective TAS parents to chat with the Head of School and senior staff when we visit your area.
Why not book a time – and find out what opportunities are available for your child.
If you would like to book an appointment, please follow the link below and we will be in touch with you to arrange a suitable time.
For more information on any of these visits, contact Mrs Jo Neilson on 0425 222 317 or email [email protected]