Principal's Message ~ 15th May

Dear families,

There’s a saying that a week is a long time in football – I think now that schools can be added to that category.  How exciting that our way forward has been announced.  You will find the dates and information regarding your child’s return later in this eNews.

My very sincere thanks to all families for your support during these difficult weeks.    

All the staff are so excited about being able to work face to face with students and are really looking forward to having everyone back and working together.  I’m certain too that parents will be really pleased that their children will once again be able to reconnect with their friends.  

I am sure you will agree with me that the staff have done an absolutely amazing job with the learning and teaching that has been provided for the students of St Mary’s.  Feedback from families has been so positive and there is an obvious sense of gratitude for the work, time and effort contributed by every member of staff in ensuring that the learning needs of all were being attended to.  Naturally, it was a bit of a bumpy road for us all (staff and families) at the beginning but it appears as though we certainly have nailed it now!

Staff are also really grateful for the support they have received from parents over these past 5 weeks.  Your willingness to engage positively with the teachers and your input and encouragement with your child’s learning has certainly made a difference to your child being able and confident to fully engage in their learning.  

And of course, the students!!!!!  They have shown resilience, maturity, determination and humour in adapting so well to a very different learning environment.  It has been terrific to hear the stories of students who have really ‘shone’ during lockdown.  It has provided an opportunity for a variety of skills and talents to be displayed, and I’m sure teachers will build on this when usual classes resume.  It will certainly be a fun reunion the first day back for each of the year levels with children sharing what learning at home was like for them.

We are aware, of course, that some students may be slightly anxious returning to school.  Rest assured all staff are conscious of this and it will almost like the beginning of the school year again for some children.  Naturally, if you have any concerns about your child’s return please send their classroom teacher an email outlining your thoughts.  It is really important for us to work together during this transition back to normal school life.

Just to confirm for all families are school will reopen as follows:

  • 25th May: Professional Learning Day for staff.  There will be no online or onsite learning on this day
  • 26th May:  Prep and Years 1 & 2 students return
  • 9th June:  Years 3 to 6 students return

During this reopening phase, the current arrangements remain in place meaning that students who can learn from home must learn from home.  Exceptions are permitted for students whose parents/carers are required to work away from home, and as such the child is not able to be supervised at home and on days when no other arrangements can be made.

Prior to your child’s return to school, I will be providing families with detailed information as regards to drop-off and pick-up times; access points to the school; staggered break times; equipment restrictions; and a range of protocols to ensure the safety of staff and students.  I am waiting on the updated Catholic Education Commission of Victoria School Operations Guide to be released to inform school practices.  This document provides the guidelines that schools will be expected to follow in managing their environment. 

Once a year level has returned, all students will be expected to attend school as normal. This means if you choose to keep your child/children home after their year level has returned to onsite schooling, we can no longer support their learning from home.

This does not apply to children who need to be absent for a serious health or medical reason. For those families, please contact us so we can make appropriate arrangements for your child’s learning.  This same approach is being taken by all Catholic and government schools in Victoria.  If your child is ill or is feeling unwell, they must not attend school. They must remain home and seek medical advice.

Your cooperation with, and adherence to, all expectations will be essential over the remainder of this term.  Hopefully by Term 3, daily life at school will take on a slightly more normal approach. 

Staff are currently in the process of developing student reports to provide feedback on learning for Semester 1.  Reports will be provided at the end of this term, however they will be different to the normal midyear report.  We will be adhering to the directives from Catholic Education Melbourne in regards to the content of these.  This means that there will be:

  • a description of the areas taught in Reading, Writing, Numeracy and Religious Education;
  • a succinct descriptive assessment of student learning achievement, based on the Achievement Standards in the Victorian Curriculum; and
  • a comment on how the student has adjusted to the remote and flexible learning environment

Now for some really exciting news.  Nancy Leone, Britt Densmore and Jane Kirkwood would like me to share their news with you that they are each expecting their first child.  I know that you will all join with me in wishing them all the best at this most amazing time for them.  Details about when they will be commencing their maternity leave and who will be replacing them replacement teachers will be provided during Term 3.  

In a case of classic timing, CatholicCare’s Family Week 2020 takes place next week, from today to Thursday 21 May.  The Education in Faith newsletter prepared by Matt Taylor gives families background to this organisation.  Follow this link to a pack which contains some worthwhile and fun activities for the whole family.  Hopefully, they may support shifting the focus from learning together to having fun together - not that learning isn’t fun!

I’m certainly looking forward to catching up with all families over the coming weeks, even though maintaining appropriate social distancing.  We can’t wait until our school community can once again come together in the welcoming and energetic way that it does. 


Kerin Thorneloe

Acting Principal