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We are doing our very best to manage the school’s response conscientiously and carefully. Our school critical incident team is meeting every day and considering any updates from NSW Health and the Association of Independent Schools. Updates will be emailed to parents and posted to this page for ease of access. 

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Update on 1 April 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

This email serves as an update for you on where we stand at the moment with delivery of school and where we anticipate we will be.  For ease of reflection, I have set this out as numbered points:

  1. Our remote learning protocols seem to be functioning quite well (according to feedback from parents and staff) and given the newness to everybody of this mode. The large file I have of parents expressing gratitude for these arrangements has been received with pleasure and gratitude.
  2. It is acknowledged that this is difficult for everybody. For students and staff, screen learning is intense. For parents who are endeavouring to manage the home front, deal with multiple children sometimes enrolled across several schools, and run their own businesses from home, this is very demanding.  Kindergarten students have the struggle of not yet being able to read instructions, and needing lots of focus from parents. At the other end of the continuum, Year 12 are grieving the substantial loss of the experience of their final year, which is a rite of passage, and wondering what will happen in terms of HSC or IB Diploma examinations. We all persist because in this situation we have no other choices. We, parents and staff, cannot afford to forsake a year of education for our students.
  3. As a staff we are committed to making remote school work well as we anticipate, according to government modelling, that we might be in this situation for many months. Accordingly, as well as delivering curriculum and assessment by remote mode, we are delivering pastoral care as best we can from a distance, continuing with Christian education via daily devotions and chapel, offering co-curricular education through the provision of what we can online, and offering sport in the form of an online fitness regime in readiness for a full resumption of sport when we are all physically back on site.
  4. I encourage you to have your children log on to daily high school devotions and chapel, and Junior School / Gawura chapel. These are times of encouragement and ongoing connection, which we anticipate will create hope and a sense of belonging.
  5. A whole range of new protocols regarding student issues has developed in these peculiar times. Fractional truancy now seems to mean not being on one’s device at the appointed time! Parents please support our insistence that students present in school uniform. As has been pointed out previously, this relates to a child safe online environment, promotes connection, and helps get students into the right mode of school.
  6. Teachers are working incredibly hard. Preparation for online delivery seems to take approximately double the time as preparation for in-class lessons. In addition to that, the stream of constant clarification emails from students and parents is very demanding. Please be patient with staff as they attempt to navigate all of this.
  7. We have found that students in general cannot manage the full workload we would like to set. We have therefore reduced that for Junior School, Gawura and Middle School students, and for Years 11 and 12 made a slight reduction to 90 per cent of what we had originally anticipated. Year 10 parents have received a separate email on this matter.
  8. It appears that many internal examinations at high school level will need to be conducted at home, with parents serving as invigilators. We will develop a disclosure form, where students and parents sign to the effect that the work is the student’s own work and has been done under examination conditions. This step is in anticipation of what credentialing authorities are expected to require. We envisage that examination times will have a specific schedule and the questions will go offline at the end of that time.
  9. At this stage, one casualty of our remote relationships is student birthday cards. With most staff working offsite, we lack the current capacity to generate the student labels and with reception mostly being conducted remotely, we lack the capacity to post these out. I am sorry about this. We hope normality will re-establish itself soon.
  10. We understand that some of our seniors are not practising social distancing.  Teenagers can often feel invincible. Parents need to remind them please that they too can catch COVID-19 and become very ill, and they may pass it on to you and other family members!
  11. With Mr Pratt leaving our employment from Design and Visual Arts at the end of term, we are being joined by Mr Thomas Wong, an experienced teacher with expertise in Design and Technology, Timber and Computing. He will have a handover with Mr Pratt (online) and commence work having inherited all files at the beginning of Term 2.  Mr Pratt’s classes will need to adjust to being taught remotely by someone they have never met!
  12. I have sent a message to all high school students today. It can be found at:

https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/1797535a-37cb-42ef-8811-971a5df47ef8.

My message to Junior School and Gawura students will be embedded in next week’s Easter service.

  1. There has been some concern about my exposure as the oldest full-time member of staff, and so I am bowing to pressure and working from home from tomorrow. This will limit my capacity to be in contact with parents, other than when I manage to creep into the office in the depth of night, knowing I have scope within the current embargo because any visits I make are for educational purposes.
  2. I am looking forward to actually seeing and speaking with as many of you as possible, as soon as possible.
  3. Do have, as far as possible, a Happy Easter! I remind you of the encouraging messages that can be accessed from the Cathedral at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHDDTI-s978&feature=youtu.be
  4. Eat some chocolate!

Update 2 on 27 March 2020

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

We are living through extraordinary times. As you know, we are endeavouring to run as close as we possibly can to ‘full school’ i.e. where we continue our core business of education under remote mode. We spent a lot of time preparing for this likelihood, training and equipping staff, and testing our systems. We cannot afford to waste a learning year for students. For this reason, we are delivering learning and assessment online. I am very encouraged by the number of creative lessons teachers have developed.

Please be aware that for teaching staff the current environment is not less work, but more. They are in new territory, developing new kinds of lessons to deliver remotely and endeavouring, despite the restrictions of physical distance, to meet the needs of individual students. I have encouraged staff to put some boundaries around their time, so that they are not running themselves ragged. They too are trying in many cases to supervise their own children at home, as indeed are many of you. Please do not bombard them with questions and expect immediate answers. Out of their professionalism and concern for their students, they will all do their very best.

We all recognise the difficulty of keeping students focussed, given the repetitive nature of some online work. All of us, staff and parents, will need to work together to this end, as the indications are we may be in this mode for quite some time.  Some predictions are that a resumption of physical schooling is unlikely before Term 3. We can give no assurances at this stage.

Just as we are attempting to deliver full school, in terms of learning, we are trying to maintain pastoral connectivity with our students. This is important for their welfare, which will be enhanced by a strong sense of belonging. We are aware that a situation of some isolation will exacerbate mental health issues for some of our students. Parents who are concerned about this are encouraged to make contact with the appropriate school counsellor, and if necessary organise an online conference for their son or daughter.

Our Christian education programs will continue to be run through daily devotions and online chapel. We will continue, as far as possible, to deliver our co-curricular programs through the provision, for instance, of rehearsal music, podcasts and videos. While our Junior School/Gawura and high school sports program is on hold for the moment, we certainly want our students to remain fit, ready for a resumption of sport as soon as possible. Some of our sporting staff are rolling out online information to this end.

Our outdoor education programs are on hold until Term 3. Our outdoor education staff and sports interns have been relocated to Kirrikee to undertake site maintenance and development work.

Term 2 fees invoices will be despatched in the coming weeks. There are perhaps several things to say about that:

  1. We are aware that as the economy slows some of our parents will struggle financially. The school wishes to be sympathetic to people who are struggling at this time. Those who need to negotiate extended time to pay fees should make contact with our Executive Director School Services, Ms Nicola Warwick-Mayo.
  2. In connection with fees, please be aware that the school needs to be able to pay its own creditors. Most of our expenses are, in fact, the salaries of our staff, the very people who are exerting themselves so splendidly in a new domain to support our students at this time. The school also needs to continue to pay rent, representing millions of dollars, on its own premises.  The school needs to continue to function for our students and parents.
  3. Clearly, some activities such as excursions and outdoor education are currently in recess.  We are reviewing the timing of our outdoor education program to see if camps and activities can be offered later in the year.   However, the Curriculum and Activities Levy, which covers the cost of excursions, will not be charged for Term 2. This will represent some saving for all parents.

At this time, to the best of our knowledge, no one in our school community has contracted COVID-19.  A number of staff, parents and students have been tested, and all tests have been negative.

We will continue to be challenged in many ways by the current situation. We will continue to work together, staff, parents and students, to the best outcome. We know the crisis will end.  We don’t know when that will be. Here at SACS we continue to place our trust in the Lord God and ask that he will relieve our situation.

Update 1 on 27 March 2020

Dear Year 7-12 parents and students,

We have made it to the end of our first week of remote learning and hopefully there are not too many more! However, we are planning on continuing in this manner until the end of Term 1, Wednesday 8 April. Dr Collier will advise of any changes to Term 2 operations.

Please find here a link to all our Remote Learning Guides and Policies. It is very important that these are read by all students and parents. These also include how students will be assessed in Semester 1 and how remote learning works in practical subjects.

Students are reminded to:

  • Wear school/PE uniform to all video conferences;
  • Turn their webcams on if requested by a teacher;
  • Complete Tutor Group roll call between 8am-8.30am every school day. If students complete the form outside these times they will be marked absent;
  • Complete all work set and be ready for classes. You will receive an infringement if you are unprepared, which will appear in the Student/Parent Friday Digest and may result in your parents/carers being contacted;
  • Read lesson instructions carefully so you don’t ask unnecessary questions. Try asking a fellow student first before asking the teacher; and
  • Be available for a Tutor Group video conference once/week and a 1-2-1 call from your Tutor once/fortnight.

As the Uniform Store is closed, parents do not need to buy winter uniforms at this stage for Term 2. There will be leniency around summer/winter uniform in Term 2 until we return to normal on-site operations.

If you have any questions or concerns, please direct these to the relevant teacher, pastoral leader, divisional head or myself.

Brad Swibel
Deputy Head of School (Secondary)

Update on 23 March 2020

As I pen these remarks, I am aware that the situation with the current epidemic is so fluid, that by the time my comments are read, they may be out of date, overtaken by events.

In conformity with the instructions from our Premier this morning – Monday 23 March – the school will move entirely onto online learning and encourage parents to keep their children at home if possible. The school will remain physically open for those parents who choose to send their children and minimum supervision will be provided, however, again in conformity with the Premier’s instruction, we will move entirely to online mode, whether students receive this at school or in their homes. This is the very mode we trialled successfully last Friday.

In order to maintain continuity of learning and pastoral services, we intend to deliver, as far as practically possible, the full services of the school. Teachers will not only provide learning resources, but be available for online discussion and assistance and assessment of student work, with corresponding feedback. Practical subjects will embark on theory aspects of coursework for the time being. Our pastoral teams will continue to check in with students and our School Counsellors have developed online consultation protocols. We are anticipating our chaplaincy staff offering a daily devotion, accessible to students and staff. We are exploring ways to deliver Chapel online. The only exceptions to full service delivery relate to aspects of our co-curricular program, where, consistent with the advice of our meetings and social distancing, some of these have been put on hold for the time being. However, with respect to sport, we are expecting to deliver online information to our teams about training and particularly about keeping fit in order for an eventual resumption of the physical sporting program later in the year. Other aspects of co-curricular programs will endeavour to provide online resources for students relevant to their area of interest. Already, ensembles have been given rehearsal music.

We cannot afford to forsake a whole year of schooling for our students, which is why we are determined to offer full services as far as possible, by distance mode.

Until now, the school has remained physically open for all teaching activities according not only to advice but entreaties from NSW Health, the Association of Independent Schools, the Premier and the Prime Minister. Their view has been that to close schools prematurely would worsen the impact of the virus rather than limit its spread. This argument is based on the notion that young people are, unless they have a major chronic illness, the least liable to be seriously affected by COVID-19, should they contract it. David Isaacs, Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases at Sydney University and the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, has been quoted as saying that COVID-19, in the case of children, behaves entirely differently from influenza in the case of the young. He claims that there is little evidence that children infected with the illness are passing it on to other children. Medical evidence suggests that students who catch this illness would find it presents as a minor cold, and for some it will be so minor they will not even know they are infected. The concern therefore has been that if students aren’t at school, they will be looked after by grandparents (the elderly are an ‘at risk’ group) or be found in shopping centres and other areas of mixed generation potential contagion.

Medical experts are not united in this view. Some of our own parents with such expertise believe we should have closed before now. Some have pointed out that as our students travel extensively on public transport, they are at greater risk of contamination than those who attend local schools, accessed mainly by walking. The force of this argument is acknowledged, however, SACS in that respect is not different from the majority of independent schools, which also rely heavily on trains and buses to deliver their students to and from school each day. Up until now, there has been little evidence of community contagion, apart from those who have travelled overseas. Our School Council Finance & Risk committee has therefore been of the view that for SACS as an individual school to make a unilateral decision to withdraw classes would make very little contribution to the public health of the community. There is the sense that we need to operate in conjunction with what the schooling system overall is doing. It appears our health and political leaders now believe that we have come to a tipping point, where it would be preferable for most students to stay at home. We are therefore implementing this advice as of now. In order to protect our staff who choose to come to school rather than exercise the option of working from home, the school is offering to pay for parking, so that they can drive to and from work, thereby avoiding public transport.

SACS has been attempting to prepare responsibly for a time when the decision may be made to move entirely to online delivery of curriculum and assessment. We have trialled such delivery and have been pleased with not only the capacity of our IT platforms, but the excellent cooperation of students and parents. I am grateful to staff for their diligence in managing what to many is a very unfamiliar means of teaching.

The difficulty in withdrawing personal attendance of students early has been that it may commit us to relating to our students off-site for many months. A number of our parents have appeared to assume that if the school sends students home for just a couple of weeks, it can then re-open for onsite delivery. In fact, all the modelling suggests that the situation will be worse in late April and May than it is now. Some are of the view that once schools move to this mode, they may very likely not be able to readmit students to regular classes for months, or, in a worst case scenario, until 2021. Moving into remote learning now and then converting to full in-class delivery at a time when the virus is more prevalent in the community has not seemed to be a helpful possibility. Accordingly, much of the debate amongst health, educational and political leaders has been about timing.

Initial advice from NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) is that they will allow flexibility in meeting requirements of state and national curriculum, particularly as related to the HSC. The International Baccalaureate Organisation has been quick to do the same. As an international curriculum authority, the IBO is familiar with the need to deal with revolutions, floods and epidemics which disrupt schooling.

This is a time of heightened anxiety in our community. We have seen that in the extraordinary behaviour of people in shopping centres. We have unfortunately witnessed a few Middle School parents, who are not accustomed to using our kiss and drop zone, verbally abusing staff when the traffic became congested. While I understand in times of crisis people are inclined to look to their own interests, I urge all of our parents to think about, and on behalf of, the whole community.

We have requested our pastoral staff to check in regularly with their particular flocks of students for whom they exercise responsibility. As a staff, we have been reassured by the words of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  (The Lord says), “Be still, and know that I am God.

Younger children are particularly vulnerable to anxiety as they try to understand what is happening. They will need reassurance and interpretation not only from school but at home.

We have been enacting the very best of hygiene precautions and social distancing, such as we can as a large school community. Cleaners are continually moving through the school disinfecting door handles and other surfaces. Students have been instructed to wash hands with soap and water prior to eating; hand sanitisers are available in every classroom.

These are uncertain and difficult times. Everyone – staff, parents and students – must try to do everything possible to navigate this uncertainty. Our desire as a school is to be agile in responding to advice, and very communicative with parents.

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 19 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

I wish to extend our thanks for your support of our remote learning trial yesterday. The School Executive have gone through all of the student, staff and parent survey responses and data. There has been overwhelming confidence in our systems and processes and we are pleased with the delivery of materials and engagement of students.

The feedback shows there is a need for further training of our Junior School and Gawura students and K-12 staff. To this end, we will continue training our K-6 students in remote learning at school tomorrow (Friday). On Monday 23 March, K-12 students will learn from home. This is not another remote learning trial, this time is to enable further staff training and for staff to develop curriculum materials and processes in case of extended remote learning. Please see details below:

Monday 23 March

  • K-6 (Junior School and Gawura)
    • all students work from home
    • teachers will post lesson instructions by 9am (K – 2 See Saw; Y3 – 6 Schoology)
    • class teacher will video conference their class at 9am to discuss the day’s work (school / sports uniform is required for this video conference)
    • due to the staff training on the day, there will be no interaction with teachers after 9:30am.
  • Years 7-12
    • all students work from home (as there is no video conferencing, mufti dress is permitted)
    • teachers will post lesson instructions by 8.30am in Schoology
    • teachers will be available on email between 8.30am – 9am to answer any questions about the day’s work
    • due to the staff training on the day, there will be no interaction with teachers after 9am

If your child cannot stay home, there will be limited supervision available in our school libraries, and they should report to reception by 8.30am. Please email the [email protected] if your child requires supervision at school.

We thank you for your continued support in this challenging time.

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Mr Brad Swibel                                             
Deputy Head of School (Secondary)

Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura, Acting Head, Junior School

Update on 18 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

This post is to provide clarity on what is happening with respect to attendance at St Andrew’s Cathedral School and Gawura, tomorrow and Friday i.e. 19 and 20 March 2020.  We are conforming to current advice from NSW Health, education authorities, the Premier and Prime Minister, which is that we should remain open, servicing the learning needs of our students in regular classrooms.

We plan to gain feedback from both students and staff on today’s Kindergarten to Year 12 remote learning trial, so that we can overcome any delivery problems.

We expect and require our students and families to abide by all the advice they have been given, which is essentially in four domains:

  1. Maintain excellent hygiene, especially hand hygiene, with washing with soap and water prior to eating, and avoidance, as far as possible, of touching other people and one’s face.  In this we are following medical advice that this particular form of Coronavirus is transmitted commonly through touch.
  2. Exercise social distancing as far as this is possible. For this reason we are limiting the size of gatherings at school.
  3. Maintain self-exclusion advice for those who have recently returned from overseas or been in close contact with those who have so travelled.
  4. In order to protect the rest of our school community, no one is to attend school if they are unwell.

Notwithstanding this advice, we are aware that a time may come when schools, including SACS and Gawura, need to move for a period into remote delivery of teaching to students at home.

We remain on alert for further advice, and perhaps instruction, from authorities, and will inform parents with the greatest possible notice we can manage if the situation changes.

These are challenging times, and we are all grateful for the goodwill and cooperation of our parent community as we try to best maintain the continuing work of our students and staff.

Regards,

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 16 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

I write to provide further information on the school’s response to Coronavirus. We are operating in response to the best and most recent advice from NSW Health (see letter from the NSW Ministry of Health here and in Mandarin here) and the Association of Independent Schools. In summary, the school will remain open currently for core business i.e. classroom teaching, but, as outlined below, we are taking enhanced precautions.

The advice from the health experts is that pre-emptive closing of schools will probably do more harm than good. This is because:

  • Young people are not in the ‘at risk’ category, unless they have an additional major health issue. Medical advice is that most young people who contract Coronavirus will find it presents only as a minor cold. The most extensive experience of youth with this illness has been in China, where of the tens of thousands of people confirmed with Coronavirus, there was only one death in the under 19 aged bracket. In Italy, the epicentre of the virus in Europe, the average age of death from the virus is 82.
  • The most at risk aged category is the elderly. Students excluded from schools which are closed may in many cases need to be supervised by grandparents, which would increase the risk level of this older age group.
  • Young people not able to attend schools because they are closed, would very likely be out in shopping centres and the community mixing, which would increase contagion.
  • An early closure of schools may be very unhelpful, as medical experts predict the virus will peak in Australia in May. Accordingly, if schools close now and open later, they may be opening at the time of greatest vulnerability.
  • We need to look ahead at what an early closure might mean. It may consign us to be closed for up to six months, which is the predicted life of any epidemic in Australia. We have real doubts as to whether our parents, and indeed our students, could cope with a closure of that length, given the supervision requirements of our younger students and the sophisticated curriculum requirements of our older students.
  • Experts advise that if schools close, that will take many healthcare professionals away from the jobs, as they will need to look after children at home. This would impede the capacity of the health system to deal with those who are ill. We therefore need to be aware of the larger picture in society.
  • Currently, according to our health briefings, Australians who have contracted Coronavirus have either been infected overseas or been in very close proximity with family members who have been overseas. Widespread community transmission of the disease has not yet occurred. It is up to governments to determine the appropriate time for more widespread closures to prevent such transmission, and of course they will attempt to enact such closures neither too early nor too late.

At the time of writing, no schools in NSW, whether government, non-government or independent have been closed, except temporarily in response to someone in their school community diagnosed with Coronavirus. We have no one identified with Coronavirus. If someone is identified, we will receive immediate contact from NSW Health. Currently, to the best of my knowledge, two boarding schools in Australia, one in Victoria and one in Tasmania, are the only schools which have closed, and that decision is related to their boarding houses.

We are doing are very best to manage our school’s response conscientiously and carefully. Our school critical incident team is meeting every day and considering any updates from NSW Health and the Association of Independent Schools. This morning, we have enacted the following additional protective steps, which will apply until further notice:

  1. If you or your child has returned from overseas (any country) in the last 14 days, we ask that you and your child self-isolate until the expiry of that 14-day period and not attend school in that time.
  2. School assemblies, school excursions and inter-school sporting events and training are cancelled.
  3. Gatherings within the school of more than 50 people are cancelled, or broken into small groups. This includes music ensemble rehearsals.
  4. Staff external in-service and conferences are cancelled.
  5. Non-essential staff travel is cancelled.
  6. Outdoor education camps are suspended.
  7. Junior School and Gawura dismissal times will be staggered to limit the size of parent gatherings at the front of the school, as parents and carers wait for children. They are as follows:
    Stage 1 – 2.50pm
    Stage 2 – 3.10pm
    Stage 3 – 3.00pm
    Gawura – normal arrangements for the bus.
  8. Parent lanyards are suspended. Any parents needing to visit the school will need to sign a declaration that they have no Coronavirus symptoms and have not travelled overseas in the last 14 days.
  9. Visitor access to the school will be strictly by appointment.

Parents whose children have chronic illnesses which place them in an at risk category, are advised to seek medical advice as to whether they should quarantine their children at this stage. Such conditions include, but are not limited to lung conditions, including asthma, diabetes and cancer (we have at least one student currently being treated).

Some parents have pre-emptively excluded their children and asked for the school to provide remote learning facilities. Staff can most certainly place work on our platforms, but they cannot both teach classes and teach remotely simultaneously, as this would be logistically impossible.

A very helpful summary from ABC news related to the current situation can be accessed by clicking the link below:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-16/should-i-keep-my-children-home-from-school-due-to-coronavirus/12058200

In order to prepare ourselves for a worst case scenario (which we hope does not occur), we are undertaking further trialling of remote learning tomorrow afternoon and on Wednesday. Information about this will be communicated to parents and caregivers very soon.

I very much appreciate the goodwill of parents and the number who have been very responsible in asking questions about their own travel and their own contact. We will proceed on the basis of the best possible advice and in concert with the education sector in general. We all need to function calmly and wisely in what will be a testing situation.

Yours faithfully,

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 11 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

Please accept my apologies for the frequency of communications on this topic, however we are dealing with a fluid situation where getting timely information into the hands of parents is important.

The School Executive continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, consulting with NSW Health and the AIS (Association of Independent Schools) and constantly evaluating the impact it may have on the school and its activities.

We ask that all families support the school by adopting the following precautions:

  • If your child is not well, do not send them to school.
  • If your child or family members in your household have travelled to China, Iran, South Korea, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore we ask that your child self-isolates for 14 days and does not attend the school unless you can provide a doctor’s certificate with a negative test result for COVID-19.
  • If you or your child has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, please notify the school immediately, self-isolate and test for COVID-19.

A risk management plan has been enacted which involves the following:

  • Work has been set for quarantined students
  • All students and staff are reminded to regularly wash hands
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures have been enacted
  • International Tours have been cancelled
  • National travel and excursions are being risk assessed on a case-by-case basis
  • Large school events are being evaluated
  • A self declaration protocol has been enacted for visitors
  • Planning is underway for whole-school remote learning, should that be necessary.

Trialling remote learning

The school will be conducting a full year group ‘online remote learning trial’ with Year 9 staff and students on Friday 13 March. The purpose of the trial is to test the school’s capability to provide alternative learning structures off campus, should they be needed. There is no imminent need for this at the present time, however it is prudent for us to test and learn, given the evolving nature of the situation. Staff, students and parents of Year 9 will be briefed on Wednesday 11 March.

Please consider your need to travel

We respect the right of individual families to travel, however we advise that quarantine measures will be imposed by the school based on NSW Health advice and our own assessment of risk. Guidance is changing frequently and could even change during the course of a trip, necessitating a student’s exclusion from school upon your return, causing unfortunate disruption to learning continuity.

You can contact our School Nurse directly on [email protected] or 9286 9570 if needed. Please see NSW Health details for more information: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 3 March 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

Due to the continually changing nature of the Coronavirus situation and the fluidity of the advice being provided by health authorities, below is an update on the way the school is responding to COVID-19.

The NSW Health Department has now urged people returning from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran to be vigilant in monitoring themselves for respiratory symptoms or fever. If you or a family member has, or is about to, return from any of these areas, we ask that you self-isolate for 14 days and not attend the school. We have a number of assistive measures in place to support students on our learning management system and teachers are available on email or phone as is necessary to maintain schooling.

NSW Chief Health Officer has confirmed that there appears to now be evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia, and so we are taking precautions to protect our school community and we ask that you do the same.

The scheduled History Tour to Europe, Music Tour of Japan and the Languages Tour to China were cancelled last week. We will look at other opportunities for learning enrichment that do not pose the same potential health risks.

We have also stepped up a series of hygiene measures – students and staff are advised to wash their hands regularly; workspaces, desktops and other hard services are being disinfected regularly. We also remind everyone about the protocol of coughing and encourage anyone with flu like symptoms to stay in quarantine at home.

If you do self-isolate, please email the relevant School office with details of which countries you or your relatives have travelled to and the date when you arrived back in Australia:

You can contact our School Nurse directly on [email protected] or 9286 9570 if needed. The School will continue to monitor the situation closely and respond to recommendations from NSW Health. Please see NSW Health details for more information https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx.

Regards,

Dr John Collier
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral School
Head, St Andrew’s Cathedral Gawura School

Update on 28 January 2020

Dear parents and caregivers,

In light of the most recent updates from the NSW Government issued tonight, we have revised our request regarding students and families who have been in China in the past two weeks.

The NSW Government has today requested that “children who have visited China in the last two weeks not attend school or childcare services until 14 days have lapsed from their date of departure from China.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said although the risk to children is very low, the NSW Government has taken this step as a precautionary measure.

“The internationally recognised incubation period for the coronavirus is 14 days, so this is the logical timeframe to ask students to refrain from attending school. After this time, there is no risk.

Any student who has visited China or Hong Kong in the last two weeks, must not attend St Andrew’s Cathedral School for 14 days after departure from China or Hong Kong.

Please contact the School Reception. This will be recorded as justified leave.

A Chinese translation of this letter will be sent out shortly.

We thank all of our families for their support at this extraordinary time.

Ms Rhonda Robson and Mr Brad Swibel
Deputy Heads of School

Remote Learning

Remote learning guides and policies

Remote learning guides and policies have been developed for our students and parents/carers to follow at home. It is very important that students and parents/carers read these carefully. To read and download these documents, visit:

Is the school ready for remote learning?

SACS has been preparing for online delivery of curriculum and assessment since near the start of the year. Our systems have been fully tested, our students and staff have been through rounds of training, staff have been provided with the time to adapt their programs and are ready for remote teaching.

  • For Secondary School students, learning will primarily take place through Schoology, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft OneNote – the school’s Learning Management System 
  • For Junior School/Gawura School students, learning will be on See Saw (K – 2) and Schoology (3 – 6) plus Microsoft OneNote (5-6)
What guidelines are in place for parent-teacher contact?

It would be appreciated if parents/carers only email staff during school hours:  8.30am – 3.15pm. You should expect a normal turn-around of two working days for a reply.

Will IT support be available to students?

If students need support for their school supplied device they can email [email protected] on Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am and 4pm. IT staff will be able to remotely access student devices as a part of the support provided.

What are students expected to wear?

Any student involved in video conferencing with staff must wear PE or school uniform.

Any students attending school must wear full school uniform including their blazer.

School Closure

Will the school close?

In keeping with the NSW Premier’s instructions on 23 March, St Andrew’s Cathedral School has transitioned to remote learning mode. Parents are encouraged to keep their children at home, if at all possible.

Where parents are unable to keep their children at home, the school will remain physically open and supervision of limited numbers of students will be provided for online learning, at school.

What if my child has left things they need at school?

If any student requires materials from school for remote learning, they should call Reception on 9286 9500 to make an appointment.

What arrangements are in place for practical subjects?

In the secondary school, our Deputy Head of School will communicate more detail to parents and students regarding the various arrangements.

What are the arrangements if I want to send my child to school?

It will be assumed that all students are learning from home unless parents have contacted their relevant divisional Reception by 3pm the day prior. This is so that the school has enough time to organise supervision of students in remote learning mode, at school.

It needs to be stressed that students onsite will learn remotely, consistent with those who are at home, and so those coming to school will need to bring their device and charger with them.

What will the school day be like for students who come into school?

Students who are coming to school for the day, should bring their own packed lunch. This includes Senior College students, who at this time when we are attempting to reduce social contact, will be prohibited from leaving school buildings at recess and lunch times.

Students who are attending school are expected to be here for the full day and not ‘dip in and out’. The latter would put the school in the impossible situation in terms of exercising duty of care.

How will social distancing be managed at school?

Students and staff are required to stay 1.5m apart.

What access will be provided to the school from Wednesday 25 March?

Access to the school for students and parents will be further restricted and will be by appointment only.

How long with the school be in remote delivery mode?

At this stage until the end of Term 1. Parents will be advised over the holidays regarding arrangements for Term 2.

What if I have a child in Year 12?

NESA (the NSW Educational Standards Authority) are meeting this week for further discussion on how to conduct the HSC under these conditions.

The International Baccalaureate Organisation have already cancelled the May session IB Diploma (Northern Hemisphere) examinations, and will rely entirely on school based assessments.

Helpful External Links

Where are we getting our advice from?

The NSW Health website provides up to date and accurate information in both English and Mandarin. The school is closely monitoring the situation, placing the highest priority on advice provided by NSW Health and our peak body, the Association of Independent Schools (AIS). 

We will continue to review and update our advice as new information becomes available.