Can you believe we are already into Week 6 of Remote Learning! We are very proud of the achievements and progress our little Foundation children have made this term and we especially can’t wait to see their happy faces again next week.
This term we introduced Sound Boxes, initially through SMART Spelling and then through the children’s writing. Sound Boxes help students build phonological awareness by segmenting words into sounds or syllables. They teach students how to count the number of phonemes in the word (not always the number of letters) and they help students better understand the alphabetic principle in decoding and spelling. Our Foundation children have been practicing their use of Sound Boxes and they have been doing amazing work in their writing activities. Here are some examples of some of this amazing writing.
I hope this finds you all well and keeping warm on these cold, wintery days.
I can’t believe that we are coming to the end of 6 weeks of remote learning. I cannot express enough how proud I am of the St Mary’s community and the way our staff, parents and students have engaged in, and committed to, this new and unique way of learning. The preparation, presentation and support from our staff has provided a learning environment where, according to the many emails I have received, parents and students have felt that their child’s teacher has walked this journey with them. It is so important that we now turn our focus towards returning to school. Whether all of the children in your home are returning to school, or just some of them, will have an impact on your family. If we prepare for our return to school based learning in the way we prepared for remote learning, the community of St Mary’s will again illustrate the power of teamwork and collaboration, which are vital for our students’ wellbeing and success. I will endeavour to continue to provide clarity and direction regarding the gradual return to school to ensure you are aware and supported moving forward. As always, please remember that I am available should you have any further questions or concerns.
Tomorrow is our Special Specialist Day. On this day, you are invited to participate in any of the Specialist learning that is provided. You are also free to have this as a family day where you spend time engaging in activities that you, as a family, enjoy. Whatever you do tomorrow is entirely up to you. The teachers will be writing their mid-year reports, as this is a mandatory requirement. There is great challenge in writing reports in this environment and your teachers will be conservative in their reporting to ensure they are only assessing what they have seen in your child’s learning. Please do not be concerned if your child hasn’t moved along as you would have expected, your child’s teacher may prefer to wait until we return to school, at which time they will be able to reinforce the learning that has been completed through remote learning and assess your child themselves. This may result in a greater growth in their reports at the end of the year. We ask you not to concern yourselves too much with these reports, it is the learning that you have been witnessing that speaks of how your child is progressing. When we are all back at school, any extra support your child needs will be addressed as best we can. Again, we thank you most sincerely for the lengths you have gone to in order to support your child’s learning at this time and feel proud of all you have achieved.
Just a reminder too, that there is no school on Monday, nor will there be any schooling for the children who have been attending school onsite. This is a pupil free day to enable our staff to prepare for returning to school on Tuesday.
When we return to school on Tuesday we ask that you bring your children via Kiss and Go, where a teacher will be on duty to take your child from the car into school. We understand that there are some children for whom this is not possible, in these cases the parents will be bringing their child into school and leaving as soon as it is appropriate to do so. If your child arrives before 8.30am, they will need to come through the office area, where one of our staff will be available to look after them until 8.30am, at which time they will be able to go to their classroom.
Throughout the day we will be doing everything we can to provide a safe and clean environment for your child. Surfaces will be cleaned regularly, including the toilets, and the children will be allocated equipment to use, which will be cleaned after each use. We are not reinstating the drinking taps at this stage, to prevent children from sharing the taps, so it is very important that your child brings a water bottle to school. Weather permitting, at recess and lunchtime the children will be able to play on the playground, however we will be restricting what they are able to use to enable us to provide a safe and clean environment for the children. At the end of the school day, we ask you to drive through the Kiss and Go and wait in your car for your child to be brought to the car. If you park your car, we ask you to get out of your car so that we can see whose car it is, at which time we will bring your child to you at your car. It is vital that we reduce adult presence in the school as much as possible as this has been advice provided to us to give us the greatest chance of keeping your child safe and well.
If your child is unwell, please do not send them to school as others catching illnesses compromises them at a time where we need to strive to keep ourselves, our children and our staff well. If your child appears unwell while at school, we will call you and ask you to pick them up. For students who are learning remotely but need to be onsite, the same rules apply as for those who are returning to school based learning. These students will be working in their usual learning areas and their teachers will be at school and available to support them with their learning, just as they support the children learning from home. The doors and gates to the school will remain locked during the school day as we need to restrict access to provide a safe environment for your child. The back gate will be opened in the morning and at the end of the school day to allow the bus children to enter and leave the school. At the end of the day a staff member will be on bus duty to supervise any children who need to catch the bus.
For the foreseeable future, we will not be having assemblies or lunch orders, we will also not be sending home take-home books. Instead the students will continue to read using Reading Eggs, which continues to be a valuable resource both for learning and enjoyment. We will not be having any incursions or excursions at this stage and we will not be inviting parents or any other adults into the school unless their presence is necessary. All of these decisions have been made so that we can assure you that we are doing everything we can to create a safe learning environment for your child. We ask that you share any information you deem appropriate with your child in a positive and encouraging way so that they can discuss it with you to gain a positive perspective on what school life will be for them. All of our decisions are based on evidence and advice that we have been given and has been adapted to meet the needs of our community. We will continue to monitor how these decisions are supporting or impacting on our students and will adapt our practices accordingly.
As you have shown throughout this unique and, at times, challenging process, we know we have your support. We assure you that in the decisions we make, we always have the best interest of your children at the centre of all we do. We will continue to keep you informed and are available should you have any further concerns or questions.
As a community we pray for each other and for those who need our prayers. Each day at school we pray for you, our families, that you will know that God walks with you and that, when times are challenging, you will feel his loving presence in your lives.
I hope you have a lovely four days with your children and look forward to seeing you all again very soon. Take care of yourselves and each other.