Information about the COVID-19 virus is now the lead item on nightly news broadcasts, and most of us are receiving hourly updates sent directly to our phones. I thought it was time that I wrote a little about how we are thinking the virus might impact on the educational programme at the School.
A little background first. I am sure you would all know that there have been schools closed by state health authorities. This has happened in cases where the virus has been evident at the school. The reason for closing the schools has been to give authorities the opportunity to assess the impact of the specific contact on the wider school community. Authorities have been aiming to limit and contain, geographically, the spread of the virus. Some of these closures have been very short term. It is clearly implied that longer closures might be considered by the authorities.
The School will naturally be subjected to the authorities who have responsibility for the health of our community (both within the School and beyond). Specific information about The Glennie School will be communicated to you via our various platforms, namely, eNews, email and SMS. While we have dated all communications sent to-date, I feel it is important that we work to ensure there is no confusion over which communication is the latest from the School. Therefore the next communication will be numbered e.g. 4/4 (to indicate it is the fourth notification of four that have been sent).
There are many predictions in the community about how the virus will spread and what the implications will be for the community. While these predictions may help alert people to ‘the possible future’, they are not predictions created with the benefit of a validated crystal ball.
Presently the School is planning (as you would expect us to do) for a range of future options. One includes the requirement to close the School for a period of time. In that circumstance, it is our intent to continue to offer a ‘virtual school’. We will deliver this program under the ‘iLoveGlennieSchooling’ tag. Our ability to deliver an educational program is extensive. It includes: videos of teachers presenting on existing or new work assignments, links to reading and learning material, the ability to provide advice to individual girls about how they are understanding work, and we can continue to review and grade assignments. We are confident that we can sustain a strong educational program in the face of significant requirements to change our traditional school day. We are thoughtfully working on options for the early years of schooling where the girls are less able to self-direct their day.
I would hope all are wondering what they can do to assist if the School is required to close for a period. First, we can all help contain the COVID-19 virus by playing our personal role in maintaining high standards of personal hygiene. The advice on hand washing with soap is an essential message for all. In addition, the avoidance of face touching has been emphasised by the health authorities. Maintaining a little personal space is also becoming a common suggestion by the health authorities. Some schools are discouraging handshaking and I am personally encouraging the ‘gentle fistbump’. It tends to bring a smile to others and is a gentle reminder of personal hygiene. Perhaps the most important matter that can be considered, at this stage, is to investigate the internet capacity in the home. The issue is the size of the data plan. There is no simple advice I can offer. The issue to consider is the ability of the home data plan to manage multiple simultaneous connections.
I asked the School Captains recently if there was any talk amongst the girls about a school closure. They were a little perplexed about what I was asking and I took that as a positive. My message to the community is simply that the School is presently considering and planning for a range of possible future options that may result from the COVID-19 virus being found in our community. I would hope this would give all parents and girls considerable confidence in your school. I hope you would expect us to be planning for the uncertainty that may be ahead. We are very confident that we can continue to deliver a high quality ‘virtual schooling experience’. In choosing the tag ‘iLoveGlennieSchooling’, we are being realistic and sincere about the quality of, and emotional connection to, our teaching programs that we believe we will be able to maintain in the event of a school closure.
That said, we hope our plans are relegated to the archives without use.
Mr Peter Crawley