Principal’s Blog – 2 April 2020

Dear Parents, Students and Staff,

We have completed a week in the remote learning environment, and I am amazed at the progress that has taken place in this time. Each day brings further clarity to the processes needed to operate successfully with remote learning.

Remote Learning

The number one priority has been to ensure there is ongoing learning activities for the students through Canvas, our online learning management system. The experience from countries who have done this for longer periods of time suggest that students won’t get through the same volume of learning activities at home compared to being at school. We will be monitoring this process as we learn what works best for our students.

The Director of Catholic Education has mandated that all schools within the Canberra and Goulburn Archdiocese will use the Microsoft Teams software as the preferred communication and collaboration tool. Fortunately, we have been using Microsoft Teams already and it complements Canvas.

The staff have been discussing policies and protocols around the move to remote learning. Marking the roll, establishing student conferences, adjusting assessments, identifying appropriate learning activities, locating additional online resources, pastoral care communication and adjusting curriculum options are just a few of the many agenda items that needed to be discussed.

Adjusting to remote learning

The majority of students have been in contact with their teachers in one form or another. They are adjusting well although there are many who are missing being with their friends on a regular basis. We will become more proficient in setting up live communication opportunities and this will help sustain the contact necessary whilst in isolation.

Naturally, the community has a responsibility to contribute to minimising the spread of the COVD-19 virus, to minimise the number of people accessing hospitals and to protect the vulnerable who are most at risk. I hope you and your family are safe and healthy. The loss of income for many families is devastating and hopefully the Government can put in measures to put things on hold through “hibernation” so that people can return to their normal life when we get the all-clear.

Week 10

The Director is requiring all staff to undertake online professional learning in Microsoft Teams next Tuesday 7 April and Wednesday 8 April.  If a teacher has scheduled conferences on Tuesday or Wednesday, they have been asked to reschedule them to an alternative day.

As such, Tuesday and Wednesday next week will be “communication free”. In other words, you may not receive a reply from the teachers regarding your queries during Tuesday and Wednesday whilst the staff are involved in the professional learning.

Parents that have children in Catholic systemic primary schools may have already received a letter from the Principal or the Director regarding this professional learning opportunity.  Our circumstances at SFX are a little different to the Primary schools so this letter explains our operational requirements during the professional learning days.  Students whose parents are essential workers will be supervised at school if required.

Students need to be checking Canvas and emails daily as students need to become familiar with these platforms to succeed in Remote Learning.

During next week (Week 10) students will only be expected to complete assigned assessment tasks.  All due dates must be adhered to.  Classwork that is necessary to support these assessments tasks will also need to be completed. This may mean that some courses will not have any set learning activities or assessment tasks.  Students must check Canvas on Monday for the adjustment to each class for Week 10.

Finally, I would like to share a prayer with you all.

Prayer

God of the one and God of the whole,
be with those who are working from home today
and those whose work keeps them from home.
Be with those who won’t go beyond the front porch,
and those who stay on the front line.
Be with those who must choose between
doing a job they know they can do
and being the parent only they can be.
May we each in our private worry
hear your universal call
to come, lay down heavy burdens,
and find a welcome rest.
And then with our burdens lightened,
may we help to hold the whole.
Amen.

From the Corrymeela Community, Northern Ireland, retrieved from the Facebook page of the sisters in Jamberoo Abbey in the Southern Highlands.

Best wishes,
Paul Carroll

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