Dear parents and carers,
Mental Health and Wellbeing
By any measure, this is a highly stressful and challenging time for everyone. Freedoms and activities that weeks ago we enjoyed without a second thought have been curtailed, we have become isolated from friends and extended family, and fear and anxiety about the virus and the associated health and economic calamities looms large over us all.
At this time, it is most important for families to focus first and foremost of children’s mental health and wellbeing. Please understand that the school is understanding and flexible about how much work students can complete on a given day. Even the Education Minister has reassured school communities that everyone just needs to do the best they can under the trying circumstances: Focus on maths and literacy, and don’t beat yourself up, says minister
Your family may find these links useful if you or your children are experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health and wellbeing challenges at this time:
Learning From Home
Thank you for your strong support implementing our Learning From Home Plans ‘at the coal face’ for the past two weeks. With 95% of our students learning from home, this has been the biggest, most fundamental change to Australian education in decades, and it has happened virtually overnight.
I cannot overstate the admiration and pride I have for our teachers and support staff for the way they have stepped up to this challenge. The overwhelmingly positive and supportive feedback the school has received from parents about the work of our staff members affirms this sentiment.
Thank you to all the parents who have provided feedback from the ‘home front’ suggesting how our programs could be refined or improved. Our leaders and teachers are busy evaluating our first attempts at remote teaching and learning, considering feedback from students and parents, and using this to inform our planning for Term 2. Some key principles we are working with are: ‘lighten the load’, ‘set priority levels for activities’ and ‘focus on the basics’.
Please understand that our teachers are currently managing a huge volume of written communication from students and parents. At times they are finding it overwhelming. Teachers will get back to you as soon as they can, and they may need to redirect your inquiry to another staff member. Please be patient and understanding of delays that may occur.
Planning Days next Wednesday and Thursday
To enable us to effectively plan for Term 2, we will set aside Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th April as co-operative planning and professional learning days for our class teachers, learning support teachers and special programs teachers.
The school is still open and students are welcome to attend on these days. Casual teachers will teach the students who attend school on site.
For students learning from home, teachers will set suggested activities for Days 11 and 12 of LFHPs (Thursday and Friday), but we request that families do not post completed work or messages on Seesaw or Classroom on these days. Teachers will not approve work, respond to messages or provide feedback on Seesaw or Classroom on these days.
Video Conferences (VCs)
The advent of COVID-19 has instigated a rapid transition to an online education delivery model in Australian schools. At Stanmore PS, we recognise the need to trial and implement tools that provide for personal interaction between teachers and students and enable the teaching of new concepts and skills. Zoom has emerged as our school’s preferred platform, and has recently been endorsed by the NSW Department of Education.
Currently, teachers are trialling video conferencies (VCs) with students. Some teachers have already held VCs with students, while other teachers are developing their skills and knowledge in the platform prior to trialling VCs with students in the coming days.
In this trial period, teachers are using video conferences to maintain personal connections between teachers and students, monitor student wellbeing, and clarify lessons and activities in the Learning From Home Plan. In future, VCs may provide a platform for teaching of new concepts and assessment strategies. Further staff training and development and policy development to ensure consistent practice is required before this is rolled out across the school.
We have developed Video Conferencing Guidelines for Parents and Students. Please take the time to read this document, as we will be utilising this platform increasingly in future.
The Department of Education has launched a website with information pertaining to COVID-19:
In case you missed it, here’s my message to the school community for this week:
Have a lovely weekend. Until next time – stay safe, breathe deeply, and do whatever you need to do to get through each day.