Sunday, 11 October 2020

COVID -19 (Part 5) Surfing the Second Wave during the Longest Lockdown in the World

Coronavirus Update

As the rest of Australia began to recover from the impact of the pandemic, community transmission in Victoria increased dramatically and on August 2 we moved to Stage 4 lockdown. On August 5 we reached our peak of over 700 new cases. Fortunately, after months of extreme lockdown which included an 8pm curfew, compulsory face mask wearing and an inability to travel further than 5 kilometers from home, on October 3 there were only 8 new cases.  Melbournians wait in anticipation for October 19 when the debilitating Stage 4 restrictions should be eased to enable people to return to work and inject much needed hope and life into the economy. Importantly, the delicate emotional wellbeing of those with elevated levels of stress and anxiety caused by physical distancing, isolation and job loss during lockdown will receive a much needed boost. Sadly, there have also been 805 deaths in Victoria, with many families losing loved ones, especially the elderly. We continue to keep all families in our thoughts and prayers.

Australians are recognised for their resilience and optimism and adhere with determination to the core value of supporting each other to get through the most challenging of times. Just as a surfer repeatedly gets back onto their board, we refuse to be wiped out by the second wave.


Flexible Learning and the Second Wave
In the previous two posts, I shared the proposed changes we made to remote learning based on feedback from all stakeholders and the Flexible Learning guidelines and expectations going forward. That was early in July, when we we were reeling from the shock of 288 coronavirus cases. Little did we know at the time that due to the dramatic increase of coronavirus cases, our renewed Flexible Learning practices would continue for the full 10 weeks of Term 3 and the first week of Term 4. We eagerly await the return to onsite learning for all primary school children on October 12.
I described my experiences with remote learning during the first lockdown as running on the Covid Treadmill. This is definitely not the case as we come to the end of the current lockdown. 
We finished Term 3 with passion, energy and profound belief in the quality of the Flexible Learning programme offered across the school. Our Term 3 second wave experience more closely aligns with surfing ; catching a pipeline, skilfully guiding the nose of the surfboard through the barrel of the gigantic wave whilst balancing with ease and confidence as the wave carries you safely to land on the shore.

Amidst the many challenges of the Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, we are extremely satisfied that the combined efforts of students, staff and parents enabled all learners to achieve to the best of their ability. Student interaction weekly reports from staff developed during the course of the term to include a record of parent communications and online social opportunities for different year levels. We received numerous emails of thanks from the parents and are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive feedback shared with us all. Feedback included:

" ...We appreciate the teachers have gone above and beyond to support us and the kids.." Prep and Yr 2 parent
"..A big thank you to the wonderful staff at St Patrick's...they keep the kids busy whilst providing regular positive feedback..." Y
ear 3 parent
" ....is so energised and happy to log on each morning..the home schooling has been a great experience because of how well prepared and energising you were each day." Yr 6 parent
"..Thank you for your commitment, support and care..I am certainly seeing growth, resilience and maturity...thank you for the key role you are playing..." Yr 6 parent
"..we are loving your work in the school assemblies absolutely fantastic to watch. Shows so much passion for what you do thank you.." Yr 1 parent
'' .. thank you for all your great work....is flourishing under your direction and support..." Yr 5 parents
".. we really appreciate the time you take to review each piece of work, the feedback and messages you write back... feel connected, stay accountable and be motivated..." Yr 4 parent
"..can I once again thank you and your team for the selfless and supportive way in which you have helped us. .. we appreciate everything you are doing to support our children..."

Our student SRC leaders represent their classes and they met with me via Zoom on a weekly basis during term 3. We created some wellbeing videos to share with the community. The focus on wellbeing with tips to encourage us to express our gratitude and remain positive were ideas that came directly from the students. The video below is a reflection of the highlights of Flexible Learning for the students from Year 1 - 6.
You can access further videos by the Semester 2 SRC leaders at these links -

   

Virtual Assemblies continued to evolve and feedback from families in relation to the "transformations" seemed to give everyone a much needed lift. At this point in time we have uploaded and shared 15 virtual assembly videos. Below is one of the videos that included a senior leadership sing along and bloopers too! 

Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, holding tight to our core values with faith filled hearts is enabling our community to thrive.

As we continue to ride the second wave with passion and purpose, the  emphasis on faith and wellbeing is regenerating the hearts and minds of the community.

Family engagement is strengthening, staff capacity is surging and student agency is flourishing; further deepening the culture of inquiry, "the archaeological dig" that was part of our school wide review in 2019. 

Underpinning all of this is the realisation that we are actioning our long term goals as articulated in the School Improvement Plan 2020-2023. We are living out our vision to ensure learners leave our school self - motivated to make a positive impact on their world.

Seven months of lockdown hasn't deterred us..... imagine what we will all achieve together post lockdown. 



Acknowledgements:
  • To our SRC students and young leaders for their contribution to the SRC and virtual assembly videos
  • To our hard working staff who responded to the challenge to "raise the bar" and make Flexible Learning truly count for every learner
  • To our students and parents who continue to work together, give and receive feedback and keep learning despite the unique challenges that we are all experiencing in these "unprecedented" times.