letter from the principal 24 july 2020

BY Mrs K. Stear

24 July 2020
Dear Parents and Learners
We continue to find that parents and learners display frustration with teachers or the school when, in fact, the problem is that they have not read the letters sent out weekly.  Please take the time to carefully read the information sent out. 
I am once again making an urgent appeal for parents and transport drivers to please not U-turn in front of the school, but to rather use the traffic circle at the top of North Street.  U-turning places our learners and other vehicles in danger. I say a big thank you to the parents who do use the traffic circle. Please also do not stop your vehicle in the school driveway or in front of the driveways across the street. Parents and learners, please pass this vital instruction on to transport drivers.
The number of Riebeek learners who have tested positive for the virus remains at six and no staff have yet tested positive for the virus. We ask parents to please keep their daughter/s at home if they themselves suspect they may be showing symptoms of the virus and therefore will be going to be tested. We prefer to be over cautious rather than reckless when it comes to the health and safety of the Riebeek family.
I again ask our learners to please complete their school work as well as they are able to, especially the SBA (school based assessment) tasks and tests because these results may well become the deciding factor as to who gets promoted to the next grade in 2021. This pandemic has created unprecedented times for schools and the situation changes daily and we, at the school, must try to ready ourselves for all eventualities.
The teachers are experiencing a blurring of the professional boundaries in terms of the use of their personal cell phone numbers by learners.  Teachers should not be contacted to discuss a matter that can be queried via the office.  Teachers should not receive messages late at night or over weekends.  Messages should be directly related to the subject the teacher is responsible for.  Learners may contact the grade head if they need to self-isolate to request the work handed out on a Friday by prior arrangement. The telephone numbers were made available during lockdown level 5 as the teachers were not at school. When the teachers are at school, the correct contact procedure is to phone the school with queries and not to contact the teacher directly if it can be avoided.  Learners, you are invading the private lives of the teachers and this is not acceptable. Only contact a teacher over subject related queries and make sure the timing is appropriate. Make sure you have read carefully any instructions provided before asking a question that can be answered by reading the work.
Grade 10 parents received two circulars this week and they appear on the d6. One relates to the Term 1 Grade 10 outing and the other is about subject changes.
Grade 9 learners and parents are encouraged to consider subject and career counselling with a psychologist in this period.  Miss Nerine Loock is available for consultations.  Miss Nerine Loock offers comprehensive testing and this can be arranged directly with her by contacting her on 0845156878.
We receive numerous requests from parents for online lessons during school time and we need to advice parents and learners that our school simply is not running as it used to.  Our teachers are on duty from 7am to screen the learners arriving, then they are on duty in corridors, play grounds, bathrooms and venues, managing split classes and teaching with a different timetable to the one normally followed.  It is thus not possible to consider this.  We conducted a survey on this and it revealed that our parents and learners have very limited data if at all.  Online lessons are incredibly high in data costs and are dependent on a very strong signal.  We also looked into various platforms for online lessons.  Zoom was attempted and less than 1/5 of the learners were able to join the sessions on average. We trained in Microsoft Teams and again found that this method would not be suitable as each learner would need Microsoft Office 365 and a valid email.  Our learners would find it difficult to access this as many do not have emails, data nor access to Microsoft. We attempted recording lessons to load onto YouTube and 5 of 60 learners viewed it.  The challenge with recording live lessons are many in terms of audio, lightning, manpower for the technical aspects. We are doing the best we can and we assure the parents and learners that we are ensuring that the syllabus is being followed and that we are setting work that is manageable and constructive. 
The President addressed the nation last night, 23 July. We do not have additional information other than what he said in his speech.  Once we get clarity on the dates and implications, we will inform you.  At this stage, though, the planning is as follows:
27 to  31 July
GRADES TO ATTEND SCHOOL: None – all schools closed
GRADES TO WORK AT HOME: None – all schools closed, no homework except for grade 7
3 to 7 August
GRADES TO WORK AT HOME: All grades except Grade  12
11-14 August
17 – 21 August
GRADES TO WORK AT HOME: Grade 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11
24 – 28 August
GRADES TO ATTEND SCHOOL: Grade 9, 10, 6, 5 possibly
GRADES TO WORK AT HOME: Grade 4, 7, 8, 11, 12 possibly
31 August – 4 September
GRADES TO ATTEND SCHOOL: Grade 4, 5 and 2 Senior Grades, subject to finalization of matric trial examination timetable
GRADES TO WORK AT HOME: Grade 6, 7 and 3 Senior Grades, subject to finalization of matric trial examination timetable
School NO LONGER closes for a short break on 7 August UNTIL 12 August and Monday 10 August is a public holiday.
There will be compulsory hard copy collection of homework and handing in of SBA tasks on the following dates from 8.30 to 9.30.  1 member of each family or 1 appointed responsible adult is to collect by entering the main gate, walking to the end of the parking lot and exiting via the pedestrian gate.  In some cases, SBA tasks will be handed out and it is critical that these be collected. It is vital that outstanding work that was not handed in by absent learners be submitted as per the dates below. Note that the times and dates must be adhered to as we do not have the manpower to hand out on different dates and times for those unable to make this time and date.
Hard Copy Collection and SBA Tasks Handing in from 8.30-9.30:
6 August – Grade 11
7 August – Grade 8 and 10
14 August – Grade 5 and 6
17 August – Grade 4 and 9
GRADE HEADS will provide a summary of what work is to be handed in on these dates and  SUBJECT  TEACHERS will give information on what tasks are due on this date.
I pray that you may all stay safe and, where possible, at home in these very troubled times.
Kind Regards
Mrs K Stear

 July 24, 2020
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