Covid-19 Pulteney Correspondence 13-18 March

Please find below recent correspondence regarding Covid-19 from Principal Cameron Bacholer. All attachments mentioned can be found in this issue of the Pulteney Review. As always, should you wish or need to contact the School regarding Covid-19, please do so through the following address: info@pulteney.sa.edu.au.

18 March

Tomorrow will mark the commencement of our Pulteney@Home trials in Years 6 - 9. In the ELC-Year 5, SeeSaw is already a well-known and used platform by parents and caregivers; our Kurrajong and Prep School staff will continue to conduct tests and develop contact.   Students of one ninety are already familiar with the use of Microsoft Teams and other digital platforms that will form the basis of Pulteney@Home for the senior school.  For Years 6 - 9, in the coming two days, each student will have the chance to learn through Pulteney@Home. This will be a chance for students to normalise the logistical steps for connecting to the learning and then the structure of lessons. Each lesson will be created to include three pedagogical components:

-          Explicit instruction – the teacher providing direct teaching of concepts and content

-          Contribution – students will be afforded the opportunity to contribute to a discussion or develop ideas with their teacher

-          Independent Practice – Students will have the chance to undertake activities or study of their own

These three components of each lesson are best practice teaching and learning, are familiar to our students and teachers, and already form the structure of most classes. They afford teachers the chance to vary their teaching, while also enabling a continuity of learning for students. Most students are already familiar with digital learning; for some, this digital delivery will be the only difference.

Also as of tomorrow, Ms Daisy Ashby, Learning Area Leader for Humanities, will commence piloting Pulteney@Home while working remotely. Classes will continue at scheduled times and be taught by Ms Ashby. A second teacher will be present in the classroom at the time to assist students as might be required.

I note as well revisions to the federal government’s social distancing measures this morning. The School can confirm that no students have or will be gathered in groups approaching 100 in size from today. Every effort continues to be made to normalise the highest standards of personal hygiene and advised social distancing. I also note the escalation of advice regarding overseas travel to Level 4: do not travel. The School endorses this measure and asks for families to avoid all travel at this time and during the school holidays.

A few updates, once again, can be found below.

Finance Team – working remotely

Tomorrow, the School’s finance team will work remotely to test their capacity for business continuity. Should you require to speak to a member of our finance team, please call Reception on 8216-5555.

Parent-Teacher Interviews

Parent-Teacher interviews will be conducted later this term and early in Term Two; this will be undertaken in a revised format and details forwarded in due course.

17 March

Throughout the Public Health Emergency Covid-19, Pulteney Grammar School has made decisions in accordance with student and staff health, safety and education. We will continue to do so.

Yesterday and today, I took the opportunity to address and hold question sessions with students in Years 3-12 in appropriately sized gatherings. I want to keep students informed of the School’s response, how their health and safety is our priority, what personal hygiene and social distancing measures are appropriate and to hear and answer their questions. I am, even at this most remarkable of times, overwhelmed by our students’ maturity, insight, poise and consideration. This is an exceptional school community we have at Pulteney.

Later this week, our teachers will trial virtual learning during classes with our IT staff to assist with troubleshooting for staff and students. These trials are to ensure that, should the school be required to close, we maintain learning continuity for students at home. You may have heard through friends of other schools declaring student-free days to undertake similar trials. We do not believe this is necessary at Pulteney. Our trialling is best conducted with staff and students on site to ensure functionality.

Government advice is for schools to stay open because it will help to ‘flatten the curve’. Pulteney supports this. As the outbreak evolves, the school will continue to make decisions in accordance with student and staff health, safety and education. Adopting this principle of child-centred decision making, it is possible that the School could decide to pre-emptively close if we believe that it is the best interests of health, safety and education. In considering this possibility the School will be guided by:

  • The risk that is presented by public gatherings on the advice of SA Health and other government agencies
  • The School’s ability to implement current recommendations for effective social distancing
  • The ability of the School to continue to provide the best version of its education for students at school and, in turn:
  • How this is affected by parents exercising their right and electing for their students remain in their care

In coming days, we will share more with you about how what we call ‘Pulteney@Home’ would operate if the school closes. This includes information about class structure, how the ‘school day’ might appear, wellbeing support and other pertinent resources.

I commend us all for how we continue to carry on during these most exceptional of circumstances. Neville Shute’s book, On the Beach, offers an insight into the different manner in which societies can respond to adversity. Shute, unlike many writers, chose to celebrate the ‘quiet dignity’ of humanity during difficult times. I feel this quiet dignity is not only his in fiction; but ours in real life.

Finally, I include a few updates, below, for your reference.

PGS Flow Chart - Updated

Please find an updated Pulteney Grammar School Flow Chart in this issue of Pulteney Review

SACE

Please find a letter in this issue for our school community regarding SACE and how the School will ensure the best of learning opportunities for all students.

The Navy Blue Formal

Following contact with the Adelaide Convention Centre this morning, I can confirm that the Navy Blue Formal will be postponed. A new booking has been confirmed for Friday 21 August. The School is committed to hosting the Navy Blue Formal in 2020.

Mary Poppins and Music ensembles

At this point in time, rehearsals for Mary Poppins and music ensemble rehearsals will continue with appropriate social distancing measures in place. A decision regarding performances of the musical will not be made at this time.

Vocational Education and Training

External VET providers have contacted the School to advise that as of Monday 23March, all VET classes will be conducted online. Information regarding this will be provided directly by providers and through Ms Bryan.

16 March

I take this opportunity to continue to thank all families for their open communication with the School during what was yesterday declared by the Premier of South Australia a Public Health Emergency. A reminder of the attached guide for school attendance and the request for all families to use the e-mail address: info@pulteney.sa.edu.au to communicate any further information. I reiterate, at this point in time, please exercise the highest caution should your child display any of the listed symptoms for their own health, first and foremost.

Today, a number of parents and care givers elected to exercise their right not to send their students to school; I respect these decisions as I have previously stated. Drawing from and consistent with all government advice, the school remains of the belief that it is safe to attend school. Home learning material will commence to be forwarded this week with virtual learning opportunities available in due course.

Later this week, students will undertake trials of virtual learning during school time and be provided with ‘how to’ guides to assist this transition to home learning should it be required.

The School has today made arrangements to implement a series of social distancing measures throughout the campus consistent with the advice provided by federal and state governments and in an endeavour to assist with ‘flattening the curve’. From today, students will be asked to:

  • Refrain from shaking hands and make use of the ‘elbow bump’ instead
  • Spend recess and lunch breaks outside except in inclement weather as a recommendation
  • In preparation for the possible continuation of learning from home, Middle and Senior students, gradually throughout the week, should take their books home and only bring those necessary for the coming day’s classes.
  • In preparation for the possible continuation of learning from home, Prep and Kurrajong students will be asked to undertake similar measures, as appropriate

In addition, the following measures have also been adopted:

  • Best practice personal hygiene posters displayed throughout the campus
  • Assemblies will not be conducted for the time being
  • Classrooms with operable sliding doors will be opened and break out areas used
  • Touchpoints through the school will be cleaned once again this coming weekend in addition to the usual evening cleaning which occurs. This level of cleaning requires two complete days free from site traffic

Attached, please find a list of all activities, sports and events until the end of this term and their current status. Some of these activities that have been cancelled have been done due to the logistics involved and the need for decisions to be made at this point in time, rather than closer to the event; other activities and events have been either postponed or cancelled in accordance with prudent social distancing measures and the government advice. Should an event or activity not be included for which you require confirmation of arrangements, please contact info@pulteney.sa.edu.au

Once again, I thank our school community for how we have responded to the emerging public health emergency; it is a reflection of our culture.

Please continue to support yourselves, each other and stay in contact.

13 March

Advice regarding the outbreak of Covid-19 continues to evolve. Recently, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic, recognising the global spread of the virus.

Today, the Prime Minister announced a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision to recommend the cancellation of all non-essential gatherings of greater than 500 people. This does not include the immediate closure of schools.

However, it is possible that the School, in the coming weeks, will need to close as a measure to assist SA Health in containing the spread of the virus. At all times, the School has and will continue to respond to advice from SA Health and in the best interests of our students’ and staff health and safety. Were the school need to close, learning continuity plans have been developed for each sub-school that will provide for education to continue via the School’s learning management system, Edumate, e-mail and associated digital tools. More information on this will be provided if and when required.

Please find together with this letter a flow chart summarising the recommended approach to all families in managing the spread of Covid-19; we ask for your assistance in endeavouring to aid the containment of the virus’ spread. In summary, we ask all families to err on the side of caution should they believe they might have either been exposed to the virus or a member of the household displays symptoms of a fever, sore throat, persistent cough or tiredness, or an unusual shortness of breath.

This afternoon, the Prime Minister also declared a Level 3 alert to reconsider all non-essential overseas travel. This holds particular relevance for families who may have been intending to travel during the Term One holidays. Complete information and advice for travel can be found at the Smarttraveller website and the Department of Health website.

During the weekend, as a pre-emptive measure, the School has organised for a complete clean of all touchpoints such as door handles throughout the campus; the availability of hand sanitiser will also be increased as of Monday. 

In the interests of assisting SA Health and the School to manage the spread of Covid-19, it is imperative that anyone suffering from the symptoms of the virus exercise caution and present to a doctor for diagnosis. I ask that you also inform the School as soon as practicable via the following e-mail address: info@pulteney.sa.edu.au

Much is said about the culture of Pulteney Grammar School and the strength of its community; these are the times when this matters most. Please look after yourselves and each other. E-mail is and will remain the primary means of communication regarding the School’s response to Covid-19.

Cameron Bacholer

Principal