Once again I would like to thank our school community for your support, patience and resilience in such a rapidly-evolving environment regarding COVID-19. Because of the frequency of the advice we are receiving from the Department of Education and Training and the Health Department, I would strongly encourage all families to regularly check Compass and/or our College Facebook page to ensure you have the latest information pertaining to Merbein P-10 College.
At present Victorian schools will remain open, in line with the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Victoria’s Chief Health Officer. The decision for schools to remain open is based on the best medical and health advice.
Whist we respect the choice of individual families to keep their children home, despite this advice, I need families to understand that it is not possible for staff to be providing individual learning tasks for all of those students who elect not to attend school, despite the fact that they have not been instructed to self- isolate. There are cases where students are at significantly higher risk, whereby self-isolation is recommended. In these situations staff will arrange for learning tasks to be electronically distributed to families.
Planning for Possible School Closure
Whilst schools currently remain open, we do face the possibility of closures at some point in time. Yesterday, at Merbein P-10 College several important steps were taken to prepare to continue teaching and learning in the event of a school closure.
- All primary and secondary teachers met to plan an initial two weeks’ worth of tasks and resources to be distributed to students in the event of a school closure
- Secondary students were surveyed about their access to computers and other devices and their level of internet access
- Secondary teachers used this data to plan how best to deliver resources and tasks to all students
Next week is the last week of Term 1, and we will be asking students to take several steps to prepare for a possible school closure following the holidays:
- Emptying lockers and taking all textbooks, exercise books, stationery and equipment home
- Ensuring that login information for all relevant websites is up-to-date and working.
Students will be provided with time to complete these steps. This process may vary slightly from Primary to Secondary areas.
Parents and carers can support students by:
- Providing students with bags to enable them to carry all their resources
- If possible, arranging to collect students from school on the day they are taking home their resources
In the coming week we will distribute further information and guidance for students and parents in regards to preparing for possible school closure.
Again, we thank you for your ongoing support of our students and staff at a time that is quite challenging for us all.
Resources for Talking with Children about COVID-19
At school, we are supporting students to continue their learning by providing clear, factual information to students about COVID-19. As teachers and support staff we are also trying to model to students that we are taking the current situation seriously but are remaining calm and practical in response.
At home, there is much that parents, carers and other adults can do to help children and teenagers understand the facts about the virus, manage their fears and anxieties and to channel those feelings into a positive, productive response.
These resources have been developed to help parents, carers and other adults when talking to children and teenagers about COVID-19. We hope that some or all of them may be useful to you.
- UNICEF Australia - How to talk to your children about coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.unicef.org.au/blog/news-and-insights/march-2020/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-coronavirus
- Harvard Medical School - How to talk to teens about the new coronavirus: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-talk-to-teens-about-the-new-coronavirus-2020031419192
- United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) - Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
- The New York Times - Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/family/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html
- World Health Organisation (WHO) - Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
- Psychology Today - How to Explain a Global Health Crisis to Children with Autism: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/neuroscience-in-translation/202003/how-explain-global-health-crisis-children-autism
- The University of Miami – Social narrative about Coronavirus (for students with ASD): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkZ23tDzN4c&feature=youtu.be