Principal’s Update

COVID 19 

IMPORTANT: Return to face-to-face teaching – (Tuesday 12th May 2020)

Please find below details regarding a return to face-to-face teaching pending confirmation of finer details via CECV bulletin later today.

The Premier and Minister for Education Announcement this morning advised (all progressing well) a cross-sectoral agreement has been reached around:

• Monday 25th May Pupil free day
• Monday 25th May – return of staff (except a small group of potentially-vulnerable staff)
• Tuesday 26th May – Return of Foundation and Years 1 and 2, 11 and 12 (plus Year 10s in VET/VCE classes) and special schools
• Tuesday 9th June – Return of Years 3 – 10

School will look different:
• Protocols for staggered drop-offs, plays, lunch breaks, TBC
• Cleaning regimes will be strict; every day for rest of Term 2 and all of Term 3 TBC
• Adults will socially distance as much as possible
• Significant additional support for hygiene, hand sanitiser, PPE (where needed), additional cleaning cost allocations

St. Francis Xavier continues to remain open now for specific students (9- 10% on average).

Premier’s Statement on how we will continue Limiting spread of virus:
• The very small number of active cases in community indicate that we can move steadily and progressively to full operation of schools.
• Aggressive testing of teachers/LSOs – mobile testing stations and voluntary testing
• Staggered pick up and drop off times
• Minimising parents/others to schools .
• Assemblies, camps, excursions not on for now
• Children using drink bottles, not bubblers
• Staggered lunch breaks
• Social distancing of adults and older children
• A small number of vulnerable staff remain working from home

The long notice period is for parents/families and for us to prepare and ease the transition.

The Premier offered a very strong vote of thanks for parents, schools, principals, teachers, staffs.
The Minister thanked educators, principals, teachers, support staff for their incredible work, then parents and students.

Schools can expect further detail in the CECV bulletin later today.

As a school community, we will seek to identify any gaps in our understanding/provision over coming days, but we do have a little time to work on this together.

I will keep you informed and updated as more information becomes available. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Newsletter: Term 2 Week 5 – (Monday 11th May 2020)

St. Francis Xavier Primary School is aware of today’s announcements by the Premier Daniel Andrews, and the many media reports speculating about arrangements for returning to school. This is something that the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) is working on in liaison with the Victorian Department of Education. We want to be consistent and deliberate in our actions so that when we do return to school-based learning, this is done carefully, systematically, intelligently and in a way that takes account of what is best for students, staff and families – on every level.

The last few weeks of flexible and remote learning have been challenging for everyone in education.

It has been a difficult period for teachers, students and families as we have all adjusted to new ways of learning and teaching.

The transition has not been an easy one at times for families or teachers, but where we have been successful, it is because parents and carers are partners in achieving learning outcomes.

So, I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of St. Francis Xavier Primary School and in particular our teaching staff, to offer my thanks for the support you have provided during this transition.

I have been inspired by the commitment and energy shown by parents and teachers in educating our children, and this is reflected in the innovative and creative ways we have come together to ensure continuity of education.

Last week for example the following occurred in our Connected Learning Community!

Examples like this show how our school community is supporting each other through this period.

I believe that meeting this challenge together has strengthened the partnership between our school and our community, which will sustain us through the learning and teaching of the weeks to come.

That partnership is, and will continue to be, the foundation of a high-quality Catholic education at St. Francis Xavier

Our school and our staff are here for you and, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us as we are available to help during this challenging period.

REMINDER: Process for Parents to book for Onsite Child Supervision at St. Francis Xavier Primary School

ALL families (including those that have booked previously) need to follow the process for booking children for Onsite Supervision.

If your child is not booked into Onsite Supervision correctly they will not be able to attend and you will asked to collect them from school.

Bookings are currently open and continue to do so every Thursday at 9:00am for the following week.

1. Instructions for Booking:
• Bookings are made through Care Bookings (a similar program to School Interviews) . The school code is SS47S and will not change.
• Please click on the link and follow the online instructions: http://www.carebookings.com.au/code?bcode=SS47S
• Bookings can be made for one week at a time only
• Bookings open Thursdays 9:00am for the following week
• Bookings close 8:00pm the night before for the following day
IMPORTANT:
AS communicated previously due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all children who can learn at home must learn from home for the foreseeable future.

Our school will be available to families with special cases, for on-site learning, only in the following exceptional circumstances:
• Reason 1 – For children whose parents can’t work from home and who require supervision
• Reason 2 – For vulnerable students without access to a suitable learning environment at home.

2. Arriving and Departing School:
• Children to arrive no earlier than 8.30am
• Please proceed straight to the Library, parents are welcome to accompany their child but asked not to go via the office or other areas of the school
• Children’s bags are to be placed in the Library Foyer
• Pick up time 3.15pm from the Library, no later than 3.30pm
• School uniform is required to be worn each day
• Children will engage in the same online learning program as their classmates who will be at home

3. Student Health:
• To ensure the health and wellbeing of all students and staff during supervised study, each parent will be required to complete the Australian government-approved symptom checker for their child attending prior to attending each day at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/symptom-checker/tool/basic-details
• If there is a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in your family, please advise the School immediately via email principal@sfxballarat.catholic.edu.au
• We request that students who feel unwell remain at home.

In the meantime, we thank all in the St. Francis Xavier community for your ongoing understanding. Stay home and stay safe!

Learning from Home in the CLC Update – Tuesday 28th April 2020

In writing to you today, let me begin by saying that I hope you are all well and in this time of social isolation finding ways to enjoy family and your time together. We are living in a time that will mark and influence our lives indefinitely and undoubtedly the world and Australia will be different because of it. Hopefully economic, social and physical recovery will be quick and we will learn from the experience.

I wonder what memories our children will carry with them and what stories they will tell their children in the years to come? We are certainly living through an event that will define our lives.

I know there has been much speculation in the press about return dates to school and returning our curriculum to a physical one at school. Announcements have been made in Western Australia,

South Australia and New South Wales about a programmed return to school. No such announcements have been made in Victoria. Minister Merlino and Premier Andrews have both made it clear that at this stage we can expect remote learning to be the program for Term 2 and that continues at present to be our thinking and planning at St. Francis Xavier. At the same time when we do return, we do not know what the regulations will be imposed around social gatherings and I continue to look at School events to see how we might achieve them. Most will be postponed if possible and if not cancelled.

I understand Home Learning in the Connected Learning Community is going well and that both the teachers and children are doing a great job. Congratulations to parents, children and teachers. This really does demonstrate to me that we are a genuine learning community that aspires to improve opportunity and outcomes for our whole community.

Parent and Student Surveys:

Please find attached a summary of the survey responses and feedback from parents and children in the first two weeks of Home Learning. I wish to thank everyone who took the time to respond as your feedback is important to us and given us lots to think about. As you can see the feedback is overwhelmingly positive and supportive!

As we have stated from the beginning we will learn as well as we go, some things will work, others won’t, so we will learn and change and get better as we go. We will continue to provide opportunities for feedback as we welcome your insights and constructive feedback.

Whilst we cannot commit to make adjustments for everyone’s individual needs we will endeavour to when it becomes a concern for most. We appreciate the respectful way that people have provided the feedback as, gossip and taking to social media with concerns and complaints can be detrimental to building community. Our philosophy as a school is that we would rather know than not, as then we can act on the concern, so to continue to provide opportunities for discussion and feedback is very important to us.

As communicated last Wednesday and based on your feedback we have made the following changes to our Connected Learning Communities:

  • Overview CLC planning documents from Foundation to Year Six will be uploaded to Seesaw on Friday afternoons between the hours of 3:00pm and 5:00pm. This will provide families with time to read the documents and plan for home learning for the following week.
  • Daily activities relating to and referenced in the CLC overview planners will be uploaded to Seesaw at 8:00am from Monday through to Friday.
  • From Week 4, teachers will begin to upload videos that include the concept of ‘new learning’.
  • From Week 3, children will be provided with the opportunity to connect and check-in with their teacher and peers daily via the platform
  • The amount of, and frequency of notifications to be reduced.

Zoom Classroom Check-ins:

Today we have commenced our Zoom Classroom Check-ins and at the time of writing this message the Junior and Middle School have successfully completed their first web conferences!  We hope that these opportunities provide children opportunities to interact socially with their teachers and classmates.

Please also include your feedback on the Zoom Check-in in this week’s parent surveys.

Finally:

We continue to be immensely proud of the way in which our children have approached the possibility of home learning.  This will be different and there will be challenges along the way but they will be overcome as we all learn how to navigate this new learning environment.

The School and the St. Francis Xavier teachers and staff are all working to ensure the best possible outcome for our children. We will advise you as clarification is received. Please stay calm and do not worry. Please let me do the worrying for you as I am really good at it!

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries or concerns.

 

 

Update: Monday 13th April 2020

Frequently Asked Questions for Families regarding Term 2 and Home Learning

Please find below information aimed at providing our parents and children with as much information as possible in one easy-to-read format about Term 2 and Home Learning.

We have endeavoured to create answers to some of the questions being asked as there are some central themes.

We will update this section from time to time, rather than doing more posts so the information stays together rather than families going in and out of posts.

Frequently asked questions:

  1. What will home learning look like?

The first Connected Learning Community task sheet will be uploaded at 9:00am on Wednesday 15th April. This will be three days’ work and we will post each successive learning contract on Monday mornings via and/or Google classrooms.

For each family it will look differently.  What it will not look like is teachers giving a lesson at the front of the classroom and then uploading the lesson.   For some families both parents will be working from home and have little capacity to sit and work with their child all day long, others will have someone completely devoted to teaching their child and will try to run it like a school.  Our teachers may also be working at home and may also supervising their own children, the elderly or sick relatives, so they are trying to combine duties as well.  What we can only do is do the best in the circumstances we are working from.  Classes or year levels have either SeeSaw or Google classrooms with recommended work for the week. The work will be broken into subject areas and include well-being exercises or activities and physical exercises and other things. Some children will get all this done, others will struggle to complete it.  We will just do the best we can?

  1. Is there a set time for home learning?

In some sense yes, and in some sense no.  Teachers are working school hours, but for some families that will not suit.  Please see the attached document and use this as a guide.

Will students have to login at a certain time?

No. The work will be on SeeSaw and Google classrooms, how and when that is completed is managed by the family.  Students will not be logging into a lesson at certain times every day.

  1. How will the teachers communicate with families?

Some teachers and families are already using the forum which is part of SeeSaw and the Google classroom.  Children and parents have already started posting questions and teachers are answering the questions, so we think this will be the main communication tool.  Some teachers are starting to use videos to teach some concepts, but remember this is new to us as well, so some staff are better at using technology than others.  We will learn as well as we go, some things will work, others won’t, so we will learn and change and get better as we go.  Teachers are discussing now whether they have to be available at a set time for parent questions – this probably will not work as working parents cannot get on at certain times and if a teacher is in front of a classroom, they will not be available, so posting questions may be the best tool.

Teachers will endeavour to respond to emails, SeeSaw communication, phone calls etc. between the hours of 9:00am and -3:30pm.

Mr. Bissinella and Mrs. Bosworth will post a daily video message (Daily assembly) via SeeSaw to announce birthdays, special achievements and events.

Will teachers give individual feedback about children? 

I would suggest yes, but we have not quite worked out how we do that and it will differ depending on the age and needs of the student. Teachers do not give weekly feedback to families now, remote learning does not change that.  Officially we have to report formally twice a year that has not changed.  So teachers will find ways to give informal feedback as we go along.

  1. Will my child fall behind?

In the big scheme of things, one term is not going to make a huge difference and your child has not stopped learning, it is just being done in a different way.  In fact, this might be the best thing for a child’s learning as they become more independent.  When we do return to school teachers will be assessing, as they always do, to see where your child is at and what the next thing they need to learn is. There is a lot of research that says the resilient child goes further than the academic child, so in some senses making sure that your child has resilient practices might be more important than the academic practices.  So, time for reflection, looking at how they can contribute to society, meditation, exercise, good eating habits are really good things to learn at this time to.  Having good routines around going to bed and getting up would also being important, limit the technology time etc.

  1. I can’t get my child to do the work, they just want to play.

Classrooms are built around routines and rules and you will need to establish these in your home early. In fact, children love routines and like to do the same things at the same time. Most teachers spend the first week in school mainly focusing on this, some things are set, some are negotiated, but if you do not start with these, it can be very hard to establish these later. So whatever works for your family, needs to be worked out early. This may mean you have set times for work and breaks.  It may get messy some days, but at least have something as a starting point.  Eg. TV/technology goes off at 9:00am and not allowed on again until 3:30pm.  Phones on the fridge during the day. You may not be working for all that time, but it may help to define the day and the school work becomes a routine rather than having to ask them to do it constantly.  Teachers will always have a big discussion at the start of the year about always trying our best and aiming for the stars, this is so students become self-motivated, not just doing the work because we are nagging them.  So however you set up your home for this, just have some set routines and rules and talk to them about doing their best work.  It will look different in every family.

  1. How do I know they are doing their work on their device?

Check histories occasionally, have them in a public space, work alongside them, be somewhere you can see their screens.  It is very easy to be distracted by social media and gaming for all of us.  We do not want students just sitting on computers all day, so most of the work should be off computers anyway.

  1. What about the maths?

Yes, it is different from when you were a child. We were taught with a lot of rote teaching with not much understanding, just learn the formula and the rules and you would be right.  Thankfully we have moved away from a lot of that.  There is much more around the understanding behind it, which is much more important than just getting the answer. Do the best you can, if you really get stuck there is plenty of things on YouTube that explains it and ask the teacher, it is actually what we love to do!  More importantly involve your child in as much real maths as possible, cooking, helping with the online shopping (Am I the only one doing a lot of online shopping now?) get them to fill the hand sanitizer bottle and tell you how many millilitres it is? What is the cost of a single toilet roll in one of those pack, older students can work cost per sheet?  Make it fun and use the things around them.  Time your shopping. Get them to tell what day it is, the date, (someone has to know in the house because I have certainly lost track of it) how many days since they saw Grandma, make it fun and make it real!

  1. What is happening with the building project?

Well, everything is going to happen quicker, so this is a real bonus.  So hopefully when we come back it will underway or very close to it!

  1. What if my circumstances change, can my children come to school?

Yes, just let us know what is happening as we need to make sure we have the right ratio of teachers 1:10.  Most of the staff will not be at school and will be working from home.

REMINDER: If you are one of the very small number of parents that will require your child to attend school please complete the survey below by clicking on the link that follows by 9:00am Tuesday 14th April 2020.

Families are requested to complete this survey, if their child/children requires supervision no later than Tuesday 14th April with the following information. Please complete one survey for each child:

Survey Linkhttps://forms.gle/8uQvx5V1PK59oFZ59

  1. What about school reports?

Good question, not sure at this stage.  The teachers usually start to work on them soon, so they certainly have the capacity to write reports, it will means we will have to work out ways to get student work that we can mark and assess.  I would not be surprised if the curriculum authority makes some sort of announcement about this in the near future.

  1. What happens when we come back to school?

It will not be like that we are strangers, we will be communicating as we go along, just like we are all doing with our families through Zoom and other tools.  However, I think we need to do something to bring our community back together, whether it is a whole school picnic or something like that.   However it will may be cold and it could be too cold for me to be outside picnicking!

  1. Enrolments for 2021

Yes, this has been disrupted and the cut-off date has been extended.  We certainly will still take enrolments at this time, so tell your friends to make sure they get their enrolment papers in!

  1. School Fees

If you need assistance talk to us, some already have and we are happy to work something out.  Will there be less school fees, I am afraid not, we are still paying staff, and so our costs have not changed much.

  1. Students with special needs

Are your children with special needs allowed to attend school, yes, will they have support in the classroom, yes.  Remember they will be doing the same work as the students at home in a sense, but we will be providing the adjustments where required. For students who are at home our staff will be in contact regularly and provided the best support we can in the circumstances.  It may mean we send special work and/or ideas home, all depends on the needs of the child.

  1. Face masks – should we be wearing them at school? 

The medical advice is no. They have some value for people who have COVID 19 preventing them from spreading the disease but for others it has been found to help spread the disease.  COVID 19 can stay alive on surfaces for many hours. People who have face masks have been found to be touching their face more often. One of the main ways people catch COVID 19 is by touching their face after they have touched a surface with COVID 19 on it.  So at this stage, the medical advice is to not wear face masks. Social distancing, hand washing are our main forms of protection.

Finally.

Stuck for things to do? …. Reading, writing and maths ideas

There are many things to write about at home, from descriptions of people and surroundings and children can take photos for visual prompts. Is there anything lovely growing in the garden? Do you have interesting ornaments to describe?

If completely stuck, pobble365 https://www.pobble365.com/ has daily writing prompts, questions and sentence starters. Using a mind-mapping site such as Popplet is also https://popplet.com/ useful. Recording spoken ideas can motivate writers and free presentation sites like Prezi https://prezi.com/ allow typing in an interesting format.

Children can use technology to create a movie, a song, or a digital poster that shows their understanding of a topic. For a challenge, they could work on writing and illustrating picture books for others self-isolating, or use Google translate to make their story accessible for children in other countries.

Ideas for using technology creatively:

Share your finished products with principal@sfxballarat.catholic.edu.au

This is a great time to connect with our children, help them develop a love of reading, learn some card games, enter a couple of competitions, play board games and do some puzzles.  We will get through this, be better people and be a stronger community.