letter from the principal 19 june 2020

BY Mrs K. Stear

Dear Parents and Learners                                                                                            19 19 19 June 2020
I hope that this communication finds you well. I would like to thank you, parents, for all that you have done for your daughter/s since the closure of schools in terms of assisting them to stay up to date with their academics. This task has been challenging, and we do appreciate your immense efforts in this regard.
We remain concerned about the possibility of learners not making sufficient efforts at home to do the school work assigned.  A learner at home should be spending 6 to 7 hours a day on her school work, as a rough guide.  If the assigned work is completed, she should spend of that time revising or reading.
Absenteeism from schools by our Grade 7s and 12s is a concern.  We wholeheartedly support a decision to keep children at home if they are feeling ill.  Our concern, though, is with the high absenteeism on the days that a task is due.  It is vital that learners attend school if well.   We do not know what the future holds, what spikes there may be infection rates and whether schools may have to close in response to the pandemic. Therefore, every teaching day is extremely important.  I do respect though that some parents are nervous to send their children back to school.
The Department of Basic Education has determined that the Grade 6, 10 and 11 will return to school on 6 July 2020. This is a tentative date as it is dependent on the Covid-19 statistics at the time, as well as the Department having fulfilled its responsibility to ensure that all health and safety requirements have been met. Riebeek is currently planning for a 6 July return date.
On the first day back at school, the Grade 6,10 and 11 learners will receive their PPE, 4 masks and safety glasses (which are optional), plus paperwork on the protocol to follow to stop the spread of the disease. They will then be orientated by their teachers on this protocol.
Our goals when planning for the return of these grades were:
·       To keep our learners safe by complying to the Covis-19 protocol.
·       To ensure a simple, effective timetabling that maximizes contact time.
·       Allowing the Grade 12 learners to continue with as little disruption as possible to their current, temporary timetable and routines.
·       To adapt the school day to the new realities we face of logistically managing the sanitizing of venues and hands, monitoring all actions and ensuring social distancing.
·       To create a timetable where a class is split into two venues and the teacher has to teach one group while another teacher supervises the other half of the class, and then the teacher and supervising teaching swopping venues. 
Therefore, it is probable that the Grade 10 and 11 learners will return to school on a one week on, one week off basis. We will not have more than two senior school grades in the school building at the same time. Having the Grade 10 and Grade 11s at school at the same time with the Grade 12s would strain our manpower, and we would be unable to successfully manage social distancing in the grounds and classrooms.   
Teachers will have a week to teach important content and explain the harder concepts.  On the possible week off, learners will consolidate that work.  In classes where the group is in two venues, learners will have time to do some of this consolidation when it is not their slot with the teacher. 
The learners will be screened daily and their temperatures will taken. The classes will be split to not exceed the maximum allowed with the distance of 1.5 metres between them.   A register has to be filled in when a person goes to the bathroom.  In creating a new timetable, we have attempted to minimise the movement of the girls from class to class. The Grade 10 and 11s will use separate ablution facilities from the Grade 12s. Each Grade 10 and 11 class will be allocated a different section of the grounds for break time. There will only be one break and school may end later and end earlier to facilitate staggered arrivals and departures. Different exit points from the building will be used. Staff will be on duty to ensure social distancing. The teaching venues and bathrooms will be sanitised on a regular basis. The girls will sanitise their hands frequently and masks are to be worn at all times.
With regards to the return of the Grade 6s, they will follow a similar schedule to the Grade 7s. The two classes will be split into three so that the desks can be apart to adhere to the need for social distancing. They will be screened daily and their temperatures taken. When the learners leave the school the teachers will lead the girls out of a separate exit gate to the other grades. The Grade 6s will spend break on the hockey field adjacent, but separate, to the Grade 7s. Staff members will be on duty. The girls will remain in the same classroom for the entire day and the teachers will be moving from classroom to classroom. Each classroom is equipped with sanitiser and the girls will be required to sanitise their hands frequently. Girls may not move around in the classroom. They are to stay in their desks. They will visit the bathroom one at a time, after the bathroom register has been filled in. A new timetable has been created to fit the adjusted times and procedures of the school day.
We will continue to provide teaching material for all of our learners in grades that have not returned to school yet. Work packs, containing notes, worksheets and other learning material, will be need to be fetched on allocated days and times. The compulsory collection of July’s work  from  8.30 –9.30 is only on these dates:                                                    
 Wednesday 24 June Grade 4 and 8                 Thursday 25 June: Grade 5 and 9
Work for Grade 4, 5, 8 and 9 will be provided in hard copy format and not all will be on the d6, for July’s work. It is VITAL that work be collected by 1 family member. Parents can arrange with another parent or with a trusted adult to collect on their behalf.  Masks are compulsory. Please bring your own pen.  Please enter by walking through the main gate and exit via the pedestrian gate.  This is a compulsory collection.  Please note the dates and times.  Visitors are not permitted at the school so alternative collection times will not be viable.  Use of the D6 and WhatsApp groups will continue to some extent but not as much as before the handing out of these hard copies. Is some subjects and grades, textbooks are being handed out so collection is absolutely necessary.
The aftercare will also open on the 6th July for Grades 6, 10,11 and 12. The laundry is being converted into a space for eating and studying. Each girl will have a cubicle to do her homework and to eat lunch. Space markers will be put down on the floor to ensure social distancing and a staff member will be present at all times. On arrival at the hostel, the girl’s hands will be sanitised as they enter the building. Masks are to be kept on. Day boarders will not be allowed upstairs. A route has been created for the girls to fetch their meals on a tray and return to their cubicle so there is no bumping into each other and social distancing is maintained. After lunch they will have a study period until 15:00 in their cubicle, followed by tea after which they may sit on a sofa, with social distancing, and read until their parents arrive to collect them. Mrs Swanepoel will call the day boarder when her parents arrive and she will sign out as normal but with her own pen.  A separate letter to detail the arrangements for the return of the boarders to the hostel will be sent to the hostel parents next week.
I wish to appeal to our parents and girls to not stigmatise those who are or may be infected with Covid-19.  Spreading of rumours and speculation of who may or may not have Covid-19 is discriminatory and adds extra stress to a family at a very difficult time.  Let us be kind…always. 
Once again we had a successful week here at Riebeek with teaching and learning happening in the Grade 7 and 12 classrooms. Once again, I have praise only for the way the girls are conducting themselves. We are blessed with staff who have been totally supportive and have gone the extra mile to ensure everyone’s safety.
Once again, stay safe.
Kind Regards
Mrs K Stear

 June 19, 2020
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