Students return full-time - Monday 25 May
As most of you would now be aware, the NSW Premier announced on Monday that all NSW Government Schools have been informed that they are to make the necessary arrangements for the return of all students to an onsite lesson delivery mode as of Monday of next week (i.e. 25 May). Although some may have been surprised that all students would be returning this early, the NSW Premier and educational authorities have continually emphasised that the situation regarding a precise date for such a return was considered to be ‘fluid’.
On Wednesday of last week (13 May), I circulated a letter to all NCS parents and carers, outlining our plans at that stage for Week 5 (Phase 2), commencing 25 May. This correspondence indicated our expectation that K-2 and Years 11 & 12 would continue their full-time on-site lesson delivery programs. All other students (Years 3-10) would increase their school attendance to two days per week. However, this letter did include the following statement: ‘We are being continually reminded that the situation that we are facing is a very fluid one where all areas are being carefully monitored. The arrangements outlined in this letter are clearly subject to review, should circumstances warrant any further adjustment.’
Yesterday, School Leadership carefully considered the implications associated with the announcement made by the NSW Premier. As part of our considerations, we also carried out research regarding the intentions of local schools and other Christian schools in our region in relation to their plans for student attendance next week. What we have discovered is that the vast majority of these schools are putting plans in place for the full return of all students as of next Monday and they are informing their school communities accordingly.
Not unexpectedly, we have had a number of enquiries from NCS parents via phone calls to the Office and on our Facebook page, seeking clarification in relation to our plans for next week. After careful consideration, we have made the decision that Nowra Christian School will prepare for the safe return of all students to our school as of next Monday, 25 May.
As of this date, all teaching staff have been informed that they will continue to be required to provide only one form of lesson delivery. Consequently, as of next Monday, there will be no expectation placed on staff to provide online lessons as all teaching will now be onsite and teacher directed.
Without doubt, we have been traversing some very challenging times in the world of education as our schooling system has been required to rapidly adjust to a changed form of lesson delivery. Once again, our entire school community – students, parents, carers and staff - are being presented with one further change as we plan for the return of all of our students back to school at the start of next week. On behalf of the School Board and School Leadership, I would again thank each one of you for the support and flexibility that you have demonstrated as we have worked together as a team in order to adjust to these changing circumstances.
I mentioned above, that we are currently carefully preparing for the ‘safe’ return of all of our students back to school at the commencement of next week. It is important to note that the consistent advice from all government departments is that schools continue to be regarded as being safe places and this is particularly so for your children. As has been the case throughout this time of COVID-19 challenges, our staff will remain particularly vigilant in relation to student hygiene practices, including the maintenance of appropriate hygiene protocols within our classrooms.
In my two earlier letters to our school community, as I outlined plans for Weeks 1-4 of this term, I included some important safety advice for parents and carers. I stated that NCS is a ‘relational’ community but I did emphasise the importance, during this time of health concerns relating to COVID-19, that we all avoid engaging in extended conversations whilst on school grounds. I would again emphasise this important point and seek your ongoing support regarding this request. It would also be greatly appreciated if parents and carers refrain from spending time with your children on the play equipment at the conclusion of the school day.
As a helpful reminder for all of us, I will again include the key safety dot-points that have been designed to minimise the numbers of adults on our school site at any one time:
Unless expressly invited by a staff member, parents and carers are asked to refrain from entering the school grounds (apart from the office, car park and student drop-off and pick-up areas);
When driving your child to or from school, please aim to both deliver and collect them safely using the ‘Kiss and Drop’ area;
Avoid engaging in conversations with other parents and carers in the car park or other areas;
If you need to physically accompany your child from the car park, please obey all signage that indicates where you are able to go;
If you have any questions, or have items that you need to pick up or deliver, please go to the office but maintain appropriate physical distancing arrangements as indicated by the signage provided;
Unfortunately, there will be no capacity to utilise the services of parent/carer classroom helpers throughout Term 2.
During recent weeks, where we have seen many of our students and staff working off-site as we have engaged in an online lesson delivery program, I have often reflected that it has been important for us to maintain a sense of belonging to ‘community’. Of course, in our situation, I am referring to the Nowra Christian School community. I am delighted to say that we have been able to achieve this in many ways, especially with the assistance of technology.
As a staff member, I have especially appreciated the opportunity to utilise such technology as our team have continued to meet virtually for devotions at the beginning of each day. This morning, the theme again related in a number of ways to the topic of ‘community’. Our key verse was John 1: 14(b) which states, ‘The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’ Of course, this passage is referring to the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, into our world. Some Bible translations refer to the image of setting up a tent in the midst of the people. However, it was a very clear reminder that, as a Christian School community, whether we have been together physically or engaged in online learning in multiple locations, the presence of God has remained with us. His strength, support, wisdom and love are readily available to all those who seek Him. This is the wonderful reassurance that I would wish to leave with each one of us as I conclude this letter.
Kind Regards, Mr Rob Bray Principal