Dear Parents, Guardians, Carers and Students,
Today I have implemented further measures (listed below) to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through increased social distancing practices for students and staff.
Social distancing is important to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the recommendations from health authorities is that people should endeavour to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and others.
I understand just how difficult practicing social distancing within a school can be but believe if the students and staff understand the ‘why’ there will be more empathy with the measures. My main aim is to stop or slow the spread of the virus within the College so when children return home in the afternoon you (parents, grandparents, community members) are at less risk of contracting the illness.
Currently, no student or staff member has been reported as having been infected with COVID-19 virus.
SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
I would ask that we practice or continue to practice the following strategies to promote social distancing for staff:
- Greetings should take the form of non-contact greetings.
- The highest standards of hygiene should be practiced in staffrooms,
- including washing drink and food containers with hot water and detergent
- and regularly wiping down surfaces with the disinfectant provided.
- Sitting at least 1.5 meters apart or eating at your desk (after wiping the surface).
I would ask that we implement or continue the following strategies to promote social distancing for students:
- When students line up to enter class, they should be encouraged to keep 1.5 metres between each other where possible.
- When students enter and leave class they can now enter and leave individually so a distance of 1.5 metres is maintained.
- Students, especially in secondary, should be encouraged to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between each other and between themselves and staff.
- Where possible, classroom furniture should be rearranged to provide maximum space between tables.
- Seating arrangements should also be changed to maximise distance between students. For example, students can be seated along the short edges and well as long edges of tables, and tables can be moved to the full front, back and side walls of the classroom.
- If we have smaller numbers in class students should be seated individually
- Student group work should be suspended, except where students are collaborating using digital technologies.
- Except for very young students, student work can be handed to a teacher for feedback rather than feedback being provided immediately by the teacher in close proximity to the student.
- Year 7-9 students will have the majority of their classes in a homeroom.
DECLARATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY
The declaration by the Victorian Government of a State of Emergency means that the state now has the power to do the following, among other measures:
- enforce a mandatory self-quarantine period for returning travellers
- enforce a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.
The mandatory self-quarantine period of 14 days for travellers returning from overseas does have implications for students and staff. In brief, students who travel overseas will not be able to attend school for 14 days when they return. Similarly, staff who travel overseas will not be able to attend school for 14 days and will be required to use personal leave to cover this absence.
Clearly, in line with Commonwealth Government revised travel advice, staff and students should reconsider any planned overseas travel during these coming school holidays.
I have had a number of questions around self-isolation for people returning from Overseas. Below is the advice from the COVID-19 from the Australian Governments Department of Health website: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#if-required-to-stay-at-home
You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:
- you have COVID-19
- you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020
If you do not need to self-isolate, you should still protect yourself and others.
How to self-isolate
Self-isolation lasts for 14 days
You must stay at home to prevent the possible spread of the virus to other people.
See specific advice for self-isolation when:
- you are sick
- you are not sick
Staying home means you:
- do not go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university
- ask someone to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door
- do not let visitors in — only people who usually live with you should be in your home
- do not need to wear a mask in your home, but do wear one if you have to go out (for example to seek medical attention)
- should stay in touch by phone and online with your family and friends
For students and children, you should notify the relevant school or childcare centre. Students may want to seek alternate arrangements for remote learning.
If you live in a private house, it is safe for you to go into your garden or courtyard. If you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, it is also safe for you to go into the garden but you should wear a surgical mask to minimise risk to others. You should also move quickly through common areas.
This helps protect yourself and others.
When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms.
What to do if you get sick
Call your doctor for an urgent assessment if you develop symptoms within 14 days of returning to Australia, or within 14 days of last contact of a confirmed case.
See advice for others living with you.
Being in isolation for 14 days can be stressful and boring. Suggestions include:
- keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media
- learn about COVID-19 and talk with others
- reassure young children using age-appropriate language
- where possible, keep up normal daily routines, such as eating well and exercise
- arrange to work from home
- ask your child's school to supply assignments or homework by post or email
- do things that help you relax and use isolation as an opportunity to do activities you don't usually have time for
Advice for others living with you
If you are not well, others that live with you do not need to self-isolate unless they also meet one of the isolation criteria.
However, if you develop symptoms and are suspected to have COVID-19, they will be classified as close contacts and will need to be isolated.
Returning to your community
People who have completed their 14 day period without developing symptoms can return to their daily activities.
SOCIAL STORY FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS
CLICK HERE for a Social Story by Manuela Molina Cruz that parents may find useful when explaining the virus to young people.
STAFF, STUDENTS AND PARENTS
I have found our staff and students to be very supportive, flexible and amazing during this week of upheaval. Their acceptance of the increasingly intrusive measures we are now needing to put in place to keep the school operating safety have been nothing short of inspiring. I am so lucky to work with such a wonderful team.
And to you the parents, carers and guardians, thank you for your support and continued efforts with your children to keep them calm and safe during these difficult times. I and my staff truly appreciate it.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Bright P-12 College