“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” – James 4:8
“Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Attributed to Winston Churchill during WWII
Most people have reacted sensibly to COVID-19, seeing it as something to be prepared for, rather than as a cause for deep anxiety. Nonetheless, a viral pandemic presents significant challenges, especially for those in government and managing health systems. As a school, our challenge is to respond in appropriate and measured ways.
As summer demonstrated, whether fire or flood, crises can bring out the best in us. I trust that might be true for us now and have been delighted to see plans and resources re COVID-19 shared from across the world, including by schools that have now been closed for weeks.
Whilst of course we can’t replicate the vibrant interactions of teaching and learning in a virtual setting, we have worked with staff to develop a strong contingency plan to work remotely, if or when required. It is important to note that while our physical campus may need to close, school will not. Learning will continue.
This plan is a precautionary measure that we will use if needed to care for the wellbeing of our community. We are confident that it will work well in the short-term because of the commitment of our staff and the understanding of our students and families. The objective is for the school to continue to provide an effective education for students within 24 hours of an emergency in both the short and long-term.
In the event of school closure, a Communicate email will be sent to NBCS Community members, signs will be posted at the entrance to the school and notices will be posted on the school website and through the school’s social media channels.
Ongoing learning in the event of a school closure
- Students will be expected to continue their schooling through remote learning.
- The regular timetable will apply – teachers for that class are ‘available’ at their usual times.
- Canvas will be the communication channel for Secondary students and work, lessons, resources and expectations will be communicated in Canvas.
- Email will be the communication channel for Primary students and parents, and lessons and resources will be disseminated via email.
- When using Canvas conferencing tools students should be appropriately attired (usual mufti rules apply – shoulders covered, appropriate necklines, no swimwear etc)
- For Secondary, Mentor Group will take place online each day – it’s a point of connection for many kids and a chance for them to check in and chat about how their ‘Closure’ experience is going.
Our goal is for students to read, communicate, and engage in authentic learning experiences, while of course continuing to be physically active.
Guidelines for Parents
The guidelines provided below are intended to help parents think about what they can do to help their children find success in a remote learning environment.
- Establish routines and expectations – keep routines regular, likewise for bedtime, involvement in the household, and set expectations early.
- Define the physical space for your child’s study – if possible, not their bedroom.
- Monitor communications from your child’s teachers – communication will happen within Canvas for Secondary students, via email for Primary. Bear in mind that your child’s teacher may have more than 100 students and families to communicate with.
- Begin and end each day with a check-in with your child – establishing simple routines, asking simple questions – what are you learning, what do you need, what are your goals for today, will help identify early how your child is managing the new learning environment.
- Take an active role in helping your child process and manage their own learning – students learn best when they have the chance to process their learning with others. In any given day, most students have hundreds of interactions regarding their learning.
- Establish times for quiet and reflection – processing time is valuable for us all, children included.
- Encourage physical activity and exercise – this is vital for ongoing health and wellbeing and will underpin learning – household jobs can be part of this.
- Encourage reading – in a time where travel is not possible, reading remains a discount ticket to everywhere.
- Bear in mind your child’s concerns or worries – support them, and let them know that we can and will all manage this as well as is possible.
- Monitor how much time is being spent online – we will try to get the balance between screen and non-screen activities right, but the last thing we want is the days spent on screen and the nights as well.
- Keep your child social, but have clear boundaries about social media interactions (including being kept separate from learning time) – polite, respectful and appropriate behaviour is valued in person and online.
- Internet access – If you do not have adequate internet or computer access at home, please let us know so we can consider other support mechanisms
Guidelines for Students
- Establish daily routines for engaging in the learning experiences, noting that learning will continue as per your timetable.
- Identify a comfortable, quiet space in your home where you can work effectively and successfully.
- Complete assignments with integrity and academic honesty, doing your best work.
- Communicate actively with your teachers if you cannot meet deadlines or require additional support.
- Collaborate and support your peers in their learning.
- Comply with our Acceptable Use of Technology Policy including expectations for online etiquette.
- Actively seek out and communicate with staff as needs arise.
Current onsite Practices
- We follow NSW Department of Health and NSW Government advice.
- Cleaning – we have implemented additional daily cleaning of high touch surfaces across the School, including door handles, light switches, balustrades and counters, along with surfaces in high traffic and usage areas.
- Specific Incident Response for COVID-19 disseminated to staff.
- Renewed focus on general hygiene routines including washing hands properly, no handshaking, no sharing of drink bottles or food, minimising touching one’s face.
- Encourage staff not to use air conditioning, but to keep doors and windows open in shared spaces, including learning spaces.
- Hand sanitiser is available to staff and students throughout the school.
- We have cancelled a trip to the United Nations in New York, which was due to depart this weekend, and cancelled the European History Tour which was to run in the upcoming holidays. Visits to Nursing Homes or Aged Care Facilities have been suspended for the foreseeable future.
- Confirmation with Café regarding increased hygiene including hand sanitiser at collection point to encourage students to sanitise before eating and non-use of re-usable cups.
- Forest Coach Lines are taking an active approach, with buses disinfected daily, with extra emphasis on touch points.
- We are communicating with external providers to ensure that their practices are health focused and adapted to take account of the current climate. If they are not, we are cancelling the activity.
- Staff, parents and families should reconsider travel plans, as self-isolation will apply to travellers returning after the school holidays in line with government recommendations.
Finally, please know that we are doing all that we can to help your children through the uncertainty of this time. Their safety and wellbeing, along with that of our staff and wider NBCS community, is our top priority.
Professor Rosemary Johnston
NBCS Board Chair
Mr Tim Watson