STATEMENT FROM YOUR COLLEGE PRINCIPAL, PETE HANRATTY REGARDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
I believe it’s timely that I now write to you all in regards to the Coronavirus since I have heard a rumour that apparently we went into lockdown last Friday as a staff member has Coronavirus. I can tell you that it is simply untrue. Schools are expected to have lockdown and evacuation practice and on Friday you would have seen either myself, Mr Uwins and Ms Bamberg checking that external doors were locked.
We have had no Coronavirus cases within the student population or staff. Please do not believe what you are reading on Facebook or any other social media site as it is simply not true. Fountain Gate Secondary College has had NO CONFIRMED CASES of the COVID-19 to this date.
As you would be aware, the Coronavirus is impacting not only on Australia but a significant number of other countries around the world. It is in times like this that we have confidence in the government of the day who are being guided by experts in situations like this. At a school level I want to let you know what we are doing in response to the COVID – 19. I have been immensely proud of how you have all handled the last couple of weeks, and in particular the last week as the COVID-19 pandemic is developing. I understand that is it quite overwhelming and I encourage anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or anxious to contact Wellbeing, Sub-School or one of the Principal Team.
Over the weekend, national and state governments and authorities have met and have made a number of decisions which will impact on you as a student and as there is so much information currently available.
Camps and Excursions
What that means for us is our planned Germany Exchange has been cancelled and the Year 7 and Year 12 camps could be cancelled, but we are waiting on further advice. All excursions and sporting events have been cancelled until further advice from the government.
Regarding our Alliance travellers to Gleneagles and Hallam, the taxis will still be operating and classes running as usual. A lot of students are asking questions regarding International arrivals. The latest advice is from 15th of March everyone arriving into Australia are require to self-isolate for 14 days. Importantly it also includes parents and carers and any other relatives or friends of your students who are returning from overseas travel. As they are required to self-isolate, they must not visit the school to pick up children or for any other reason. Please remind your parents and community members of this.
In addition, in response to the New Zealand Government’s travel restrictions announced over the weekend, staff and students can no longer travel to New Zealand. This is effective from Sunday 15th March 2020. If anyone is at school with Corona Virus symptoms, which are fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, they will be escorted to the Doctor’s room which is the first green portable near the weights room and be collected from there. We have been trying to purchase sanitiser (along with every other person in Australia) and have had no luck, so good hygiene is very important during this time. I encourage you to bring your own sanitiser if it is available from home.
The Commonwealth Government has announced (since the 18.03.20) that mass gatherings of more than 100-150 people are now prohibited. This explicitly does not include schools running normal teaching and learning program. It does, however, apply to any school event that involves attendance by community members who are not students or staff (where staff includes support staff) and where total attendance will exceed 150.
So, going forward this means for us the following events have been cancelled:
- Grade 6 to Year 7 Information Evening.
- End of term cross country.
- Parent Teacher Interviews.
- ANZAC assembly.
- Year level assemblies.
In regards to school cleaning, as there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 among any of our staff or students, the government is communicating that our current school cleaning contracts and operations are appropriate and adequate.
This is the part that most of you will be interested in. There is no government school currently closed or in the process of being closed. You will be informed directly by me if there is any prospect that our school will be closed, either as a stand-alone school closure or as part of a local or area-based closure. You will then be provided with detailed advice, a step-by-step guide and communication resources to support you through that process.
I received this email from Dr Brett Sutton who is the Victorian Chief Health Officer and Human Biosecurity Officer. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) met recently to consider the issue of school closures in relation to the community transmission of COVID-19. The Committee’s advice is that pre-emptive school closures are not likely to be proportionate or effective as a public health intervention to prevent community transmission of COVID-19 at this time.
Previous work suggests that the potential reduction in community transmission from pre-emptive school closures may be offset by the care arrangements that are in place for children who are not at school. There is a particular risk associated with the fact that children may require care from vulnerable grandparents or may continue to associate (and transmit infection) outside of school settings. Broadly, the health advice on school closures from previous respiratory epidemics shows the health costs are often underestimated and the benefits are overestimated. This may be even more so in relation to COVID-19 as unlike influenza, the impact on otherwise healthy children has been minimal to date. For pre-emptive school closures to be effective, prolonged closure is required and it would be unclear when they could be re-opened. If there were still a large pool of susceptible students when schools are re-opened, there would be likely to be re-emergence of transmission in the community. School closures may still be considered late in the outbreak in anticipation of a peak in infection rates, for a shorter period of time. Short term reactive school closures may also be warranted to allow cleaning and contact tracing to occur. Should evidence change in relation to school closures then my advice to the sector, in collaboration with AHPPC, would of course change also.
Given the latest information regarding school closures I want you to know what has been happening here at FGSC if a school closure was to occur. Mr Threadgold has been a very busy beaver and has been working hard alongside Ms Bamberg to ensure that your lessons can be delivered online. Also if you are doing VCE that you won’t be disadvantaged in any way and VCAA are planning in this area. “CeeFa”, one of our students, has raised a point with VCE units that require practical classwork and what will happen? At this point I don’t have the answer and I will have to investigate this further.
We are currently determining which students don’t have the capability to learn from home, this may mean some of you don’t have internet access or a computer or other IT device at home. If this is the case, don’t stress, we are in the process of developing hardcopies of your classwork so you won’t be disadvantaged if you are in this situation. The lessons will follow our College Instructional Model. ‘I DO’ This could be PowerPoint recordings. Your teachers will simply use webcam/microphone to record the explanation of the PowerPoint just like they would do in class and they will then upload this to Compass Class Resources. Your teachers will also put a note in the Compass “Lesson Plan” to let you know that you should download the PowerPoint from Class Resources.
Teachers will also be utilising screencast which is a recording of what is on their computer screen, which can also include your teacher’s voice and a video recorded by their computer’s webcam. Screencasts are a good option if teachers want to record themselves explaining things to you, where teachers don’t have a PowerPoint presentation. Most of your teachers normally use a whiteboard as part of their explanations, they can use the ‘draw’ functions in either Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Whiteboard to create diagrams/notes which will be recorded by their screencast. Once they’ve created a screencast they will upload it to Compass Class Resources. We have asked teachers to make sure they put a note in the Lesson Plan to let you know that you should download the video from Class Resources.
Taking books home from 16.03.20
From Monday 16th of March, you have been asked to take all their books out of their locker and put in your bag and take to Period 5. The reason for this is that I want to make sure if it does come to the point where the school is closed that you have textbooks in your locker that you may require and won’t be able to get it. This means as of tomorrow you will need to bring the correct books for each day.
It is now really important that we all abide by the following:
- You need to wash your hands often with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. The easiest way to do 20 seconds is sing the chorus of your favourite song (please sing to yourself though ©)
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have one cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow
- No more shaking hands or fist pumps maybe do an elbow bump. Ultimately everyone needs to restrict physical contact with one another as much as possible.
- Stay at home if you feel sick
- Phone your doctor or the hotline 1800 675 398 if you need medical attention, they will tell you what to do
- Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep
- Wearing a face mask is not necessary if you are well
- Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60% alcohol if you are able.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me or any member of staff.