Dear St John the Apostle Primary School Community,
With the many announcements yesterday around COVID-19, particularly with the first case being diagnosed in the ACT, it is timely to let you know what is happening in our school to maintain a healthy environment and prevent the spread of any cold and flu between students and/or staff.
Catholic Education System Response
Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn have been providing guidance and support to all of our schools throughout this time. They have been providing Principals and schools with specific, practical guidance based on the information received from relevant Health and Education Authorities. They have also set up a COVID-19 Emergency Response Team who meet daily to examine and respond to any issues that arise in schools and new information that is provided by authorities.
School Operational Plan
Catholic Education has provided schools with an Operational Plan to adapt to our school context. It provides us with guidelines for preventing and responding to a variety of situations that may occur at the school as well as ensuring a consistent approach across all of our schools.
Some current questions
- Will the school be closed at all? Current advice is that mass school closures are unlikely. The Director is the only person who has the authority to close a school. The school will only close for the minimum necessary time after consultation with the Director and ACT Health.
- Will events/excursions/gatherings be cancelled? Our School will take a risk-based approach to any excursion, school event, public meeting etc. over the next few months. This may require postponing or cancelling events and we will provide plenty of notice when possible. We will be changing some of our practices in liturgies and masses to reduce risk, e.g. at the sign of peace, in the distribution of communion, etc.
- What hygiene practices will be followed? Good hygiene practices remain the best protective measure against the spread of the virus. Students are encouraged to wash hands frequently with soap and water (minimum 20 seconds). When available, hand sanitiser is being placed strategically for use by students, staff and visitors at appropriate times. (This is in no way replaces good hand washing practices). Our cleaners are maintaining supplies that support these practices and are undertaking some extra cleaning in high traffic areas. Posters around the school provide continuous reminders and guidance on good hygiene practices.
- What will happen if my child is unwell? If your child displays symptoms of cold or fever such as temperature, runny nose and coughing they will be considered unwell, they will be sent to the Front Office and you will be contacted to pick them up. We expect that they will remain away from school until they are considered well again. With these particular symptoms they will be isolated from other students in a supervised space until they are picked up.
- What will happen if a student/staff or community member is diagnosed with COVID-19? Our first action will be to contact Catholic Education who will work together with ACT Health to understand the situation, identify the risks, form and undertake an action plan and most importantly communicate in a timely manner with parents. Catholic Education and ACT Health will coordinate this communication. We will maintain the privacy of students and families at all times.
What can you do to help?
- Teach and/or encourage hand hygiene practices at home. There are some great Youtube videos. Some that might be useful include:
- Older students (ABC BTN episode):
- Middle and Younger students (BrainPOP):
- Handwashing songs for younger students:
- Keep your contact details (especially email) up to date with the Front Office. Health authorities and Catholic Education will rely on this to alert you to any broad actions our school is required to take.
- Keep your child home from school if they are unwell. If your child becomes unwell and you are called, come to collect your child as soon as possible.
As the number of incidents is changing each day, it is anticipated the advice of relevant agencies will change also. I will update you if, and when I receive information from Catholic Education.
In the words of a friend:
"The changes we'll be asked to make to our lives in the coming weeks may feel like an over-reaction if you're young and healthy...
Now is a good time to practice solidarity with the vulnerable members of our community."
COVID-19 most seriously affects those most vulnerable in our community. I call on you to do your best to follow all of the advice given by health authorities, not only for your own benefit but also for the benefit of those most vulnerable in our community.
Matthew Garton (Principal)
I have been inspired this week by our Year One Teachers. They have been busy preparing their assembly for next week. Wanting to ensure that everything was ‘just right’ they came and shared what they had prepared with me. As we were discussing the assembly they commented that the planning process had helped them feel more connected to the scripture they would use.
I am so eager to see the assembly on Monday. Firstly because Year One are always so excited and do everything with great gusto. Secondly, because I know that the teachers having a connection to the scripture will be reflected in the children’s faces and singing.
Connecting students, staff and families more closely to scripture is one of my goals because this is where we hear the word of God in our lives and receive the joy in the message.
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
Matthew 13:20 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
Stephanie Stewart (Religious Education Coordinator)
Notices from the Parish
The Bishops of Australia would like to invite you to attend a national day of gathering for all Catholic men.
Australian Catholic Men's Gathering 2020
Brothers, what must we do?
When: Saturday 25 July 2020
Time: 9am - 7pm
Where: ACU Strathfield, NSW
Cost: $80 (excl GST)
The Australian Catholic Men’s Gathering is an initiative of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and its aim is to inspire and encourage men with a vision for personal discipleship, service and mission in the family, parish and the world. The 2020 gathering will be held at the Australian Catholic University, Mount Saint Mary, Strathfield Campus on Saturday 25th July.
The gathering will begin at 9.00am with prayer, followed by workshop sessions and time for fellowship. Archbishop Porteous will lead adoration at 8.00am for those able to attend. Many of our bishops will be present and a number of faithful Catholic men will be leading the workshop sessions, including Daniel Ang, Peter Pellicaan, Peter Shakhovskoy, Jude Hennessy, Steve Lawrence and Robert Falzon. The conclusion of the day will be celebrated with a Vigil Mass in the ACU Chapel at 6.00pm.
On behalf of the Working Committee I would like to invite you to attend this gathering and I ask that you promote it with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to also come along. The bishops hope that after attending this gathering you will leave inspired to respond to the challenges facing our families, parishes and communities today.
We hope to see you in July!
Going beyond the fishbowl
It’s a quirk of nature that the extent of our growth is determined by our immediate environment. For instance, a fearsome shark will only grow five centimetres long if it spends all its life in a fish bowl. Put that shark in the sea and will grow to five metres or more. A shark’s genes may provide the blueprint, but its growth will be restricted by the size of its immediate environment.
The same principle applies to children. Restrict them to a safe, insular environment and their capacity for reaching their full potential will be limited. Getting kids to go beyond the fishbowl and be part of the wider world is how we prepare them for the career-fluid future that awaits them.
Recently, I wrote a forward for a soon to be released parenting book written by South African authors Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington titled “Future proof your child for the 2020s and beyond”. The authors described the future that our children are entering as full of exponential and disruptive change led by technology and shifting social mores.They reasoned that in the world of work and enterprise that awaits today’s generation of children and young people, creativity, problem-solving, design, big picture thinking and risk-taking will be richly rewarded. According to Bush and Codrington, the future will belong to the kids who are going beyond the fishbowl, willing to expand their physical and mental horizons.
American parenting icon Lenore Skenazy, founder of the free-range parenting movement is a long-time advocate for parents giving kids the freedom they need to explore their neighbourhoods and take safe risks.
Dubbed ”America’s Worst Mom” for allowing her nine-year old son to ride the New York subway on his own in 2008, Skenazy has been an outspoken advocate for allowing kids more freedom and unsupervised time. She maintains that kids are “safer and smarter than our culture believes.” Like Bush and Codrington, Skenazy encourages parents to allow kids to jump out the fishbowl of school, family and their immediate neighbourhood and encourage them to explore their capabilities in the wider world. She acknowledges that allowing kids the same type of freedoms that previous generations enjoyed takes significant parental courage.
If kids are to be truly resilient and make the most of the exciting but uncertain future that awaits them, it’s more important than ever to loosen the reins so that both generations – children and parents- experience more freedom.