The Covid-19 pandemic is placing us all in very uncertain and uncharted waters. The Hon. President’s announcement on 9 April 2020 of a 14 day extension to the current lock down has further extended the period of uncertainty and difficulty we all face.
The Hon. Minister of Education has shared a plan by the Department of Education to cater for the various scenarios that confront us and has re-iterated that drastic measures will need to be taken going forward so as not to disadvantage any learner, including scrapping of all remaining school holidays, trimming the curriculum and extending the school day upon return.
We would like to assure you that our School Governing Body is meeting online on a regular basis to discuss the way forward along with all relevant information available. We, along with the staff, have only one goal: for your daughters’ education not to be disadvantaged in any way. Our approach is that we need to do what is best for ALL our learners. Our decisions have and will always be based on that, single over-riding objective. Accordingly, our thinking is informed by the following:
1. The School year will be completed: Government has been adamant that the year will be completed, even if that means scrapping all remaining holidays, trimming items from the curriculum and shifting the curriculum over 2 years.
2. No Child will be left behind: the SGB cannot, and will not, endorse any teaching approach that effectively discriminates between children based on their access to technology, the internet, resources at home and by extension on their socio-economic level. It is very clear to us that any exclusively distance learning platform will leave a considerable number of children behind.
3. Parents are not teachers: Parental assistance and support is VITAL for any meaningful learning; however, we do recognise that parents are not trained to be teachers and that many will feel ill equipped and apprehensive about stepping into that role.
4. Distance education is not home-schooling: There is no doubt that we will need to re-think existing paradigms, very few resources and parents are entirely capable of replicating the required intensity of home learning required to complete the entire curriculum via distance education.
Taking that all into account we have decided on the following approach:
1. Consolidation of existing work, skills and revision: All worksheets being sent home are for revision and consolidation purposes. We encourage our pupils to do them, but they will not be used towards assessment. During this time parents can help their children with basic skills and should insist upon reading, times tables and other basic English and Maths skills. We are mindful of the fact that many children don’t have a printer, access to technology, or might have left their textbook and workbooks at school, hence we don’t want to add additional distress to those parents who are already dealing with so much anxiety.
2. There are incredible and fun resources available: Links to additional resources are continually being placed on our Facebook page and updated on D6. These are purely for interest sake and if your daughters are looking for additional activities to keep busy. Many, very high-quality resources are available for this limited time and you really should try them out. They will certainly help your daughter.
3. Children need feedback: Work will continue to be sent out via D6, but teaching is a 2-way process; without feedback and help from teachers many children will struggle. Therefore, Class WhatsApp groups will be set up by the class teachers over the next couple of days. Revision worksheets will continue to be placed on the D6 Communicator, but if there are any questions regarding the work that has been sent, these can be directed to the class teacher via the WhatsApp group on weekdays between 9:00 and 14:00. We request that you adhere to these times and respect the teachers’ privacy.
4. Grade 7 is a special case: Because Grade 7 is vital in preparation for High School, a different approach will have to be used for them. They will be making use of Google Classroom. Instructions will be sent via the D6 Communicator to ensure that the Grade 7 girls know exactly how to make use of this platform. This will be used for the Grade 7s to communicate with their teachers in more depth should there be any questions regarding the work being sent. Their teachers will indicate if activities being sent are for assessment purposes.
5. This time is very hard on our girls: If your daughter is battling emotionally and you feel that you would like her to communicate with our School Counsellor, please contact her class teacher via the WhatsApp groups. The class teacher will put Miss Zazini in contact with you.
6. What About Fees: Once we return to school, we would like to guarantee you that lost teaching time will be made up by our dedicated teaching staff. They will be working lengthened school days and will still work exactly the same number of hours (if not more) than they would have before the lockdown. The SGB will also redraw the budget continually as circumstances change to either direct savings from one area to another where resources not budgeted for might be needed, or to bring relief to parents. Unfortunately, until the end of lockdown it is simply too soon to assess the impact on our finances, but please continue to pay your fees.
7. Keep active: Please try and keep as active as possible. You can use some of the links under Phys Ed on D6, but try to move a bit every day. It will help your daughter with the stress and anxiety. Take care of your precious daughters and families.
We cannot wait to see you all back at school! We miss you all.