Letter from the principal of 16 july

BY Mrs K Stear

Dear Parents and Learners                                                                                            16/07/2020
As my weekly and periodic letters to you are the only means of communication with the school community including parents and learners, I wish to appeal to you all to read the letters carefully as important information is contained in them.
I wish to acknowledge our teachers and support staff who are the education frontline workers. They get up every morning, often filled with anxiety, but still show up for work. They are faced with inadequate support from authorities, but still they are working. Thank you all for your resolve. Staff have faced numerous unclear and often misguided instructions and regulations from authorities, only to have these instructions and regulations changed the next week. This lack of leadership and direction causes anxiety and stress and a far from ideal working environment.  In spite of this, our team has remained positive and determined to make the academic year meaningful. I ask that you please support our staff by ensuring work is being done at home, you keep up to date with information we provide, that Schools Based Assessment is handed in on due dates and that our protocols are followed.
To date, Riebeek has had six reported cases of learners who have tested positive for the virus and have self-isolated. We have traced the close contacts of these girls who have then self-quarantined for 14 days.  In some cases, the learner had not been at school for more than 14 days therefore there was no requirement for the school to do a deep sanitization or close as a result of this case.  No staff have yet tested positive for the virus. I ask parents and learners to please not conceal their COVID-19 status, but to rather inform the school when they display symptoms, or have gone for testing and, especially, when they have tested positive for the virus. This is dealt with confidentially but has great value. A small group of people care only about their own health, and safety; but when it comes to others, they act recklessly. The fear of stigmatization is no reason to keep quiet about being infected. If ever we needed to display the spirit of Ubuntu, it is now. Silence about one’s COVID-19 status could become lethal to someone else.
We are all painfully aware that the pandemic situation in South Africa is worsening daily, as was predicted by scientists. When we will reach the pinnacle of infections remains uncertain, but it is speculated that it will be any time from the beginning of August to late September. The Grade Ten learners are due to return to school on Monday 20th July. However, at the moment, there are loud calls from concerned parents and the unions, SADTU and NAPTOSA, for the closing of schools until after South Africa has reached its peak of COVID-19 infections. The reasons for this call include:
·        the serious psychological effect that the exponential number of infections is having on teachers, education support personnel and learners,
·       the changing science which now supports the possibility that there could be an airborne spread of the virus and an indication that the quarantine period could be shorter than initially established
·        the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice that schools should not remain open when the expected peak of the pandemic in a country is at hand.
This creates uncertainty in education circles. At the time of writing this letter, we anticipate that we will be welcoming the Grade Ten learners back to school at 7:55 on Monday morning, 20 July, at the Centenary Gates, which are the main gates. The Grade Eleven learners will not attend school for the next two weeks. (Monday 20 July to Friday 24 July and Monday 27 July to Friday 31 July). They will be working at home for these two weeks and must follow a routine of regular working, preferably following the school timetable at home. The Grade Elevens will return to school on Monday 3 August. The Grade Twelves will not attend school for the week Monday 3 August until Friday 7 August as they will have a week of Study Break. 
20 to 24 July
12, 10, 7, 6
4, 5, 8, 9, 11
27 to  31 July
12, 10, 7, 6
4, 5, 8, 9, 11
3 to 7 August
 11,10, 7, 6
4, 5, 8, 9, 12
School closes for a short break on 7 August and reopens on 12 August.
We ask parents to please ensure your child arrives and departs from school promptly as the teachers have to ensure that there is no mingling of grades as it makes the tracing of close contacts far more complicated should a learner test positive for COVID-19. Please note the correct times:
Main gate
Main gate
Pedestrian gate
Pedestrian gate
Learners shielding at home or self-isolating must inform the grade head so that work packs can be prepared for them. These work packs can be collected from the guard on a Friday afternoon from 14:00 to 16:00. Learners at home still need to hand in work by the due dates or on the Friday closest to a due date.  We cannot keep work for learners unless official notification of self-isolating is provided to us indicating clearly which Fridays the work will be collected and which date is the expected return date of the learner.  This must be formally communicated to the grade head in writing. 
The Grade 4, 5 8, 9 learners have all received, or will receive, packs of work this week which will keep them busy for the remainder of the term. The remainder of the grades are back at school. The number of parents collecting work declined fairly dramatically from the previous collections when we added handing in dates to the collection dates schedule.  I appeal to parents to support us in all our efforts to ensure learners have work and that work is submitted. It is essential for us to have marks to assess the learner’s suitability to be promoted to the next grade for 2021.
All the information supplied in this letter is subject to change at any time that the Minister of Education and the Provincial Department of Education make new regulations and announcements. Should this happen, I will keep you informed.
I am 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 at the top and bottom of North Street. 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 SGB and I have decided that, unfortunately, the Clothing Shop will be closed as from the 01 August until January 2021. The hostel has also been closed and will also not reopen until January 2021.
In the event of a learner staying at home for a prolonged period, it is vital that Instruction Note 20 be filled in and submitted to the school to formalize this.  Grade Ten parents should see to this requirement as a matter of urgency and parents of learners in grades who have not returned should fill in this form the week before the grade is due to return so as to allow us to make adequate arrangements for your daughter shielding at home or self-isolating.
Remember that communication is key and we need our parents to keep us informed.
I pray that you may all stay safe and, where possible, at home in these very troubled times.
Kind Regards
Mrs K Stear

 July 16, 2020
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