From the Head of the Junior School

Dear Parents and Friends of the Junior School,

I welcome all students and their families back for our final term of this most unusual 2021 school year. We welcome Mr Patrick O’Connor to our school as 4J Class Teacher this term and welcome back Mr Hassall after his term on leave. He has returned to a very different working environment to that which he left!

We now have confirmed dates for each grade to return to school and can countdown to the end of this extended session of remote learning. So, I draw attention to the Head Master’s words from his Bulletin at the conclusion of last term…

I want to pay tribute to our students. The experiences of our older students are obviously very different to those of the younger ones. We know that sustaining engagement with learning has been particularly challenging for some of our boys. However, it also appears that the majority of the boys are coping remarkably well in these adverse times. The long-term impact of an extended experience of remote learning and social isolation cannot be fully known, but I think we have some grounds for optimism that the challenges will have some positive impacts in the formation of our boys’ character, dispositions and capabilities.

I wish to echo Mr Bowden’s sentiments that the boys are to be congratulated and that we have reason for optimism in their growth that we have and will continue to see emerge as a result of facing challenges over the last three months.

That said, we all welcome the impending return to campus of boys who will now have between 33 and 38 days with their peers and teachers before the end of term (assuming there are no further interruptions). The acceleration of the return to school announced by the State Government this week will have no impact on the scheduling for Junior School boys as we had pre-emptively accelerated Years 2-6 in our scheduling. It is the expectation that all boys return to campus on the day indicated for their cohort – any special circumstances necessitating a variation from this should be discussed with Mr Hassall as soon as possible.  

It is essential that parents engage with the information distributed via email on Tuesday morning in the Junior School Return to School Information Booklet. There are many important details contained in the introductory and cohort-specific pages that shed light on:

  • The return dates for each cohort
  • Modified start and finish times for each day
  • Carpark ‘windows’ allocated for Junior School drop-off and pick-up
  • Safety protocols
  • Activities and Services that will/won’t be operating for at least Weeks 1-4

In short, for as long as the restrictions remain at Level 3+, the high priority placed on minimising contact between cohorts necessitates substantial modifications to how the School typically operates, especially significant for a primary school operating in one building but sharing a campus with Middle and Senior School. These modifications will be challenging but can also be overcome to allow boys the opportunity to again be with, play with and learn with their peers.

I particularly ask for parent cooperation with carpark timings and procedures. Maintaining separation between cohorts and accommodating the large volume of cars at the beginning and end of day will only be manageable if boys are delivered to and collected from school at the correct times. The only exception is younger brothers of Middle/Senior School boys who can be dropped at the earlier time to facilitate one morning drop-off. OSH Club will operate as usual in the afternoons.

Next week’s registration email for Week 3 attendance will ask parents of boys in Years 3-5 to indicate if their son will require on-site supervision for Week 3 (note this will remain in place for Week 3 only for those who can not learn from home). We will also ask parents of boys in Kindergarten – Year 2 and Year 6 to indicate if their son will not be returning in Week 3. As previously stated, this option necessitates a conversation with Mr Hassall.      

As this week’s continuation of the changing landscape has demonstrated, there is little certainty in what lies ahead, which is a challenge for planning. Hence, beyond Week 4, the School will publish details progressively to allow us the agility to respond to the evolving roadmap. The calendar for Term 4 features many events marked TBC that would usually be locked in at this time of year. We are giving careful consideration to events that will be prioritised for the boys in the limited number of days ahead and bearing in mind what is permissible. It is our hope that some events currently prohibited or practically impossible may be able to proceed in some capacity later in the term if restrictions continue to ease. We will keep you informed.  

The active and competitive aspect of the Move-a-thon has clearly struck a chord with many boys and families. 223 boys and teachers have logged over a quarter of a million moving minutes equating to over 200 days of moving! I remind everyone that the Move-a-thon ends next Friday so there are still 7 days (and nights) to boost those numbers further. Of course, the other aim of the Move-a-thon is to raise funds for two fantastic causes, the John MacLean Foundation and the Junior School Auxiliary. To this end, please help your son turn his minutes into dollars by sponsoring him or assisting him to approach family and friends to seek sponsorship. Some guidelines and the link to make donations are contained on the Sponsors & Donations page on the Move-a-thon site and linked here.  

Parents will also have received information this week about another Auxiliary fundraiser being run for each class to produce tea-towels featuring drawing from boys. These will make great Christmas presents. For now, it is important that boys do their drawing (as specified in the instructions) and send it to their teacher by the due date next week. Parent assistance to meet the deadline would be much appreciated.

I have no doubt that the upcoming term will fly by, with much to celebrate on the way and at the end, and also with some challenges, none bigger than our capacity to handle, and probably not as big as those we have already faced together!

Mark Dunn | Head of the Junior School

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

Psalm 33:20-21

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