From the Head Master
During the daily press conference today, the Premier and the Education Minister made a number of significant announcements regarding the return to school. I imagine that many people watched the conference or have read about it in the news since.
Recognising that any statements about what the future holds need to be made tentatively, it was encouraging to see that there is a proposed path to bring students back to school. The government has indicated that a return to face to face teaching will take place in a staggered fashion from Week 4 of Term 4. An indicative order of return has been given, but time will tell whether this return will take place as currently planned. Obviously, we hope it will!
The government has also reiterated their commitment to the Higher School Certificate examinations taking place, although the commencement of the examinations has been pushed back until Week 6 (November 9). The School’s decision to extend the Middle and Senior School’s Academic Year until the end of the calendar year, which I made known to the community earlier today, will enable us to support the Year 12 students in the lead up to this delayed start. At this point we are also working towards the IB Diploma examinations taking place as scheduled, although it will be a change to the usual order of things for the IB Diploma examinations to take place before the HSC.
At present, the School is operating under Level 4 restrictions, whereby students are required to learn from home. The return to face to face classes will take place under Level 3 restrictions. The School has operated under the equivalent of Level 3 restrictions before and we are confident that we will be able to do so again. Much more information will be provided to families as to the nature of Level 3 restrictions and the precautions that the School will be taking in due course. We note that this plan will commence rolling out in some eight weeks’ time, and a lot can change in that time.
The other very important announcement that was made today is that the Pfizer vaccine is now recommended for all people from 12 years of age. Effectively, this means that all secondary students are now eligible for the vaccine. In accordance with the School’s enrolment contract with families, which requires the provision of information regarding immunisation status, I anticipate being in contact with eligible families shortly to request that information for our records. While no indication has been given by the government that students’ return to school is conditional on individual vaccination, there is no doubt that all of us are safer as more of us get vaccinated. The School urges families and all eligible students to heed the advice of medical professionals and to seek vaccination as a priority.
The Premier also indicated that school staff will be required to be vaccinated by 8 November. No detail was provided around this statement, but I want to assure families that the School is strongly encouraging staff to be vaccinated. At the time of writing, the proportion of school staff who are vaccinated is ahead of the State. 43% of our staff have indicated that they are fully vaccinated and a further 24% have had their first vaccination. I am hopeful that the government’s intention to provide priority for school staff in the near future will drive these proportions higher.
Finally, the School community will be aware that we had confirmed cases of COVID-19 attend the Preparatory School on Thursday and Friday last. Consequently, the campus was closed and a number of staff and students were designated as close contacts and required to self-isolate. I am pleased to inform you that, at the time of writing, none of these contacts have developed COVID. Our interactions with NSW Health, through the Association of Independent Schools NSW, in response to this situation have resulted in the School’s management and operations being highly commended for organisation, compliance and courtesy! My particular thanks to all those who have been affected by this situation for their patience, grace and resilience.
Once again, I thank all the members of the School community – students, staff and parents – for their ongoing support of the School as we seek to provide our boys with an education that will equip them well for life’s challenges.
Detur gloria soli Deo.
Tim Bowden | Head Master
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