Principal's Update - 31st January 2022
Welcome back to the 2022 school year. We hope that each of you have had a safe and restful break and we look forward to working with you to bring faith filled learning to this wonderful cohort of children in 2022. To those who are new to our community, we wish you a very warm welcome and look forward to meeting with you over the course of the year. As we prepare for the start of the school year in the coming days there are a number of ways that schools and families can work together to support the school to be COVID safe.
We have received reports that there have been multiple staff and families within the school community compromised by the COVID illness and isolation requirements over the holiday period. We send out our best wishes to those who are unwell and wish them a speedy recovery. It appears, the community protections of immunisation, social distancing and robust hygiene practices are working to ensure safe outcomes for the majority.
As you would be aware, the Victorian Government recently outlined its Back-To-School plan. The measures set out in the plan are designed to ensure every possible effort is made to ensure staff and students are safe and that schools remain open.There is extensive information within this correspondence, based on the Operational Guide of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria in collaboration with the Department of Education. We want to provide families with the best information regarding key aspects of the Back-To-School plan to support your student/s return safely to school.
Rapid Antigen Testing
Free rapid antigen tests will be made available for all students at St Columba’s School for the first four weeks of Term 1 2022. Rapid antigen testing, while strongly recommended, will be voluntary for all students. Students will be requested to be tested twice weekly.
The rapid antigen test kits will be distributed directly to families, with collection via a ‘Drive through’ setup from the Armstrong Street Gate side, this coming Tuesday 1st February from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Tests will be provided in packs of five individual tests to be used on school age children. Parents/carers should collect one pack for each school age child in the coming days and another pack in a fortnight's time.
We are hoping to receive another shipment of tests in the coming days and get them out to all families before the first day of school. Information regarding a second allocation for students will be provided in the coming weeks.
Students will be encouraged to do the rapid antigen tests at home. If a student receives a positive test result at any time, they must report this through the Department of Health system or via the coronavirus hotline at 1800 675 398. Parents must also report their child’s positive result to school by phone or written notification; this is so we can support you, record that they will be absent while in 7-day isolation, and let the rest of the school community know there has been a positive case onsite and that they should monitor their child/children for symptoms. A suggestion of testing days could be Tuesdays and Thursdays.
All students who return a positive result from a rapid antigen test should also follow the latest advice at https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/rapid-antigen-tests.
As part of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, all students aged five and over are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Students in Year 3 and above must wear a face mask while indoors at school, unless a lawful exception applies. Students must wear face masks even if vaccinated. Students are not required to wear masks outside. Students in Foundation to Year 2 are strongly recommended to wear a face mask while indoors at school. Students are able to bring masks from home to wear. The school will also have a supply of masks available for students to use. Surgical masks are the preferred choice for masks for students and staff.
The Victorian Government has provided air purifying units (model Samsung AX7500) that will be used in all classrooms at school. These will be part of the plan to improve the air quality and circulation within the school environment.
There are currently many government COVID Safe Guidelines that the school is required to follow in relation to activities and events involving students and families. At this stage we will continue with drop off and pick arrangements at the 3 entry exit points, as per last year's arrangements. Parents will be asked to wear a mask during pick up and drop off times. If you are coming to school for a prearranged meeting or enquiry please enter through the school office and QR code upon arrival.
Howard Street - Year 3 / 4 Students and siblings
Gregory Street - Years 1 /2 & Years 5 / 6 and siblings
Armstrong Street - Foundation and Siblings
Stay home when unwell and get tested
The most important actions that the whole school community can take to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 is to ensure that if you, or your child/ren, become unwell (even with the mildest symptoms), remain at home and get tested. Everyone should consider their health before they start work or attend school, and ensure that they are free from coronavirus symptoms and have not had contact with a confirmed COVID case.
We take this opportunity to thank parents and children for their patience and understanding as we start the 2022 school year. As a school community, we invite you to continue to pray for each other during these challenging times.
Our school community is deeply committed to providing learning continuity, and ensuring that each child and young person has the best possible learning experience in 2022. We have a range of contingencies in place if members of our staff team contact COVID or are required to isolate as household contacts. We do anticipate that maintaining a full roster of staff may be a challenging issue over the coming weeks and we want families to be aware that we may need to ask particular year levels to stay home on a rotational basis so that we can provide an adequate duty of care and quality learning onsite. This may occur on relatively short notice. Any decision to cancel school or move to home-based learning will be after we have exhausted our other staffing options including, but not limited to,
- Drawing on our regular pool of committed and professional pool of casual relief teachers
- Utilising non-classroom teachers and school leaders redeployed into the classroom on some occasions
- Reducing school activities that draw teachers away from the classroom, such as professional learning programs and co-curricular activities
- Work with neighbouring schools to address staffing concerns
- Working with part time staff to extend their available hours where possible.
Any decision to cancel school or move students to home based learning for particular grades and or year levels will be as a last resort. This would be rotated to avoid the same groups having their learning impacted.
We look forward to welcoming all the children back to school on Wednesday 2nd February.
Foundation Rest Days - Term 1, 2022
Foundation Rest Days occur only in Term 1.
|Wednesday 2nd February||ALL Students including Foundation Students|
|Wednesday 9th February||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 16th February||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 23rd February||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 2nd March||NO Foundation Rest Day - due to Monday 28th February being a Whole School Closure Day|
|Wednesday 9th March||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 16th March||NO Foundation Rest Day - due to Monday 14th March being a Public Holiday.|
|Wednesday 23rd March||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 30th March||Foundation Rest Day|
|Wednesday 6th April||Foundation Rest Day|
2022 Calendar Dates
|Friday 28th January||Staff Return|
|Monday 31st January||Student Free Day - CORWIN PD - Visible Learning|
|Tuesday 1st February||Student Free Day - Staff PD - Data Analysis|
|Wednesday 2nd February||All Students Return|
|Monday 7th February||E-Safe Webinar (5/6)|
|Monday 28th February||Student Free Day - Review Preparation|
|Thursday 7th April||School Athletics Day|
|Friday 8th April||Last Day Term 1|
|TBC||Review 2 day meeting (SAC)|
|Tuesday 26th April||First Day Term 2|
|Friday 24th June||Last Day Term 2|
|Monday 11th July||First Day Term 3|
|Friday 16th September||Last Day Term 3|
|Monday 3rd October||Student Free Day - CORWIN PD - Visible Learning|
|Friday 16th December||Students Finish|
|Tuesday 20th December||Staff Finish|
Bambi Afford & Shaun Mohr