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COVID-19 Updates for Galen Parents

25 March 2020

Dear Galen Parents, Carers and Guardians,

As we have now become used to, the situation we find ourselves in has continued to change. We are now being urged in the strongest terms to adhere to strict conditions limiting social contact to the bare necessity.

Reminder re children and social gatherings

I urge all parents to make sure your children understand the implications of “social distancing” needed to curb the spread of the virus: no sleep-overs, no parties, no “catching up for a coffee” with friends, no dropping into the local park or school to play footy or basketball. Over the course of yesterday, the first day of the holidays, we were concerned about the number of groups of friends out riding, walking, playing together in and around the school which defeats the whole push to limit direct inter-personal contact. We are also aware of many, many posts on social media of Galen students catching up with each other and socialising in clear breach of social distancing requirements.

Heads-up re Year 12

Our Year 12 students in particular have been placed in an uncertain position regarding what is and what is not ok for them. On Thursday, I will email the next update which will include specific information and advice for Year 12 students and their parents.

What Galen has done / is doing

At Galen we have undertaken the following since the last update:

  • Developed an overview of what online learning will look like at Galen for students, staff and parents. This overview will be emailed to parents and students late Thursday: it will provide valuable introduction to what is likely to be implemented at the start of next term
  • Staff have continued to work on the development of their course resources for use in remote / offsite learning: this is a massive transition for both the staff as deliverers of the courses and your children as learners.
  • We have postponed all enrolment interviews for next year’s prospective Year 7 students until the current restrictions on social isolation are lifted. Enrolment offers will be brought forward to early May
  • We have implemented strict social distancing protocols for staff and visitors to the school, including the redeployment of staff into work centres affording greater spaces between them
  • Some staff have commenced working from home in light of personal circumstances (eg looking after their school-aged children who are now at home on holidays)
  • We continue to adapt our practices in light of each changing circumstance: this is the new reality for all of us.

Some (hopefully) helpful advice for parents with kids at home

I came across an article in “The Educator Australia” on Monday which had some helpful advice for parents on how to keep your children calm given the likelihood of a lengthy time at home. You can access the full article (which has excellent suggestions for each of the 8 headings below) at:

https://www.theeducatoronline.com/k12/news/how-to-keep-kids-calm-at-home/270628

Here is a summary of the suggestions from the article:

  1. Don’t panic and hold steady in these times of uncertainty 
  2. Find out what they’ve already started in class 
  3. Establish routine including weekly goals broken into daily tasks
  4. Scheduling: time for learning and time for rest/leisure
  5. Technology: balance is the key, with clearly defined rules, which you reinforce & stick to
  6. Creating authentic learning experiences by example: show how you care for others 
  7. Use the time to connect with your child 
  8. Be kind to yourself 
  • These are extraordinary times. Know that you’re not alone. Reach out to teachers, other parents, friends and family. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.  

Regards,

Bernard Neal
Principal

 

Monday 23 March 2020 – 7:18pm

Dear Parents and Guardians

I write to you to reiterate that our school will follow the recommendation from the Victorian Government and the Chief Medical Officer that school holidays commence from Tuesday 24 March.

As a result, Monday 23 March will be the final day of classes for Term 1, 2020.

Students have been asked to ensure they take all of their learning devices, schoolbooks and stationery home at the conclusion of classes today.

For those parents who are currently working in essential services (ambulance, fire, hospitals, medical profession etc), the school will be providing supervision for their children during school hours for the remainder of this week. If you work in essential services and are intending to send your child to school, could you please click on this link https://tinyurl.com/wgtzzol  to notify the school as to the essential service you are involved with along with your child’s name, homeroom and year level.  This will allow us to have adequate supervision during the day.

We expect that Term 2 will begin for staff on Tuesday 14 April, which is a student-free day, with students returning as scheduled on Wednesday 15 April.

Any changes to these dates will be guided by the ongoing advice of the Chief Health Officer, and will be communicated to parents.

DHHS has a number of resources on their website, which explain the virus, detail risk reduction practices and behaviours and answer frequently asked questions. The website address is www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.

You can also find information about Catholic education’s response at http://www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Coronavirus-information-for-parents.

In the meantime, we thank all in our community for your ongoing understanding as we seek to keep our school communities safe.

Further updates will be provided if there are additional changes.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the school directly.

Yours sincerely

Bernard Neal
Principal

 

Sunday 22 March 2020 – 9:17pm

Good evening Parents, Carers, Guardians, students and staff.

We continue to enter uncharted territory for all of us.

As of 9.15pm this evening there has been no further information from the Dept of Education or the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria regarding details beyond the finish of term 1 tomorrow. I expect to receive such information some time between now and when school starts tomorrow morning. I will communicate this information asap after receiving it but that may well be sometime on Monday morning.

What I can confirm at this stage is the following: 

  • The last day of Term 1 will be tomorrow, Monday 23 March – all students are expected to attend as normal and classes will run as normal
  • All buses are running as normal for both morning and afternoon runs at the usual times
  • This is not a school closure, it is an early start to the holidays
  • School holidays start from Tuesday 24 March
  • The format for school tomorrow is:
    • Normal Monday timetable
    • Period 6 will be shortened by 15 Minutes
    • All students will attend homeroom for the final 15 minutes of period 6. This will allow for a full clean-out of lockers. Students may wish to bring a second bag with them.
  • All scheduled VCE SACs for this week have been cancelled except for some Further Maths students: these students have been contacted separately by Mr Batters. VCAA website has an announcement that they will have more details for schools and students on Monday. The school will forward all relevant information directly to the students.

We are in the very early stages of the impact of COVID-19. There is no doubt that there will be further changes as the pandemic reaches its peak in Australia. We will continue to adapt our approaches and to meet our obligations to provide a quality education for Galen families.

Over the coming days, we will be working at Galen to prepare for the increasing likelihood that when Term 2 commences we may be totally reliant in providing off-site online learning. We will have some clear details for you  – parents, students, staff – later this week as to what that will look like.

Please do not hesitate to contact the school if you have any queries.

Regards
Bernard Neal,
Principal

 

Sunday 22 March 2020 – 4:30pm

Dear Galen Parents, Carers, Guardians, staff, and students,

With the Premier having released a media statement this afternoon re Victorian school holidays starting early, I am waiting on a formal communique from the Catholic Education Commission Victoria about what this means for Catholic schools.

As soon as I receive that communique I will forward the news to you all. The Galen Leadership Team will meet later this afternoon/evening to clarify what this will look like at Galen. I will also let you know the outcome of that meeting either later this evening or first thing on Monday morning.

As we keep acknowledging,  this is rapidly changing situation: I would rather err on the side of giving you too much information rather than too little.

Please stay safe, everyone, and remain as calm as possible in the circumstances. By working together, we will be able to weather the worst of this storm over the coming weeks and months.

Regards
Bernard

 

Saturday 21 March 2020 – 7:30pm

Good evening, Parents, Carers and Guardians.

This is the 4th formal communication with you in response to the unfolding and evolving COVID-19 situation.

I received official notification today (Saturday) that Catholic schools in the Sandhurst diocese will be following the Victorian Department of Education and Training directive to its schools declaring pupil-free days on the last day of this term (Friday March 27) and the first day of second term (Tuesday April 14) in order “to prepare for the possibility that we will need to move at some stage to more flexible learning arrangements, including remote learning”.

Galen had already planned for this Friday to be pupil-free as the staff were to engage in scheduled professional learning activities. We had already cancelled the professional learning activities so that we could focus instead on furthering our preparations for such an eventuality.

In summary, then:

  • Friday March 27 will remain pupil-free for Galen
  • Tuesday April 14 will now also be pupil-free for Galen
  • Second term will now commence for Victorian schools including Galen on Wednesday April 15.

We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will continue to communicate with the wider Galen community whenever we receive new information.

Regards,

Bernard Neal
Principal

 

16th March, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

We are living through extraordinary and difficult times for all of us. The safety and wellbeing of all our students, staff and community members is paramount in all of the decisions that we are currently making.

In line with Government direction our school will remain open until we are instructed otherwise and all classes will continue with our scheduled timetable.

Our teachers will continue to use existing channels of communication such as email, Google classroom and SIMON to ensure continuity of learning. Galen is well positioned in our preparations to deliver courses remotely in the event of the Government calling for school closures. We spent several hours today as a staff addressing this.

Further to this information we have cancelled or postponed upcoming excursions, camps and other trips for the remainder of this term. This includes:
• Subject excursions and camps
• Social justice student visits to Illoura
• the Galen Debutante Ball
• the Galen House Athletics Carnival
• the Galen Talent Quest
• the Galen Breakfast club
• Year 7 Retreats
• Timor Lesté Immersion
• Representative school sport

The Galen Resource Centre will remain open for students to borrow books and to complete individual school work. The centre will be not be available for students to use board games, playing cards and for social gathering before and after school, during recess and lunch time.

During this time, we ask that all students:
• maintain good hygiene by regularly cleaning their hands with soap and water
• carry a drink bottle (water bubblers will be switched off; however, water stations are available for filling water bottles)
• maintain social distancing requirements when possible (1.5 metres apart).

As always, we must be mindful of all members of our community and therefore if students are not feeling well you are encouraged to remain at home. As usual please contact the school to notify of any absences.

It is important that if students do not feel well when they are at school, they report to First Aid and parents will be contacted to pick them up.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the school if you have any queries. This is a fluid; everchanging and unique set of circumstances and we will have quite some time of it ahead. We will continue to keep you informed as circumstances develop.

Yours sincerely

Bernard Neal
Principal

 

16th March, 2020

Dear Year 11 and 12 students,

Further to the email from the college, our teaching, learning and assessment program will continue until we are advised otherwise.  We understand that there will be a number of you that will not be able to make it to school for various reasons over the coming weeks.  Attendance at school is important, but your health and wellbeing, your family’s health and wellbeing and the community’s health and wellbeing is more important. 

It is expected that you continue with your learning program as much as is practical. If you are absent from a Unit 3 SAC, or SAT please ensure that you provide a Statutory Declaration to Mr. Watson or Mr. Batters so that the task can be rescheduled. We will work with individuals to make appropriate arrangements.  Absences from year 11 assessment tasks will need to be negotiated with your class teacher. 

Our advice is being taken from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority:
https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/news-and-events/latest-news/Novel%20coronavirus%20updata/Pages/default.aspx

We will be continually monitoring this and other sources and updating our plans if and when appropriate.

Kind regards,

Anthony Batters
Head of Senior School