I take this opportunity to welcome you and your children to the start of Term 3. I trust you were all able to enjoy some quality family time during the holidays and that your sons / daughters are well rested and ‘raring to go!’ We look forward to a productive term. Each term of the school year has its own character and ‘feeling’, and this will be particularly relevant for this quarter as we cross-over to a fulltime on-site learning programme for all pupils while rigorously maintaining Health and Safety practices through the peak of the C-19 pandemic in South Africa. I am pleased with the more than 80% attendance during this first week.
Dorian Larter, as our COVID Compliance Officer, and his COVID Committee have gone to extreme lengths in planning meticulously for adherence to the essentials for running the school safely for staff, pupils and parents during this time. It has been said that nothing about Coronavirus is simple, except the small actions that can be taken to prevent its spread. Our Standard Operating Procedures are detailed, and certainly not simple, but they ensure compliance, from the start to finish of each day, to the basic principles of thorough screening, social distancing, mask wearing and hygiene. We assure you that both the quality of the education on offer at Cowan House and the safety of your children are equally important. Please refer to the SOP Document published on the d6 for evidence of this.
I would also wish to comment on the important role schools play in creating a social hub of connectivity and awareness in communities for both our boys and girls, and you as parents. In these C-19 days, holding on to opportunities for real-time learning is important; pupils learn so much more than the academic curriculum through interaction with each other, their mentors and teachers, and I urge you all to be disciplined in following safety protocols both at home and at school so that we can keep the core spirit of a holistic Cowan House education alive and well. We, as a school community, are also urged to practise C-19 protocols strictly outside the school environment to ensure the success of our school safety programme.
Although we embrace the opportunity for all pupils to return to classroom-based teaching, we will be making provision for pupils still requiring a remote learning platform. As indicated in previous communications, our amended school day, running from 08h00-13h00, is a compressed academic timetable that will have our teachers fully engaged in teaching during this time. This will make it very difficult to run a full online programme concurrently, but we will make sure those working online are not left behind in the curriculum during this time.
In the Senior Primary, we have arranged for grade co-ordinators to relay the teaching programme for pupils requiring remote access. They will also assist in loading the weekly programme on to Microsoft Teams and making this available to the relevant pupils. Sally Hallowes will be responsible for Grade 4, Tarryn van Rooyen for Grade 5, Martin Bloy for Grade 6, and Jonathan Browne for Grade 7. Junior Primary and Pre Primary classes will provide a combination of online connection and work packs for each week. Guidelines for ‘connect times’ with pupils and parents working from home will be communicated by each phase and SP grade coordinators.
Craig Hoyer has planned our Outdoor Programme to ensure the same degree of safety for pupils and staff. Senior Primary pupils will have one Outdoor Session, per grade, from 13h10-14h00, per week – Monday (Grade 4), Tuesday (Grade 6), Wednesday (Grade 5), Thursday (Grade 7). Junior Primary pupils have 2 half hour Outdoor Lessons built into their school day. In these sessions, pupils will remain in their class groups as well as be split into boy and girl units, allowing for small groups of 8-10 pupils being taken for fitness lessons on their own designated field. SA Cricket and Hockey have communicated their adherence to a policy of no sporting activities being permitted under the current C-19 conditions. We will be guided by these policies.
Although we will keep adjusting our programmes and protocols (as informed by the changing environment and directives from ISASA and the DBE), research supports the return to school as a healthy option for children. Some go as far to suggest that children affected by school closure are at risk of lasting psychological distress. The regular routine of school and friends normalises things a little and can offset the anxiety experienced in homes as parents cope with the dual role of working, teaching and, in many cases, financial tensions resulting from C-19.
I wish you all a wonderful term with your children and thank you for your continued support in so many ways.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity
– Amelia Earhart