Dear St John the Apostle Primary School Community,
Earlier this week I was in South Australia attending the funeral of my father in law. His passing was unexpected. I didn't return until yesterday. In the midst of my absence we have had a number of staff away sick, not with COVID-19, just following the advice of health professionals to stay home if unwell. I would like to express a very big thank you to Acting Assistant Principal Rebekah Brown and REC Stephanie Stewart who continued to lead the school during the ever changing climate this week. I am fortunate to have such an exceptional Executive Team (including Scott Suitor) to assist in guiding our community.
Thank you to all parents and carers who are responding so positively to the measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canberra and protect the vulnerable in our community from contracting the virus.
Thank you to parents who are keeping their children home when they are unwell or picking them up when they have become unwell at school and we have called. This makes a big difference.
Thank you to the students who have adpated to some of the strategies to increase social distancing such as suspending assemblies as well as morning and afternoon gatherings.
A few updates for parents and carers to be aware of:
- Today we introduced a social story to students to help develop an understanding around coronavirus and how they can help themselves and others stay healthy. Follow this link to view the social story.
- NAPLAN for 2020 has been cancelled across Australia. Students in Year 3 and 5 will not be sitting the assessment this year.
- The Archdiocese have suspended all first sacrament celebrations (penance, communion and confirmation) until further notice. Our excellent Parish Team are communicating directly with those families involved so please ensure they have your contact details to remain informed (Contact the Parish on 02 6254 3236, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- School photos due to be taken next week have been postponed until August due to the large number of student and staff absences.
- The Cross Country Carnival in Week 10 has been postponed until we can gather again in larger groups.
- The Belconnen Region Swimming Carnival has been cancelled.
- Our Harmony Day performances have been cancelled and activities will occur in class groups.
- Our onsite music tutors are currently developing options for online music tuition for their current clients should the school be closed for a period. They will be in contact with their students' families regarding details when they have them available.
Planning for potential school closure
We are in the process of developing a detailed plan for delivering teaching & learning opportunities if the school is required to close for short, medium and long term periods. To inform our plan we need to know what capacity each family has for online learning strategies. While we plan to use a combination of online and hard copy learning materials it is important for us to know the capacity of families at this time. Below is a link to a very brief survey that will provide us with this information. A hard copy will also be sent home today. Use either the hard copy OR the link below, not both. Please complete by Tuesday, March 24.
Please encourage other community members to ensure they have Schoolzine on their phone to keep up to date with all school communication over the coming weeks.
This Saturday is Harmony Day!
Have a safe, quiet and healthy weekend everyone. Though we are 'physically distancing' from others at the moment, go out and enjoy the weather before it really turns cold and keeps us inside!
Matthew Garton (Principal)
2020 has certainly proved to be a challenge! As we continue to feel a sense of unease it is important to try to focus on the small joys. Yesterday, when I was outside on the playground, I was able to take some photos of a few things that made me pause. Of course I loved watching the kids run, squeal and play too. Keeping their “normal” as normal as possible for as long as possible is so important. I know at others times they are not so carefree.
So enjoy the snaps from our green and lush playground and imagine the lovely noises of kids playing when you look at them.
I have attached a prayer from the Archbishop that will help us to focus ourselves on the needs of others as well as ourselves.
God bless you,
Stephanie Stewart (Religious Education Coordinator)
Congratulations to the following students who received an award for the fortnightly Positive Behaviour Focus. As there are no assemblies at present the students will be announced across the public dddress system on Monday and their awards will be delivered to their classrooms.
|KB||Ashley C||Viliami M|
|KM||To be advised|
|1B||Alyssa S||Vincent N|
|1M||Kiri F||James K|
|2B||Sophia N||Naveliangel S|
|2M||To be advised|
|3B||Layla P||Emry W|
|3M||Vincent B||Ameila F|
|4B||Bailey C||Phoebe S|
|4M||To be advised|
|5B||Robert W||Rebecca C|
|5M||Finn P||Nelson K|
|6B||Amon D||Emily R|
|6M||Emily S||Sabeen A|
|Performing Arts||Roy A (2B)||Rebecca C (5B)|
Leading the way for children during the coronavirus pandemic
If you’re like me, the news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has your head spinning and your heart pumping. That’s only natural as life as we know has taken a seismic shift in recent days.
International travel bans, cancellation of sporting and cultural events, shopping frenzies and talk of school closures continue to dominate the airwaves. Terms such as social distancing, self-isolation and social lockdowns have entered our vocabularies and may soon become part of our daily lives.
Coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on our daily lives, and will probably do so for some time. While keeping ourselves and children healthy and safe is our main concern, it’s also essential to address the anxieties of children and young people during these changing times. Here are some ideas to help inform, reassure and keep children and young people safe.
Build on what your children know
Children and young people have already been exposed to a great deal of information about corona virus through media, digital means and direct social contact. Their understanding will vary depending on their age and also the quality of their information sources so you probably will need to help kids process what they already know.
Casual conversations with teenagers and older children can be useful ways to glean their understanding. You could ask questions like “What are you hearing about Coronavirus? Is there anything you’re not sure about?” Younger primary age children may need a more direct approach with parents addressing their specific concerns without giving too much information that can overwhelm them.
Check your own thoughts and feelings
Check your own frame of mind and emotions about COVID-19 before talking to kids. Most children are astute mood detectives and they’ll gauge their safety by the way you communicate with them. If you tell a child, “You’ve got to wash your hands or you’ll get infected,” you are communicating your own anxieties, making it difficult for them to maintain a healthy state of mind. Have a think about how you can frame your instructions and their importance in a way that doesn’t heighten your child’s anxieties.
It’s difficult to work out fact from fiction, correct from incorrect, information from exaggeration when the news is changing so fast. However you need to educate yourself about the virus itself, including how it’s transmitted and how to stay safe. Get information from trustworthy sources such as The Australian Government Health Department website and the current federal government corona virus information media campaign.
Answer questions truthfully
It’s important that parents and teachers answer children’s questions honestly in age-appropriate ways and within context of what is happening at the given time. If their sport or hobby has been temporarily cancelled empathise with their concerns, while helping them maintain a sense of perspective.
Initiate positive action
One way to reduce anxiety and allay children’s fears is to involve them in planning and preparation for their personal and group safety. Positive activities such as maintenance of personal hygiene, greeting people with an elbow tap and getting plenty of sleep can help restore a sense of control, that is so important for their wellbeing.
Find refuge in rituals
Regular rituals such as mealtimes, bedtime stories and regular one-on-one time provide both an anchor to normality and a sense of connection for kids at times of change. Consider reconstituting favoured family rituals at this time if they have lapsed due to lack of time, or lifestyle frenzy.
In difficult times there is a tendency to look inwards, which is a natural protective strategy. The alternative is to establish a sense of connection and community spirit by focusing on generosity and togetherness. Help children see past their own needs and look for ways to assist others whether it’s shopping for an elderly neighbour, helping a younger sibling occupy themselves, or planning an indoor movie night for the whole family.
The Coronavirus presents many practical challenges to parents and other important adults in the lives of kids. Staying calm, keeping informed, and adjusting our own habits are just some of the challenges we face. However a significant challenge is one of personal leadership. That is, during these difficult times we need to be civil to each other, look out for each other and be mindful of the common good in everything we do. In this, we can all take a significant lead.
by Michael Grose