Coronavirus Updates

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.

Letter to Parents -3 June 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Re: The return to School for all day and boarding students next week

When I last wrote to you on 22 May, the state government had just announced the full opening of all state schools for face to face learning and I indicated our intention to do the same after the June long weekend should we continue to see a negligible impact of COVID-19 in the New England/ North West. I am very pleased to write today and confirm that TAS will be open for all day and boarding students from Transition to Year 12 from Tuesday 9 June with boarders returning on Monday 8 June.

While we must continue to be vigilant with hygiene, social distancing and more frequent and thorough cleaning, it is important that we have the remaining weeks of this term together as a whole school. I know I speak for all our staff when I say how pleased we will be to have our classrooms and boarding houses filled again with the energy and enthusiasm of our students.

Our Junior School students, Years 6 and 12 are all back at School now and this letter spells out in some detail how we envisage the return of Years 7 – 11 and how the remainder of the term will operate. Once again, I ask for you to please read this letter carefully.

June Long Weekend – Friday 5 June – Tuesday 9 June
To confirm the dates for the long weekend; classes for all students conclude at the end of the day on Thursday 4 June and will recommence on Tuesday 9 June. We apologise if there has been some confusion about when classes end.

Returning to academic classes for Years 7- 11
From Tuesday 9 June, all students including Years 7-11 should be back at School for the commencement of face to face classes. There will be no online classes after this date for the foreseeable future. The timetable will revert to the regular class timetable issued in Term 1.
Any boarders who cannot return to school by this date must follow normal procedure in informing their respective Head of House as soon as possible.

Reminder – Year 12 Classes Friday 5 June and June Long Weekend HSC Study Camp
Ensuring our Year 12 students’ academic program has not been compromised in any way by the advent of the COVID-19, additional focus has been placed on giving these students greater time to prepare for the HSC. Their resilience in the face of online learning, particularly in their final year, has been widely acknowledged by all staff. This Friday, and throughout the long weekend, they have the opportunity to show us all once more how committed they are. Friday classes continue as normal for year 12 and this weekend we have a concentrated HSC Study Camp with teachers and additional tutors in all subjects available for consultation.

I encourage all year 12 students to use this weekend wisely, to consider how close the HSC is, and make the most of the fact that your teachers are as committed to your success as you are.

Hygiene arrangements
All classrooms and Boarding Houses are already equipped with hand sanitising stations and disinfectant spray. Students will be continually reminded of the need to wash and sanitise their hands throughout the day, at the commencement of classes, after using the bathroom and before meals. Prominent signage is across the School in relation to COVID-19 that covers hand washing, personal hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing.

All the medical advice we have received reminds us that while there is less risk of children and young adults contracting or being symptomatic with COVID-19, social distancing is still crucial in order that we avoid any transmission to the adults who work on campus.

Visitors and Parents to TAS
It is important to also reinforce that parent movement around the school campus must be kept to a minimum. Where possible, parents should ring the School ahead of time to arrange an appointment for school business including meetings with teachers and visiting the School Clothing Shop. If possible, parents should remain with their vehicle when on campus and please ring for assistance where required.

Junior School Arrival and Departure
Junior School students’ arrival and departure protocols will continue as they have been for the past few weeks using both the Wakefield and Chapel St driveways. Before and after school will see a significant increase in Middle School boy boarders walking to and from White House at 8.30 am and 3.30 pm.
We ask all vehicles to give way to pedestrians at all times.
Staff will be on hand to monitor this situation carefully and it will be reviewed before the end of term. Please drive with the utmost caution and care when on campus.

Cleaning
Regular and thorough cleaning of the whole school, including Boarding Houses, is pivotal in ensuring we remain safe as a community. The cleaning of classrooms, shared spaces and Boarding Houses has increased and will continue for the foreseeable future.

Medical Centre
Once again I remind all parents to keep their child at home if they display any sign of illness. Staff will be more vigilant around any sign of respiratory illness with students sent immediately to the Medical Centre for further assessment.
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.

Health Screening Prior to Return to Class – Boarding Students
We are very keen to continue our strategy of risk minimisation. Therefore, all boarders returning to TAS from high risk areas will be notified by their respective Head of House of the procedures to be followed prior to their return. This will likely include testing for COVID-19 at the School’s Medical Centre which should only take 24 hours. During this time, it may be necessary for those students to be isolated in the Medical Centre until the results are received. This testing will be at no cost to parents and will take place between 3:00pm and 5:00pm on Monday 8 June.

Boarding Accommodation
Boarding Houses will be open to receive all returning boarders from 3:00pm Monday 8 June. Parents should contact their son/daughter’s Head of House should they need to return earlier or if they are not returning until Tuesday 9 June.

Boarding Leave Arrangements until the end of Term 2
Town or other leave during the week and on weekends for the remainder of this term will be restricted. Leave for boarders wishing to return home on weekends will remain with parents only. All leave requests must be pre-approved by Heads of House through the Reach system. This is a necessary precaution to protect our School community and those in the broader Armidale community.

Additional information about boarders leave arrangements to the end of term 2 can be found included in the email accompanying this letter.

COVID–19 Alert – Whole School Test Run
As you can imagine, the TAS Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) have been working tirelessly on planning for the safe return of our community and I commend them for this work. They have taken into account the plethora of medical advice along with the educational, wellbeing and residential needs of our students to produce a well-considered action plan for our school.

A summarised version of this action plan will be sent to all parents by the end of this week which outlines the processes we will take in the event of a COVID-19 incident. You will also appreciate that we are very keen for all our students to not just understand we have a plan, but for them to know exactly what to do. They need to learn about what ‘contact tracing’ means and the importance of remaining calm. The only way we can ensure that this is as smooth as possible is to practice what to do if there is an incident. To do this, we will be holding a ‘test run’ next week when everyone is back on the campus which will involve seeing staff in PPE gear (this is very important especially for our younger students), hearing the alarm and announcement, moving calmly into set locations and then learning where their evacuation points are.

To remind you again, all parents will be sent a summarised version of this COVID-19 Action Plan so you can understand how we will proceed. We will be all hoping and trusting that we will never have to use it however, it is crucial that we are all prepared.

With best wishes to you all for a safe and restful long weekend,

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Letter to Parents -22 May 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

The safe return of our students back to TAS after this initial period of COVID-19 lockdown is at the forefront of our thinking. Our goal is to balance the safety of our community with the necessity of alleviating the pressures of online learning and our students’ need for face to face teaching, social interaction and a return to a semblance of normality.

I would like to thank you all sincerely for your patience and support of the School at this time. I am very mindful of the additional pressures imposed upon us all in this everchanging landscape, and that the constant distractions of media announcements and predictions about the virus’ path can cloud judgement and clear thinking.

I write to you today with the next stage in our planning, particularly in light of the recent announcement from the NSW Premier that all State schools will be returning to the classrooms on Monday 25 May and not at the commencement of Term 3 as originally anticipated.

Our plan at this stage is for the return of all TAS boarders and day students in Years 7 – 11 after the June long weekend with face to face teaching to resume on Tuesday 9 June (boarders returning on Monday 8 June). However, if we have learnt one thing from dealing with this virus, it is that it is unpredictable and I may well have to write to you again with changes to this plan should an unexpected outbreak occur.

As you would all appreciate, the fact that TAS is a regional boarding school means we cannot open our doors and resume face to face learning as simply as State schools. We have an obligation to our students who live on site, our staff who work here and our local community that has excellent but limited medical resources to draw upon if we are struck by an outbreak of COVID-19 in Armidale. I would also like to remind all families that you should not return your child to school if they are exhibiting any flu-like symptoms. At the commencement of our winter season, it is pleasing to note that the incidence of flu so far is remarkably low which is a positive outcome from the increased awareness of hygiene and collective responsibility.

Our progress in returning TAS students to the School has been deliberate and measured. Transition to Year 6 students are now all back in the classroom and this week also saw the safe return of all Year 12 boarders and day students to TAS for face to face learning. I commend them all for adhering to the new stringent guidelines we have in place around social distancing practices.

We will now have the next 2 weeks before everyone returns to gauge the success of the State school reintroduction. I am also mindful of this week’s COVID-19 incident at St Ignatius College where all students returned to school only to have it close again immediately for a further 5 days for deep cleaning. While their day students can return home, their boarders are locked down in boarding houses.

Without doubt this is a challenging period that requires us all to find limitless supplies of patience and tolerance while still being resourceful. I am reminded daily of how flexible and capable children are and perhaps we can all learn from them. Their examples of creativity and engagement, despite the restrictions of an online learning world, is what we are seeing here as educators. I appreciate that you may not be seeing as much of this behavior as parents with children at home, but I encourage you all to look again. We are in this new era together and if any community can embrace a collegial, positive mindset it is ours.

With best wishes,

Alan Jones
Head of School
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Letter to Year 12 Boarding Parents -12 May 2020

Dear Year 12 Boarding Parents and Caregivers,
Further to the letter sent to all Year 12 Day and Boarding families from Alan Jones on Thursday 7 May, please be advised of the additional arrangements for the Covid-19 testing at TAS on Thursday 14 May from 2pm – 4pm that must be undertaken prior to your child returning to school.

In order to streamline the process as much as possible, parents are all asked to call TAS Reception on (02) 6776 5800 to book an appointment time for their son or daughter to be Covid-19 tested by the TAS Doctor and Medical Staff at the TAS Medical Centre. All parents are to remain in their vehicle while their son/daughter is being tested and all borders will receive a stamp once the test has been performed.

Parents and boarders can then proceed to either Abbott, Dangar or Tyrrell House to be met by their Head of House and boarding staff and unpack their belongings. The Croft House Boarders will be advised of their temporary boarding house when they are at the Medical Centre being tested.
Please be advised that only boarders are to enter the boarding houses upon arrival. Boarders cars are then to be parked in the Croft Carpark, gate code: 1337, and keys handed to their Head of House. There will be no leave allowed until their Covid-19 test results have been processed and approval has been granted by David Drain, Director of Boarding.

Should your son/daughter not be returning to TAS to be Covid-19 tested from 2pm – 4pm on Thursday 14 May, you must notify me via e-mail [email protected] with details of your son/daughter’s expected return date and time. Please be advised that boarders cannot return to boarding houses until they have been Covid-19 tested in Armidale. You will need to contact the TAS Medical Centre for alternative testing arrangements.

David Drain
Director of Boarding
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Letter to Year 6 Parents – 7 May 2020

Dear Year 6 Parents and Families,

Re: Important information concerning the return to school for Year 6 students

I write to you all with specific information for Year 6 parents concerning their return to school next Monday 11th May. Your children will be a very welcome addition to our campus when they return to our Middle School. We have all missed the energy and vitality they bring with them and their enthusiastic approach to all the activities they engage in. I am very pleased to see so many of them participating in the online co-curricular clubs and life skills program we have implemented this term and encourage them all to continue with these despite the fact they will all be returning to face to face classes next week.

My thanks again to all Year 6 parents for your cooperation during this time of lock down and separation. It is a challenging period and one that may be with us for some time as the world grapples with vaccines and solutions to this pandemic. Our goal however is steadfast, to ensure that our students continue along the critical path of their education even if that means temporarily changing our practices to make it safe for all to do so.

Please read this letter carefully because it contains all the information needed for the return of your child to TAS next week. If you have any queries, please contact our Head of Middle School, Mr Mark Harrison or Middle School Administrative Assistant Mrs Robyn Frost, if you have any questions or concerns on [email protected].

Returning to academic classes
As I mentioned in my recent letter, all Year 6 students will return to school on Monday 11 May at which point there will be no further online lessons. All Year 6 staff will return on that date and classes will resume with the usual timetable of face-to-face lessons.

The planned return to school for our Year 6 students takes into account the smaller size of our two classes, the space in which we operate and the capabilities of the School’s administration and academic staff to reinforce the necessary protocols and safeguards for our children.

Students who remain at home can have work provided on Canvas. This material will reflect the classroom program but there will not be additional online Zoom lessons once face-to-face teaching commences.

Intended Absence from School
If for some reason it is not possible for your child to return to school, please let Mrs Frost know as soon as possible.

Daily Health Screening
TAS Middle School will continue to assess the developing situation in relation to COVID-19 and implement strategies that provide the safest and most productive educational environment we can. All students will have their temperatures checked in the morning as they arrive at school.

If a child is deemed to be too unwell to be at school, they will be taken to the Medical Centre until a parent is able to collect them. All current health and safety protocols will remain in place until further notice.

Amendments to the Daily Routine
All extracurricular activities, including sport, will continue online until further notice.

Morning Tea and Lunch
We request students bring their morning tea and lunch from home instead of having these meals provided by TAS. The TAS Dining Hall will only be operational with a very limited menu which may not suit our students who are used to the usual variety we offer. However, if parents and students prefer, lunch can be purchased by Year 6 students and the food will be provided in takeaway containers to be taken to the Senior School quadrangle to be eaten there.

School Arrival
Until further notice, parents are advised that we would prefer students to be dropped off and picked up from school by car to limit their exposure to the virus. However, we do appreciate this is not possible for all families and we have made plans in anticipation of this.

All Year 6 students who will be arriving at school by car must do so between 8.15 am and 8.40 am through the TAS Chapel gates on Douglas Street. The students are to be dropped off outside the Memorial Hall where they will be temperature checked. Please wait inside your car until your child has been assessed before driving off. If they do not meet current NSW Health Guidelines, they will be required to return home immediately. Parents can then exit the school grounds through the main gates on Barney Street.

Students arriving by bus will be required to walk in through the gates nearest the TAS Chapel from the bus stop and meet the temperature check requirements as before. If a student arrives outside this time, temperature checks must be done at Senior School Reception.

School Departure
Collecting your child after school will be similar to dropping off and will occur from the same designated area outside the Memorial Hall. We ask that all parents stay in their vehicle whilst collecting your children. Staff will be supervising this area.

Returning home by bus
Students returning home by bus will do so with the normal practices of supervision in place.

Illness at School
Please monitor your child’s health carefully. If your child presents with any cold or flu symptoms, keep them away from school. If staff have doubts about the health of your child, they will be taken to the TAS Medical Centre and you will be asked to collect them from there.

We must remember that our community includes not just those of us on our campus but also the broader Armidale community. Our mutual responsibility is for the safety of us all.

Once again, I am pleased to be welcoming back our Year 6 students next Monday and look forward to seeing them busily around our campus. I have heard from our very committed and hardworking staff that our Year 6 students have been working hard in the online environment and I also know they will all be looking forward to continuing their classes face to face. We all look forward to welcoming them back next week.

Best wishes,

Alan Jones
Head of School
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Letter to Junior School Parents – 7 May 2020

Dear Junior School Parents and Families,

Re: Important information concerning the return to school for Transition to Year 5 Junior School students

I write to you all with specific information for Junior School parents concerning the return to school for all Transition to Year 5 students. They will be a very welcome addition to our campus when they return bringing with them the sounds of laughter and joy that we have all missed during this month of lockdown and separation.

I would like to thank all Junior School parents for their cooperation during this time and in anticipation of the term ahead, given our normal school routines and programs must be temporarily amended for the safety of all.

I encourage you to read this letter carefully and contact our Head of Junior School, Mr Ian Lloyd or Junior School Administrative Assistant, Mrs Sandra Lasker if you have any questions or concerns on [email protected]

Returning to academic classes
As I mentioned in my recent letter, all Junior School students will return to school on Monday 11 May at which point there will be no further online lessons. All staff will return on that date and classes will resume with the usual timetable of face to face lessons.

The planned return to school for our Junior School students takes into account the smaller size of our classes, the space in which we operate and the capabilities of the School’s administration and academic staff to reinforce the necessary protocols and safeguards for our children.

Students who remain at home can have work provided on request. This material will reflect the classroom program but there will not be additional online Zoom lessons once face to face teaching commences.

Intended Absence from School
If for some reason it is not possible for your child to return to school, please let Mrs Lasker know as soon as possible.

Daily Health Screening
TAS Junior School will continue to assess the developing situation in relation to COVID-19 and implement strategies that provide the safest and most productive educational environment we can. On arrival and throughout the day, student temperatures will be checked by staff. If a child is deemed to be too unwell to be at school, they will be taken to the Medical Centre until a parent is able to collect them.

All current health and safety protocols will remain in place until further notice.

Amendments to the Daily Routine
Any Junior School activity that involves gatherings of larger numbers will be postponed until it is safe for their resumption. This includes assemblies, Chapel, boarders’ lunch, lunch lines and combined choirs.

A return to normal sport will take some time but plans are being developed for a limited, after-school sports training program. More information will be sent to parents as plans progress.

The Music Department will develop a plan for students who would like to continue musical tuition with our peripatetic music teachers and this will be sent to interested parents in due course.

Morning Tea and Lunch
We request students bring their morning tea and lunch from home instead of having these meals provided by TAS. The TAS Dining Hall will only be operational with a very limited menu. Meals can be purchased by Junior School students however, none of the usual choices will be available and the food will be provided in takeaway containers to be taken to the Junior School playground to be eaten. There will be no food consumed by Junior School students in the Dining Hall this term until further notice.

School Arrival
Until further notice, parents are advised that we would prefer students to arrive and depart from school by car to limit their exposure to the virus. However, we do appreciate this is not possible for all families and we have made plans in anticipation of this.

All students should arrive between 8.00 am and 8.40 am with all Junior School cars only driving through the Wakefield gates in Barney St (towards the eastern end of the School) and proceeding to the designated drop off point at the northern end of the Junior School playground.

All parents are asked to stay in their vehicle because there will be no parking in this area to avoid congestion. All students will be met by a staff member and will have their temperatures taken before parents depart. If they do not meet current NSW Health Guidelines, they will be required to return home immediately. Parents will then proceed through to the School’s main exit gate on Barney Street.

As has been the case for the past month, the Chapel St gates near the Junior School turning circle will continue to be locked throughout the day.

Students arriving by bus will be required to walk in through the gates nearest the TAS Chapel from the bus stop and meet the temperature check requirements as before.

If a student arrives outside this time, temperature checks must be done at Junior School Reception.

School Departure
Picking children up after school will be similar to their arrival and will occur from the same designated area at the northern end of the Junior School playground. We ask that all parents stay in their vehicle as our staff will be there to assist students.

To make it more manageable for parents and staff, we will implement the following pick up timetable:
• Transition and Kindergarten at 3.15 pm
• Years 1, 2 & 3 at 3.20 pm
• Years 4 & 5 at 3.30 pm

Returning home by Bus
Students returning home by bus will do so with the normal practices of supervision in place.

After School Care for those on campus
For those students on campus After School Care will be available.
Due to the new arrangements the collection process will be slightly different. To collect your child, please call 67765818 on arrival and they will be escorted to the gate at the northern end of the Junior School playground at the designated Arrival/Departure point.

If necessary, please park near the Memorial Hall but do not enter through the playground gate.

Illness at School
Please monitor your child’s health carefully. If your child presents with any cold or flu symptoms, keep them away from school. If staff have doubts about the health of your child, they will be taken to the TAS Medical Centre and you will be asked to collect them from there.

We must remember that our community includes not just those of us on our campus but also the broader Armidale community. Our mutual responsibility is for the safety of us all.

Once again, I am pleased to be welcoming back our Junior School students next week and look forward to seeing them all in person. I know they have been applying themselves assiduously to their online learning, ably assisted by our very committed and hardworking Junior School staff. However, it is time now for them to return to TAS and to resume their face to face learning and social interaction in a modified form. We are all looking forward to the eventual safe return of all students throughout the school and are pleased to have our Junior School students back with us so soon.

Best wishes,

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Letter to Year 12 Parents – 7 May 2020

Dear Year 12 Day and Boarding Parents and Caregivers,

Re: Important information concerning the return to school for all year 12 day and boarding students

This letter follows the one I sent to all parents yesterday outlining our plans for the coming weeks and the return to school for our students; the information in this letter addresses the specific requirements for the return of Year 12 students and I ask that you read this carefully.

Contained in this letter are details about boarding arrangements that day families should be aware of so all our Year 12 families are cognisant of the additional rigour we must implement into our school routines to ensure the safety of our community. For Year 12, in their final year and under the additional difficulties posed by the COVID-19 virus, this is more important than ever.

Included in the email this letter was sent in, is a link to a series of questions for all boarding parents to answer that will inform the School of the date, time and transport you will use to return your child to TAS. Please complete this survey at your earliest convenience.

Returning to academic classes for Year 12
As a reminder, all year 12 students should be back at school for the commencement of face to face classes on Monday 18 May. The timetable will revert to the regular Year 12 classes and there will be no online classes from this date.
Any student who cannot return to school by this date must inform Mr Luke Polson, Director of Studies on [email protected] so alternative academic arrangements can be made.

When boarders return on Thursday 14 May, they will continue with online classes that day and Friday 15 May from their rooms in the boarding house.

COVID-19 Tracing App
It will be a condition of return to the School that all Year 12 day and boarding students, staff and boarding staff download the Australian Government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app called COVIDSafe which is available on all app purchasing sites. Please ensure your child’s mobile phone has this app installed correctly prior to their return to TAS.

June Long Weekend (6,7 and 8 June) – Year 12 HSC Study Camp
Given the health risks associated with boarders returning home or visiting friends over the June long weekend, and the need to ensure our Year 12 students are feeling prepared and organised for their upcoming assessments, this long weekend will be a closed weekend for boarders and instead it will be an HSC Study Camp for all Year 12 students. More information will be sent ahead of time, but boarding parents need to be aware that their child will not be leaving School over this weekend.

Health Screening Prior to Return to Class – Day Students
A very important condition for returning Year 12 students is to ensure that they are not bringing the virus back to school with them. Given the strict lockdown rules in place in Armidale over the past month and the absence of any known cases of the virus here, we ask that any day student who is sick does not come to school. They will need to inform Mrs Seonia Wark, Deputy Head of School by email [email protected] so the School is aware of the reason for the absence and they can only return to school when cleared of symptoms following the necessary COVID-19 test.

All students will have their temperature taken when they arrive to school in the morning, and again at lunch time. Anyone with an above average temperature will be sent to the Medical Centre immediately and from there will have to go home until they have recovered.

Health Screening Prior to Return to Class – Boarding Students
Year 12 Boarders will need to return to TAS on Thursday 14 May to allow for the additional health screening as outlined below unless they have informed Mr David Drain, Head of Boarding on [email protected] and made alternative arrangements.

The health screening arrangements for returning boarders and residential staff will be as follows:

1. A general health assessment plus testing for COVID-19 will be conducted by the School Doctor from Rusden Street Medical Practice assisted by our own Medical Centre staff. This testing will be at no cost to parents and will take place in the Memorial Hall between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on Thursday 14 May.

2. Boarding parents will need to schedule their return to school to coincide with this testing and we will be circulating to you a link to a booking system and also a consent/ registration form to facilitate this.

3. Boarders will then be accommodated in the boarding houses with strict social distancing measures in place until the results of the COVID-19 tests are returned to the school from Rusden Street Medical Practice.

Please also note that this testing is a strict condition for return and we will not be able to accommodate your child until this testing has been performed on site.

Boarding Accommodation
Year 12 boarders are able to return to the boarding houses from 2:00 pm Thursday 14 May.

Given that we will only have Year 12 boarders on site and to assist with housekeeping, utilities costs and supervision, the girl boarders will be temporarily accommodated in Dangar House and the boys in Abbott and Tyrrell Houses.
Abbott and Tyrrell House boarders will return to their Term 1 rooms and Croft House Boarders will be evenly allocated to either Abbott or Tyrrell House. That means that Croft House, White House and the Girls Boarding House will remain closed until further notice.
Staff from Girls Boarding and White House will work in Dangar House with the Dangar House Staff, while staff from Croft House and White House will work across Abbott and Tyrrell Houses with the Abbott and Tyrrell House staff.
To assist with social distancing, we are aiming to allocate as much space to each student as we can. Where we are not able to allocate a single room under this temporary arrangement your child may be allocated to part of a shared dormitory, operating at no more than 25% capacity. Please bear with us in these circumstances if this is the case.

Boarding Leave Arrangements
Town or other leave during the week and on weekends will not be permitted unless boarders are on leave with their parents. This must be pre-approved through the Reach system.

Parents are to collect their son/daughter from their boarding house and report to the staff member on duty before they depart. Upon return, parents and their son/daughter must report to the boarding staff member on duty and sign back in via Reach.

Whilst on leave, boarders must remain with their parents and adhere to social distancing regulations in line with government guidelines.

Transport – Use of Cars and Parent Pickup
Attached to this letter is a survey asking parents to indicate how they will be returning to School. Please ensure it is completed as soon as possible.

Year 12 boarders who return in their own vehicles will hand their keys to Mr Chris Cook (for those residing in Tyrrell House), Mr Ben Cook (for those residing in Abbott House) or Ms Catey Curtin (for those residing in Dangar House). All boarders cars will be parked at the Croft House carpark.

As per the above leave requirements, these cars will then not be able to be used under any circumstances, unless approved, in writing, by the Director of Boarding, Mr David Drain, [email protected]

Hygiene arrangements
Houses will 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.
Students must adhere to the current school policies on personal grooming (haircuts/facial hair), uniform and jewellery at all times.

Allocation of Bathrooms
Bathrooms will be subjected to additional rigorous social distancing rules as these are a key area for all community-based living representing an elevated risk area for the spreading of virus and bacteria.
Depending on the size of the bathrooms, we will ensure that only 3 – 4 shower and toilet cubicles are in use at any one time. Each student will be assigned a specific bathroom and will not be permitted to use any other bathroom inside the boarding house in which they reside. This is designed to limit the possible cross-transmission of virus and bacteria.

Boarding House Kitchen Areas
The House kitchens can only be used with the permission of the staff member on Duty. This is to ensure cleanliness, sterility and maintaining focus on both social distancing.

Common Areas and Student Rooms
The foyer and common room areas of each Boarding House – along with outdoor spaces -need to be considered areas where only a minimal amount of time is spent.
In line with current NSW Health Guidelines for shared accommodation, boarders will not be permitted to spend any longer than 40 minutes in these spaces. We will also require students to ensure they absolutely minimise the time where they are together in groups and that they maintain a minimum distance of 1.5m thus adhering to the guidelines.
Boarders will not be able to spend time in another student’s room or dormitory.

Laundry Services
The School’s laundry services will operate a daily service as per normal and all dirty laundry will be required to be emptied each night to be available for daily collection by the laundry staff. This is an important step in keeping rooms sanitised as much as possible.

Cleaning
Regular and thorough cleaning of the Boarding Houses is pivotal in ensuring we remain safe as a community. The cleaning of the House will be both increased and amended to reflect the prevailing COVID-19 conditions.
Students will be required to keep their own rooms/areas particularly clean, in order to allow our school cleaners to properly vacuum floors, to ensure airflow and also for students to regularly sanitise their own touch surfaces and door-handles. This responsibility will be expected by all boarders.

Dining Hall
Everyone must use the hand sanitiser provided as they enter and leave the Dining Hall which has been be set up appropriately and arrangements to the tables must not be changed by students. Boarders will adhere to the regular dress standards when having meals in the Dining Hall.

All students will be encouraged not to linger or socialise in the Dining Hall and it must be left in a clean state when they leave. Everybody will be expected to keep the 1.5m rule during this time.

All boarders will have meals in the Dining Hall during select rostered times until the test results are completed and we have confirmation that our community is free of the virus.

Only year 12 boarders and residential staff will be allowed in the Dining Hall during breakfast and evening meal times.
Year 12 day students may elect to join boarders during lunch, however other staff and students will eat outside of the Dining Hall.

Medical Centre
The Medical Centre will operate as normal, however with an added focus on social distancing. Students will undergo routine health assessments, such as temperature checks during the course of the day in order to try to identify any illness as soon as possible.

Any student who displays any sort of respiratory illness signs will be isolated and tested as soon as possible. Isolation may occur within the Medical Centre or within a smaller contained Boarding House such as Moyes House which has been prepared for this purpose.

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.

Co-curricular Activities and Sport
Training sessions will be arranged most afternoons, across a number of sports including rugby, athletics and netball. All boarders will be strongly encouraged to participate in these activities by attending at least three afternoon training sessions per week.

Please also note that students should return to TAS with their own water bottle and gym towel so as to eliminate any sharing of personal items.

Boarding Fees for Term 2
As I have previously communicated, we have implemented changes to the fee arrangements for this term. As a reminder to our boarding parents, all boarding fees will be billed monthly in arrears for weeks spent in boarding.

Final Caution
It cannot be over-emphasised how important it is that everybody adheres to all of the new arrangements. We all need to realise that the consequence of a breach could lead to the complete closure of TAS boarding by Health Authorities should an outbreak occur.

Any student who fails to adhere to these conditions, or the rules currently in place pertaining to TAS boarding, will subsequently need to be collected by their parents within 24 hours of being notified of the incident occurring.

A decision will then be made by the Head of School and Director of Boarding regarding when they will be allowed to return to TAS boarding. Please note that should a transgression occur during Term 2 the likely return time would be the commencement of Term 3.

As we have heard so much since this pandemic began, these are unprecedented times and as the content of this letter indicates, it will require our collective strength to do all we can to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Our Year 12 students have shown great courage and resilience in the face of this virus and the altered plans for their final terms. I thank them sincerely for this and ask once again that they draw on the necessary maturity and leadership to help them through this term.

Best wishes,

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Letter to Parents – 6 May 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

As this new term gets underway, I write to you all once again with an update on our plans and intentions for the weeks ahead given the latest school announcements from various government and education authorities that has seen the lifting of certain restrictions that have previously limited our planning.

My hope is that this letter finds you and your children are safe and well and that our foray together into online learning is becoming more familiar as the days progress.

We all share the desire to have our students return to school for face to face classes as soon as it is possible, and this depends on us doing all we can to keep our students and staff safe. Included in our deliberations about how to approach our students’ return to school, is understanding that Armidale’s medical capabilities are not as exhaustive as those in the cities, and that we have a responsibility to consider the whole community and not just those who walk through our gates.

Our planning over the past weeks has been based on understanding that Covid-19 will remain a threat to us all until an appropriate vaccine can be developed and is accessible to us all. This may be 18 months to two years away and in the meantime, we have to ensure that the protocols we have in place are working and that the necessary behavioural changes demanded of us all in this time, are adhered to.

What has become apparent across the world, is that the impact of this virus is not just physical, but is also on our mental health as the strain of isolation weighs upon us. Our goal is for the School’s Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) to make all the vital adjustments to our policies, protocols and practices so that we can stage a return for the mutual benefit of students and staff alike. Among these will be necessary changes to classroom layout, meals in the Dining Hall, temperature checks, cleaning regimes and boarding arrangements.

With this in mind, I am pleased to announce the following:

1) Junior School students from Transition to Year 5 will return to school from next week, commencing Monday 11 May. All classes from this date will be face to face and there will be no online learning.

This will not be a staged return as is being considered by state primary schools because the TAS Junior School is comparatively small and we believe we can manage the necessary social distancing, health checking, increased hygiene and cleaning of surfaces for the student numbers we have. There will be temperature checks on all students as they arrive in the morning with their general health being monitored throughout the day, we will postpone assemblies and combined choirs, and make further adjustments as required.
If there is any family choosing not to send their children to Junior School because of personal circumstances, please contact Ian Lloyd. Additional detailed information will be sent to all our Junior School parents concerning the arrival and departure of students from the campus, co-curricular sport and arrangements for after school care.

2) All Year 6 will return to face to face classes from Monday 11 May. The majority of this year group are day students and we can manage the resumption of their lessons from this date. Their timetable will revert to their usual timetable with 45 minute classes. The co-curricular program covering sport, creative arts and clubs will continue in the online version promoted through canvas. Additional information will be given to all Year 6 students when they return.

3) All Year 12 boarders and day students will return to TAS for the commencement of face to face classes on Monday 18 May. There will be no online lessons for Year 12 from this date and the normal Year 12 timetable with 45 minute lessons will resume.

Given half our senior school population are boarders, we are taking their return seriously and with caution. Our priority at the moment is for the return of Year 12 who, as we have heard from NESA, in terms of formal exams, face an almost unchanged HSC this year despite the challenges they have had to accept in the delivery and management of their curriculum in the final year of school. There will be additional focus on their academic program for the remainder of the year and more information will be sent directly to them regarding this.

No Year 12 student however is allowed to return to school if they are unwell. To ensure their safe readmission to TAS, all Year 12 boarders will need to have a Covid-19 test, performed by the school doctor, at the TAS Medical Centre on Thursday 14 May between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. They will then be allowed to return to the boarding houses and be in isolation until the test results are returned. We expect to receive all results before the resumption of classes on Monday.

Additional detailed information will be sent to all Year 12 day and boarding families today.

Any Year 12 student who is unwell and cannot physically attend school on 18 May will need to contact Luke Polson, Director of Studies so suitable guidance and arrangements can be made. His email is [email protected]

4) The School still remains open for those day students whose parents are essential workers to ensure they can continue their online classes under supervision here at TAS until further notice.

As the colder weeks quickly approach, the reintegration of Years 7 – 11, including the return of boarders in these year groups, will be determined by the successful return of Year 12s, Year 6 and Junior School, as well as the local management and containment of any cases of the virus as winter descends. For these groups, I ask for resolute and determined focus on your online learning until we are able to bring you back safely to the School.

Additional information will be sent to all parents as the situation changes and plans adjusted if need be. In the meantime if you have questions please email [email protected]

With kind regards to one and all as we face this journey together.

Alan Jones
Head of School
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Resource Pack for Parents and Students

We hope this resources pack of useful information helps you with your online learning journey throughout Term 2.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 6776 5800.

Co-Curricular DL Flyer (Web 

e-Learning Pack for Parents (Web)

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Letter to Parents – 25 March 2020

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.

NAPLAN 2020
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

IT Support

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.
https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-from-home/advice-to-parents-and-carers
Luke Polson
Director of Studies

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Letter to Parents – 23 March 2020

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:

  • Postponing the Athletics Carnivals for both Junior School and Senior Schools until later in the year.
  • Cancellation of weekly Prefects Assemblies.
  • Increasing numbers of hygiene stations around the school.
  • All TAS facilities, including the pool and Weights Room, are now closed to all external users.
  • We encourage parents of day students to consider dropping off and collecting their children by car instead of using school buses.

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]

Yours sincerely,

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Frequently Asked Questions

(Published 17 March, 2020)

Closing the School to Students

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.

Students or staff contracting Coronavirus

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]

Social Distancing

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:

  • All assemblies have been cancelled
  • Boarders chapel is live-streamed into the Boarding Houses
  • Senior School recess is now outside rather than in the Dining Hall
  • Meals in the Dining Hall will be staggered from 18 March with reduced time for eating, greater distance between people and food served by staff rather than self-serve.
  • Students and staff have been asked not to linger in the Dining Hall after their meal.

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.

Academic preparations for virtual learning

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.

  • Canvas is the school’s Learning Management System which all students are now very familiar with and houses content for all subjects. This platform has been in place at TAS now for a number of years. Canvas allows for the online submission of work, discussion boards, sharing of resources and completion of quizzes. Staff and students have been trained in the use of Canvas and it currently forms part of our regular teaching and learning.
  • Zoom allows for corporate scale online video conferencing and chat. Staff and students are being trained in the use of Zoom. This will allow students and teachers to connect and meet in a web-conferencing situation. Additionally, the School has a number of external cameras which can be used to stream content from classrooms and demonstrations etc. Zoom will be the School’s preferred platform for video-conferencing with students.
  • Google Meet also offers video-conferencing and chat online, similar to that of Zoom. Staff and students have been trained in the use of Google Meet and will be used as a back up platform if required.

Junior School

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.

  • Kindergarten to Yr 2 will have hard copy booklets provided for collection from the Main Reception Office (and those with appropriate access can receive these digitally). These booklets will have a range of relevant work to be completed by the student for completion at their own pace. See Saw and other applications may also be used for some lessons and/or student/teacher exchanges.
  • Year 3 to 5 will have worked distributed via various online sources. These will be confirmed soon, but will include both email and Google Meet, both of which have been used with the majority of our students already. Further instructions will be forthcoming as required.
  • Google Meet offers video-conferencing and chat online, similar to that of Zoom. Staff and students have been trained in the use of Google Meet and will be used as a back up platform if required.

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.

Co-curricular Activities

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

  • Tour de Rocks – postponed until later in the year
  • Coffs Ocean Swim – Cancelled by the event organisers
  • City to Surf- no information at the moment, unlikely to proceed
  • Hawkesbury Canoe Classic – no information at the moment

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.

Staying Connected and Keeping Healthy

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:

  • Stay in touch with each other and the school
  • Eat nutritious healthy food
  • Exercise safely at home to improve concentration, maintain fitness and academic focus
  • Sleep well
  • Drink lots of water
  • Maintain your hobbies – and if this is not possible, develop some new home-based ones
  • Limit your time on technology gaming and using social media

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

https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-from-home/advice-to-parents-and-carers

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.

 

Seonia Wark
Deputy Head of School

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Letter to Parents – 16 March 2020

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.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Letter to Parents – 13 March 2020

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.

The decision also follows the lead of Knox Grammar School to cancel the da Vinci Decathlon in Sydney, and many other schools to postpone similar large-scale events.

We know how much these events mean to our students, the wider student community in Armidale as well as those who come to our school from far afield. However, both these signature events bring many hundreds (and thousands in the case of the TASRC) in to Armidale and we are very aware that this would increase exposure within our town to possible inadvertent carriers of Coronavirus. Many sporting fixtures are under scrutiny from those authorities with greater knowledge of the risks of this virus and while we are saddened by our decision to cancel these events, we are also very aware of the more serious potential threat to the whole community by running them.

Thank you for your patience and understanding with this decision and I hope that you are taking care of yourselves at this time of uncertainty. We will keep you abreast of all further decisions and actions that may need to be taken as the situation continues to develop. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Deputy Head of School, Mrs Seonia Wark who is coordinating our response to the Coronavirus if you have any additional questions. Her email is [email protected]

With best wishes

Alan Jones
Head of School

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Letter to Parents – 10 March 2020

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]

Yours sincerely,

Seonia Wark
Deputy Head of School

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