letter from the principal - 21 august

BY Mrs K. Stear

                                                                                                                                                21 August 2020
Dear Parents and Learners
Schooling has been going full steam ahead since the one week break for our senior school staff and Grade 12s and the two week break for our junior school staff and Grade 7s.  In addition, hard copy collections, submissions of SBA tasks and online messaging has ensured that our girls have been given constructive work to do.  We also welcomed back our Grade 5s who reported being glad to be back!
On 24 August we welcome back Grade 4, 6, 8 and 10.  It will be the first time back for our Grade 4s and 8s, and we trust that the learners and parents have worked through the instruction note on how the school operates and what the learners need to know to have a successful time back.  Grade 4 and 6 learners enter through the pedestrian gate by 7.40; and the Grade 8 learners report at 7.40 while the Grade 10 learners at 7.50 via the main gate.  Grade 4 and 6 leave at 1pm, Grade 10s at 1.15 and Grade 8s at 1.30. 
Our Grade 7s have two weeks at home to consolidate the work covered with them in class and to continue with new work given.  The Grade 12s embark on a study break to prepare for the Matric Trials after an enjoyable Principal’s Party today to celebrate the milestone moment of completing the syllabus. On the school grounds, staff were dressed up and we saw Catwoman, Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, a cheerleader, essential workers, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz and other colourful characters! We commend the Grade 7s and 12s on their excellent behaviour at school.  Among all the negatives of Covid-19, there have been silver linings and one of those is that the teachers and learners have bonded immensely over the last few weeks of being at times the sole focus of the teacher’s attention and we will look back fondly at the shared journey we had of fear and unfamiliarity with this strange schooling environment in those in early days, and the bonding and appreciation that ensued.  We are so touched by the gratitude and co-operation these young ladies have demonstrated.
One of the negatives of Covid-19 was that the matrics did not write a June examination and this means they are out of practice in exam techniques.  This can be remedied if matric learners spend some time practicing writing examinations with self-discipline at home.  All Grade 12s have received past papers for all their subjects.  Matrics never get 3 weeks to prepare for trials so this truly a gift and we ask earnestly that parents and Grade 12s ensure that meaningful work takes place in these three weeks.  This is not a time for relaxation or socialising.  Our matrics will need to be extra vigilant about shielding.  They should be at home studying and not putting themselves at risk of being exposed to or contracting Covid-19 during this time of the trial examinations.
In terms of our planning, I wish to provide you with the following planning and ask that you provisionally diarise these dates.  The dates can also be accessed on the d6 under the Calendar Tab. 
24-28 August: Grade 4, 6, 8, 10 at school
31 August:  4 September: Grade 4, 6, 8, 11 at school
7 – 11 September: Grade 5, 7, 9 at school and some Grade 12 pre-trial sessions, including the CAT Trial Examination.
14-18 September: Grade 4, 6, 9 at school. Matric Trial Examinations.
21- 25 September: Grade 5, 7, 8 and 10 at school. Matric Trial Examinations. No school on 24 and 25 September (Heritage Day public holiday and school holiday)
28 September – 2 October: Grade 4, 6, 8, 10. Matric Trial Examinations.
5-9 October: Grade 5, 7, 9, 11 at school. Matric Trial Examinations end on 7 October and matrics are at home on 8 and 9 October.
12-16 October: Grade 4,6,10,12 at school. It is essential that Grade 12s attend school for Trials Examination feedback and remedial instruction. We anticipate that 16 October may be the final day of school lessons for 2020 for Grade 10 as they prepare for their final examinations which we expect to begin in the first week of November. Grade 4 and 6 will have their last day of term 3 on 16 October.  
19-23 October:  Grade 5, 7, 11, 12: It is essential that Grade 12s attend school for Trials Examination feedback and remedial instruction. We anticipate that 22 October may be the final day of school lessons for 2020 for Grade 11 as they prepare for their final examinations which we expect to begin in the first week of November. Grade 5 and 7 will have their last day of term 3 on 22 October. There will be no school on Friday 23 October for any other grades except Grade 12 who will mark their last day of formal schooling in a special Valedictory ceremony with only staff and Grade 12s present. Monday 19 October is the final Grade 12 Life Orientation examination and Wednesday 21 October is the CAT P1 Practical final exam.
23 October: End of Term 3
2 November: Start of Term 4.
2 – 6 November: Possible start of Grade 10-11 examinations and start of final Grade 12 examinations on 5 November.
More details on which grades will attend school in term 4 will be made available at a later stage.
We do not anticipate further hard copy collections for all learners in a grade, but will continue with Friday collections from 2 to 4 from the guard by prior arrangement with the grade head for learners who are home-schooling. One of the prerequisites for home-schooling is that parents collect on Fridays and submit SBA tasks at the same time, and that Instruction Note 20 – Exemption from School Attendance is submitted in advance of the grade returning to school.  Learners shielding at home may be required to attend an isolated session away from others to complete tests or practical components.  More details on this will be made available at a later stage. 
Please note that there is a misguided assumption among Grade 7 to 9 learners that they can drop some subjects. This is incorrect.  This option was available to the school, but we declined as dropping subjects, which was the sole decision of the principal and not the learners, could have had a negative impact on a learner being progressed or retained in a grade.
Note that all learners must have a full Schools Based Assessment (SBA) Portfolio of completed and submitted tasks in order to be considered for progression or promotion to the next grade. 
Please be patient with us as we navigate our way through these unusual times.  Please communicate with us your challenges, concerns and queries so that we can work constructively and positively with you.  Please know how much we value the support we have received from our parents and learners.
Grade 9 parents, please access the letter on the d6 regarding subject choice testing by Miss Loock and a subject choice booklet to assist you with making subject choices. These notes will be included in the orientation of 7 September, when the Grade 9s first return to school. 
I wish to make it very clear that regardless of the Lockdown Level and regardless of other circumstances, including the maturity levels of the new grades returning to school and possible negative attitudes related to SBA tasks due, we will not ease our protocols nor drop our expectations.  The staff have become experts on what procedures need to be followed and we urge parents to have a strict conversation with their daughters about respecting every protocol and rule put in place to ensure the safety of all.  A comprehensive note for Grade 8 and 9 has been sent via email and can be accessed on the d6.  It will also be included in the orientation packs. 
Please continue to consult the d6 regularly for important updates and information. 
Kind Regards
Mrs K. Stear

 August 21, 2020
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