​I am sure you will have heard Scott Morrison’s announcement of new regulations and guidelines for the next week. The government is following the advice of the chief medical officer and other health experts who have significant expertise in this area. Their aim is not to stop the virus but to flatten the bell curve of infection. Schools have an important role to play in this.

Morrison has announced that for the moment schools will remain open. The government view, backed by medical expertise, is that closing schools at this point in time could negatively impact the flattening of the bell curve. As Morrison noted, closing schools will cause significant disruption to parents and guardians, who include doctors, nurses and others in the medical profession who have a vital role to play in fighting this virus. It will also significantly affect the ability of teachers to continue teaching their students. Having thousands of teenagers out of school also poses a challenge to containing the virus.

I confirm that tomorrow St Catherine’s will be open. Girls should go straight to class for their first two lessons. After period 2 they will be advised about what they should do during morning tea, academic care time and lunch.

We have a senior team that meets regularly to assess this unfolding situation. The team is meeting tomorrow at 7.30am. We will continue to follow government and medical advice, as well as undertake our own risk analysis in all the decisions we make. Our focus tomorrow will be:

  • Ensuring our teaching continues but paring back all non-essential activities and events.  We will look at each one in turn and either cancel, postpone or find alternative ways to continue the activity/event.

  • Maximising social distancing. We will ask everyone to avoid shaking hands and hugging and to, as far as possible, keep 1.5 metres away from each other.

  • Looking for ways that we can minimise the mixing between classes and year groups. Assemblies, house meetings and chapels that involve more than one year group have been cancelled.  We will also put in place plans to minimise the mixing of year groups at morning tea and lunch times.

  • Ensuring that visitors do not enter the school as far as is possible.

  • Reviewing our after-school care processes and holiday programs.

 

After the meeting I will update you on the decisions we have made. The current advice is that it is safer to have children in school than out of school.  We will do everything we can to make sure the school environment is as safe as possible for everyone.

As we all know, advice is changing on a daily basis, and we will keep you abreast of the decisions we make as the week unfolds. At some point the medical experts may decide it is best for schools to close. We are prepared for that should it happen.

This is a team effort and the more vigilant we all are about hygiene precautions and social distancing, the more we can control the timing of the spread of the virus.  

Thank you for your ongoing support in these difficult times.

Dr Julie Townsend​

Headmistress