I hope you have had as good a spring break as possible considering the lockdown restrictions on us all at this time. It’s going to be a different term ahead and while we will plan as well as we can, we will need to be flexible and open to change where needed.
It was good news that the ACT Chief Minister announced on Monday that the return to school will be a week earlier for some year levels. We anticipated that it would be a staggered return from Week 5, so it was pleasing to see that K-2 and Year 6 will come back in Week 4 and then Year 3,4 and 5 in Week 5. This is a uniform directive across all education jurisdictions in the ACT: Government; Independent; and Catholic Schools. Therefore:
K, 1, 2 and 6 students will return from Monday 25 October.
3, 4 and 5 students will return from Monday 1 November.
With Year 5/6 being a multi-age class, we are currently planning how we will organise classes in Week 4 and will be in contact with parents closer to the time.
This week, the teachers have been planning and working on Remote Learning for the first 3 (or 4 weeks) of the term, and also on what the return to school will look like for our students once they do come back. Each class teacher will be contact with you with information about the beginning of Term 4.
With Remote Learning continuing, students of essential workers who cannot work from home will continue to undertake their Remote Learning at school with our skeleton staff. To help us plan, we ask that those families requiring this service to please use the following link to book in the days required. https://forms.office.com/r/p4rHu7kiEY
We will continue to operate with a minimum of 3 staff members to maintain the same level of supervision, as prior to school holidays, as we support the school and Canberra community to get through the lockdown with positive health and wellbeing.
We will announce in the first few weeks of the term about what will be happening with: swimming lessons; excursions; whole school events; etc. All plans are on hold at the moment and information will be shared with you as we have clarity around what can take place and how it will happen.
St Thomas the Apostle follows various COVID-19 Safe requirements as advised by ACT Health which seek to prevent and minimise the transmission of COVID-19. The safety and wellbeing of students and staff is the primary consideration of any decision related to re-opening schools. These requirements are designed to:
Minimise unnecessary physical interaction between students on school grounds;
Ensure that students learn and play only with those in their cohort, wherever possible;
Minimise opportunities for transmission and enhance contact tracing; and
Minimise the potential for widespread infection across the school and wider school community.
All our school staff have been encouraged to be vaccinated, and I can confirm that many of our staff are vaccinated or in the process of doing so. Due to Australian privacy law requirements however, I am unable to advise the vaccination status of individual staff.
There are two attachments with this letter that 1) outline the ACT return to on campus learning and (2) measures to keep our school safe.
I am looking forward to the term ahead especially Weeks 4 and 5 when the children return to school.
Yours in partnership Ursula Jamieson Principal
Update Tuesday 14/9
15 Sep 2021
Thank you for your support over the past five weeks as we have implemented Remote Learning as part of the ACT’s health response to COVID-19.
Following advice from the ACT Government and Chief Health Officer presented today, Remote Learning will continue for all Catholic Education primary school students during the first four weeks of Term 4 which begins on Tuesday 5 October.
Catholic Education will be working over the school holidays to develop further plans for a phased return to on-campus learning in Term 4 when it is safe to do so. Any plans will of course be completely subject to health advice, including in relation to case numbers and vaccination rates.
While I am sure this news will be disappointing to you all, the Chief Health Officer has made this decision based on what we know about the COVID-19 outbreak in our community. The health and safety of students, staff and their families, is our number one priority.
During Remote Learning, our school will continue to remain open to students whose parents are required to work outside the family home and who have no suitable care arrangements in place. Those students will be supervised as they access the same Remote Learning program as their classmates. We will send out a survey for attendance during the last week of the holidays.
Please remember the most important thing you can do is support your child’s wellbeing, keeping in mind that children can express their feelings in many ways. I encourage you to speak openly with your children about how they are feeling.
If your child requires extra help and assistance, counselling is available through CatholicCare. To access the service, a booking request may be made by contacting (02) 6162 6100.
You can keep up to date with the latest health information and advice on the ACT’s COVID-19 website www.covid19.act.gov.au
Please contact us if you have concerns or need some support, we are there for you.