Letter from the principal 1 june 2020

BY Mrs K Stear

Letter from the Principal:1 June 2020
Dear Parents / Guardians
Today would have been the restart of school for Grade 7s and 12s and the school seems especially quiet and sullen today as it seems to yearn to be filled with the sounds of learning and teaching.
Now that schools have partially re-opened for staff, I would like to fit in some staff news. We would like to congratulate Miss Jodi Hattingh and Mr Ryan Bowles who married during lockdown. We were excited to welcome back Mrs Jodi Bowles after lockdown. We congratulate Mrs Cathy Oldham who is now a proud granny! I would also like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Mrs de Ridder, a former staff member at Riebeek. It is with great sadness that we report on the passing of Mrs Melanie Calitz, wife of Mr Anton Calitz. We commend him on the long road he has walked supporting his wife during her battle with Cancer.
These are complicated times and there is much confusion, discussion and reportage. It can all be quite infuriating. I want to encourage all to wait for official school announcements as we are keeping abreast on the union statements, Department of Education instructions and we consult with various stakeholders. We will make sure you are informed of necessary information. For now, the most important documentation you need to review on the d6 and our Facebook page is
- The correspondence entitled Covid-19: A guide for parents and learners
- My letter to Grade 7 and 12 and other of 28 May
- The departmental letter with the form of what to do if you do not wish to have your child to return to school yet entitled Instruction Note 20.
The Minister of Basic Education has said in her media briefing this morning that the matrics and Grade 7s of all schools will return to school on Monday 8th June and that teachers and support staff are to return today to “mop up” and prepare the school for reopening and to induct and orientate staff in the Covid-19 protocols to be followed at school. Riebeek completed this process last week.
There is much discussion about home schooling and my best advice at this stage would be to wait a while before making this monumental decision. Perhaps by July or August, you would be in a better position to make this decision. We will attempt to supply some work for your daughter at home in the meantime until you are best able to make this decision.
There still seems to be some confusion about the procedure for when parents do not send their daughters back to school. It appears that parents who do not wish to send their children back to school will fit into one of three categories and I am attempting to get clarity on these matters. In the meantime, I want to provide you with a way forward. These are the options, as I see them:
1. Your child has a comorbidity or you have serious concerns and you wish to formalise this with the required documentation. You would apply for partial or full exemption from school attendance using Instruction Note 20 for your child to be excused from school. Please send the form to the school and not directly to the Department of Education. Although the form gives you a departmental email to send the form to, the form requires the principal’s signature so it will have to come to the school first. The school will support your daughter as much as possible until you feel more comfortable about sending your daughter to school as the form is only applicable to the 2020 school calendar year. The form states that, in terms of Section 4 of the South African Schools Act No. 84 of 1996, the Head of the Department may exempt a learner entirely or partially from school attendance. Such exemption will be granted if it is in the best interests of the learner. Certain conditions may be imposed by the Head of Department if exemption is granted. The reasons allowed for in this document include: medical reason/s attaching to the learner, the home/ physical environment of the learner, transport, school environment or other (which must be specified). It may be a good idea to fill in this form, send it to school and ask that the principal determine if or when it is best to submit this application.
2. Perhaps, you are confused and undecided about what to do and need time to make this important decision. Perhaps that anxiety is also evident in your child. Perhaps then, on a daily basis, you will assess your daughter’s health and determine if you wish to send an excuse note for her absence on that date or that period of time. As learners are to stay at home if they show any symptoms of Covid-19, it may be that you note a fever or weakness and determine that it is best for her to stay home. Perhaps, your family doctor may issue you with a medical certificate to excuse her from school for a period of time for anxiety or other conditions that would allow her to stay home with her absence being medically accounted for.
3. You decide to withdraw your child from Riebeek by sending us a letter as a matter of urgency, then you apply for home schooling and register with the Department of Education. This requires research from you and should not be a decision taken lightly. You would need to reapply to Riebeek should home schooling not work out for you or your daughter.
It is therefore clear from the above that this is grey area in terms of exactly what to do and this is something that parents will have to evaluate. I have attempted to provide you with a guide above about some options and the complexities. One thing though is certain and that is that the school needs paperwork from you if we are to adequately support you. Please make the effort to send us documentation, especially in the case of co-morbidities. We will treat this information with confidentiality but need to have a full picture of your situation in order to best manage the logistics of best assisting you.
As a parent and an educator, I know there are many strong feelings in favour of and against schools reopening. I appeal to you to respect opposing views and to be kind to each other with the difficult decisions each family has to make. From Riebeek’s perspective, we will do everything we can to ensure that those returning will do so in the safest possible environment.
Please note that we have said learners may wear civvies on their return to school. We also indicated that school uniform or the school tracksuit can be worn. The important thing is that no item is worn again until washed. In the event that your daughter opts to wear school uniform on a particular day, note that it would be winter school uniform. The Grade 7s were told they can bring a blanket, but I must emphasise that this blanket must be washed before it is brought to school again. The Grade 12s will be travelling to subject classes so we do not want them to have blankets with them as these are too bulky to carry with them.
Riebeek is ready to open but we will use this extra week to fine tune our processes and further refine our safety measures. We have acquired shoe mats for the sanitising of shoes and girls will walk on this mat in the mornings on arrival at school. There is a waiting period for the arrival of these mats but I will inform you when they do arrive. We have also appreciated feedback we have received and have adjusted our morning procedure so that the learners will first sanitise their hands and then collect the screening form and not visa versa.
In the end, no matter what measures we put in place, it is the attitude and behaviour of your daughter that will most contribute to success in our safety measures. If our girls know the correct and incorrect actions then things will run more smoothly. I appeal to you to please talk through with them what your expectations and what the school’s expectations are with regards to behaviour and rules at school. The learners will also receive induction and training on Covid-19 protocols to follow. It is essential that your daughter practices social distancing, wears a mask at all times and sanitises her hands on a regular basis. If a learner does not follow the rules, she will be endangering other learners and staff and she will be asked to go home.
The teachers of Riebeek will be under immense pressure during this time. They will continue supplying work for the learners of the grades not due to return yet. They will continue to supply some direction and work for the learners unable to return with their grade to school (This will not be to the same level as during lockdown but will give the learner support, guidance and whatever the teacher is able to supply.) They will also be monitoring behaviour on the school premises with morning, break and afternoon duties. They also have to stay very alert during lessons. This is a lot of pressure and I trust that the Riebeek Family will, as always, support them.
It is time for us to look at the handing out of hard copies of work for
- Work for learners in grades returning who are unable to return
- Work for learners in grades who are not yet scheduled to return
- Work issued during lockdown that learners were not able to access at all
The regulation rules are clear that no visitors are allowed at Riebeek (except suppliers and parents paying school fees) so supplying these hard copies has to be done in a meticulous way. It is essential that only parents who simply cannot access the work online and cannot print anything at all be the ones to collect the work as it is vital that visitors be very, very limited. These items will be handed out at specific times (and only those specific times) at the school gate.
Hard copies will be handed out in the following manner:
Friday 5 June – Parents of Grade 4 and 11 who absolutely need hard copies. The time for collection will be 8.30-9.30. The parents of Grade 11 learners must have with them a list of which subjects the learner does.
Monday 8 June - Parents of Grade 6 and 10 who absolutely need hard copies. The time for collection will be 8.30-9.30. The parents of Grade 10 learners must have with them a list of which subjects the learner does.
Tuesday 9 June - Parents of Grade 5 and 9 who absolutely need hard copies. The time for collection will be 8.30-9.30.
Wednesday 10 June - Parents of Grade 8 who absolutely need hard copies. The time for collection will be 8.30-9.30.
Friday 12 June - Grades 7 and 12 parents of the learners who are unable to return to school. The time for collection will be 2 – 2.30.
Our greatest concerns remain the emotional well-being and safety of our learners. We know that this is a frustrating, stressful time for many of them. But, this will pass. Our girls need to stay strong and hopeful. They cannot control the actions and decisions of others, but they can control their reactions. Choose to be positive, Riebeek Girls.
One thing that this situation has emphasised is that it is vital that we have all your relevant contacts. We have periodically needed to send out emails or an SMS. We urge you to contact the school with your contact details if there have been any changes or if you think it is possible that the school does not have the correct details.
President Cyril Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter wrote, “Today is the International Day for Protection of Children, which is commemorated around the world to draw attention to children’s rights and welfare. Fittingly, it is also the UN Global Day of Parents, honouring the commitment of parents and caregivers to the wellbeing of children. On this day I want to thank the millions of parents, grandparents and caregivers around South Africa who continue to play an important role in the formative years in the lives of our youngest citizens. The encouragement, support and protection children receive from their parents and caregivers is essential for their future happiness and success.”
It is our belief that Riebeek's Parents are awesome and certainly go the extra mile: Maybe you were the parent who made printers appear in the Top 10 Takealot online searches. aybe you were the creative-minded parent teaching percentages or the scientific-minded parent helping to describe the main character. Maybe you cheated and did a bit here and there (That was helping too). Maybe you could not help with school work but you took on more chores around the house. Maybe, with finances tight, you said you were not hungry so you could make sure your child could do her homework with a full tummy. Maybe you bought her more data with your last bit of savings. Maybe you could not give homework help, but you gave her extra hugs and love or you gave tough love and strict discipline. Maybe you worked late so she could use your device during the day. Maybe you were an essential worker, and could not be with her all the time, but were taking care of others for us all. Maybe you did not realise that you are a superhero!
What has become abundantly clear to us in the last few weeks is to not plan too far in advance as the situations remain fluid. Thus, where you have concerns about assessment dates and tasks, we urge you to remain patient as our priority must be safety and quality teaching before we process assessment. We will notify you when work is due or what arrangements are to be made regarding assessment.
I again wish to express my thanks to the School Governing Body for their immense involvement.
Kind Regards
Mrs K. Stear

 June 01, 2020
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