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Letter from the principal 8 may 2020

BY Mrs K. Stear

                                                                                             8 May 2020
Dear Parents and Learners
Today would have been Riebeek’s Founder’s Day. Sadly, there are no celebrations this year but we have gone online with some celebratory videos and posts. We promise to make the 2021 Founder’s Day a very special, bumper celebration. This is the first time since the inception of Founder’s Day celebrations in 1988 that we have not been able to celebrate it. 
Even in this difficult times, we are still remaining true to the mission statement of Riebeek College: “to prepare our learners to meet the challenges of a changing world by providing relevant education of a high standard and instilling sound values in a stimulating and happy environment.”
On Thursday 30th April, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga announced at a press conference the following dates for the opening of the Education Sector:
4th May – The return to work of certain Department of Education (DoE) officials
11th May – All principals and SMT members and non-teaching staff.
18th May – All educators return to work.
1st June – Grade 7 and 12 learners return to school if all safety and other requirements have been met.
Dates for other grades were not mentioned.
 
However, I was informed yesterday that the National Treasury withdrew their Instruction Note 3 regarding the delivery of PPE’s to the Eastern Cape. What this means is that the PPE orders that were placed with a supplier will no longer be delivered. This effectively means that the Procurement Sector of the DoE Eastern Cape, will have to start from scratch with the entire process of tenders which has put them back by at least three weeks. It is envisaged that the first orders of PPE’s to be delivered to schools will only take place on 29th May and will not be next week as per previous instructions. The Unions are determined, and very rightly so, that educators and learners will not return to school until the non-negotiables have been delivered, this includes sanitisation of the school, delivery of all PPE’s and sanitisation packs.
 
The Eastern Cape Department of Education District Director of Nelson Mandela Bay sent out a circular today that indicated that schools and offices are not ready to open and that the return of staff is postponed until further notice.  
 
A virtual meeting between all education stakeholders will take place on Saturday 9 May 2020. We will then receive an update on the opening dates of schools and amendments to EC DoE Corona Instruction Note 13 of 2020. So, once again, we are in the dark.
This has been a week of consolidation and catch up for our learners and I sincerely hope that this is what our girls have been doing. The teachers have been loading summaries of all work that they have issued to the girls thus far. This will help both learners and parents to ensure that they have not missed anything. Girls, I admire the way you have adapted to distance learning and I acknowledge that it is difficult and not an ideal situation. Great perseverance is needed from you and your teachers. I want to thank the teachers once again for the efforts they have made to keep education moving forward. I also want our girls to remember that they may not be able to control the situations playing out world-wide, but they can choose their reactions and choices.  Take control of your education, girls!  Choose to be positive and you will have positive outcomes. Choose to be negative and you will find yourself complaining, feeling over-burdened and will not reach your full potential.  I remind you all that Nerine Loock (BA Hons (Biokinetics; MA Counselling Psychology) is available at nerinewp@gmail.com should you require assistance with your daughter’s emotional and psychological state. 
We put out a lockdown survey this past week to ascertain what the barriers to distance learning were at Riebeek. We received 665 responses to date and we are grateful to our parents for their feedback. Thus far we have established that 48.1% of our learners have Wi-Fi internet access at home, 86.8% of our learners have access to mobile data at home, with 14,3% having very, very limited data or no data and 37.3% having more than 5GB of data per month. As to which platforms our learners / parents would find useful for receiving or monitoring the homework, the d6 communicator came out top with 55.5%, followed by WhatsApp groups 43.5% and emails to parents 41.3%. WhatsApp groups for parents 33,5% and, lastly, emails to learners scored the lowest at 5.1%. No system will be perfect and we are relieved that there is trust and co-operation with the systems we have been using. We note that 91% of the learners have been able to access the work so far and 62,6% of the learners are not able to print.
 
In terms of data usage, we wish to encourage you to make use of zero-rated websites, particularly ones where explanatory videos are presented.  Teachers have been sharing videos, and trying their utmost to select from zero-rated sites wherever possible.  We recommend https://learn.mindset.africa/ (particularly for the FET phase) and https://www.worksheetcloud.com/live/school-edition/ (particularly for the junior school learners).  Our website has also been zero-rated and we applied for the d6 school communicator to be zero-rated. Note that the d6 is a low data usage app and you will be pleasantly surprised how very little data is used in retrieving your homework from the app. 
 
Thank you to parents who have kindly donated towards the costs of the masks.  We are asking for a donation for the masks if parents feel they are able to afford to do so. We will leave the amount up to your own discretion. We have ordered 4 masks for each learner. Donations can be made to:  Bank – FNB  Acc Name- Riebeek College GHS       Acc Number – 53971284352   Branch code – 210316    Reference – learner’s surname, mask donation.  School fees can also be paid into this account with the reference being your daughter’s name and surname. 
 
I encourage you all to keep a daily routine of home work and exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever and your mental health is important. Try to not get into the habit of waking up later and later each morning, girls, as you are losing huge chunks of the school day in the process. Take time off on the weekends to relax and connect with your family. This has been a long 6 weeks!
 
Ora et labora will always stand the test. Stay well, Riebeek College.
 
Best Wishes
 
Mrs Kieran Stear
PRINCIPAL

 May 08, 2020
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