Principal’s Address 27th March 202027th Mar 2020
Kia Ora Tatou
As I prepare my newsletter contribution I am not sure quite what this edition will look like! However, I would like to have an element of normal life and to keep our community informed of life in school.
On Monday the Prime Minister announced that schools were to close and the next stage of our pandemic plan took full effect. As principal it is quite unnerving to put the signs up to say school closed do not enter. During Tuesday and Wednesday we have worked hard to make sure that students have the resources that they require before the shut down.
For parents of students who have received school loan devices please do read the letter that accompanied the device and reply to Mr Scarth via email as described in the letter to accept the use of the device loan terms.
On Thursday teachers started their on line learning. During Thursday and Friday this on line learning has been to ensure that they can connect with students and to answer questions. On Friday afternoon the on line learning closes as we enter into a re-scheduled school holiday. This is a time for students to catch up on missed work. I am aware that a lot of students chose to ‘self-isolate’ prior to the government’s announcement and so may have work to catch up from the last week or so. Teachers will not be following timetables but may respond to emails. I would ask that both students and parents respect the need for teachers to have some down time as term 1 is always busy and the new arrangements have been an added pressure.
Online teaching will resume on Wednesday 15 April. This is after Easter and the public holidays. Teachers are expected to follow the school timetable and should be ‘meeting’ with their students during the timetabled class time. It is important for teachers to know that students are present so that they can adapt and support the learning for students.
Parents, please support students by:
- ensuring that distractions are minimised
- providing a quiet place for students to work
- checking in with the work which has been asked of them and the work which has been completed
- raising questions with mentor teachers early so that support can be provided if necessary.
Please be aware that this is a very new teaching and learning environment for both students and teachers. The teaching programmes will be adapted to accommodate the learning environment. Where possible and appropriate teachers will continue to provide feedback using the portal.
A plea to parents
Some students are joining video lessons on line from their bedrooms. Whilst I appreciate that this may be a quiet place to study in the house it would be appreciated if parents could check that students are wearing appropriate clothing. Ideally a hoodie or jersey! It is not appropriate for teachers to be working with students in their pyjamas.
The following information has been received from the Ministry of Education:
Removing data caps for internet
In addition to Spark, Vodafone, Vocus/Slingshot, and 2Degrees, Trustpower has now also advised they have removed their data caps and the possibility of any extra charges based on usage – Ask.Trustpower.co.nz – “we’ve removed data limits for all fixed-line broadband customers to make sure everyone can stay connected. You’ll be able to keep in touch with family and friends, work or study from home, and receive vital updates without having to worry about exceeding your data limit”.
I am aware that some families do not have internet access (and may not be aware of this newsletter) I hope to be able to provide details in the near future and how the government is going to support you to gain access.
Whilst the school remains closed we would appreciate all students and visitors staying off the school site. The buildings are all secure and alarmed and there is no need for anyone to be on site. There will be no staff on site during the Level 4 closure. We expect that students will be working at home during the normal school hours and have informed the police of our plans for continuing education for our students.
As a school and a significant organisation within the South Otago Community we are treating the Level 4 alert very seriously. I would expect that parents would also be wanting to return to a normal work life as soon as possible. This will happen if we all work together. I am aware that teenagers will want to catch up with their friends. For now this will have to go through their social networks rather than as face to face meetings. I know that this will cause some anxiety and stress but if we work together it is short term. If we ignore the requirements it will become a much longer separation. As parents, please support and make sure that your children are following the guidelines.
For now enjoy the holiday and I will be in touch as we start the new school term on Wednesday 15 April
Ka Kite Ano
Mr Mike Wright