Tag Archives: COVID19

Masks at School

For two weeks now, masks no longer need to be worn outside, unless social distancing cannot be maintained. It is so nice to be able to walk outside in the fresh air without one. Summer is approaching and we love to spend time at the beach, so no masks outside is a welcome relief.

As of Monday, masks in Victoria, Australia are no longer mandatory inside or outside where social distancing can be maintained. Masks must still be carried at all times. However, when on public transport and in shopping centres, supermarkets and large stores like Bunnings masks must be worn.

At school, students over the age of 12 years must still wear masks. Unless a teacher is actually teaching, masks must be worn.

Last week, I took an ‘extra class’. It was a grade 6 class. As they were primary school students and dont wear masks, I could actually see faces once again. It was such a pleasant change and almost a culture shock. to see full facial expressions on those dear faces. We have become so used to using our eyes to show how we feel.

A roadmap back to school

In regional Victoria, our COVID-19 statistics have improved greatly. As of today, October 4th, we have one new active case and a total of 3 active cases compared with Melbourne which has 12 new cases today. In order to return to school, regional Victoria had to enter Step three of the steps back to COVID normal.

Tomorrow, we commence term 4 after a 2 week Spring break. All primary school children in regional Victoria will return to school after participating in remote learning over the last 6 months. However, only VCE and VCAL (year 12 students) can return to secondary schools. On Wednesday, VCE students will complete the GAT- the General Achievement Test which should have been sat back in early June. As we are a prep to year 12 school, primary students cannot return to school until Thursday 8th June, in order to ensure that year 12 students are not prevented from sitting the GAT. VCE formal exams will commence 5 weeks into Term 4. These have been delayed due to the impact of remote learning on their studies.

All secondary students from years 7 to 12 will return for face to face classes on Monday 12th October. However, in Melbourne, VCE and VCAL students will follow the same [pattern, whilst foundation to year 2 and years 10-12 students will return to school from October 12th. Years 3 to 9 will continue with remote learning in Melbourne.

It will be interesting to see how students react upon return to school and how we, as teachers cope. Temperature checks will take place for each staff member and student and all students above the age of 12 will need to wear masks. The rules for masks have now changed. No longer are face shields, scarves and bandanas able to be worn. Masks must be at least 2 layered and must cover the mouth and nose. Face shields can be worn, but masks must be worn underneath.

We are the only state in Australia required to wear face masks and as it isnt part of culture, many people are finding this a difficult request, especially in the country areas where COVID numbers are non-existent or extremely low. Now that warmer weather is on its way, people are wondering how they will cope in our extreme heat.

Updated school routine for COVID19

Schools in Victoria are back to remote learning. Regional areas are back into their fifth week for the second round of remote learning and Melbourne schools are into their eighth week. Fortunately, our COVID19 cases are starting to decline from the high of 700 reported a day several weeks ago and now down to 70 new cases today. Our deaths were also down today so there is hope that we may come out of our lockdown – regional Victorians only have four reasons to leave home – essential shopping, care, education/work and medical reasons. Melbourne citizens though are really locked down. Only one person from a household can go shopping to supermarkets etc, there is a curfew from 8pm to 6am, they can only exercise for one hour per day and cannot travel further than 5kms from home. They must work from home unless special permits are granted. Cafes and restaurants are open for take aways only. The Australian army has now been called in to help patrol the curfew and ensure that restrictions are adhered to.

We are the only state with severe restrictions as the other Australian states have contained the virus successfully and their numbers are nil or low. All states have closed their borders to Victorians and we are currently looked down upon by our fellow Australians. It is sad, as Melbourne has regularly won the title of the World’s Most Liveable City but it certainly is not now.

Students of essential workers and vulnerable students may attend school but must fill in a weekly form to gain permission from the Principal. A skeleton staff remains at school to care for these students. Last week we were granted special permission to bring our VCE students back to school to complete SACs (assessment tasks) and to conduct practical science experiments. I went back to school each day for the week and spent time with my small VCE classes and supervised their SACs. However, there have been changes to our routines. All people who come to school must now be temperature checked and must wear a mask. Students and staff line up to have their temperature checked. This will take a considerable amount of time when we all return.

Here is the altered routine:-

  • Students sanitise hands before catching the bus (the essential workers children and those from vulnerable families)
  • All students from 12 years up wear masks
  • The bus driver has three clear seats between him and passengers.
  • Students sanitise their hands when getting off the bus.
  • They enter the school office and get their temperatures checked. These are recorded by office staff.
  • Only staff and students are allowed on school grounds. Any other people on the grounds must have express permission.
  • Our receptionist and librarian now have protective plastic guards between them and people.
  • Students are socially distanced where possible. It is compulsory for staff to socially distance.
  • Teachers do not have to wear masks in the classroom when teaching but they must be worn at all other times. The exception being when eating and drinking

I laughed when the students told me that they take as long as they can to eat so they dont have to wear their masks. Today is the first day of spring, so we are looking forward to warmer days and increased outdoor living, where it is thought that the virus cannot be so infectious.

On Sunday, our premier will announce our roadmap out of our current lockdowns. It will be gradual easements and there will be two roadmaps – one for Melbourne and one for regional areas (where the virus is not so prevalent).

If you were stranded in the forest, what 3 things would you bring?

Students never cease to amaze me with all the ideas that they might have to share in an interactive manner while remote learning. One such topic was “If you were stranded in the forest, what 5 things would you bring?” Initially the suggestion revolved around a deserted island but got changed to the forest.

Students initally shared how they were feeling in an emoji using the chat. MS Teams was the software used for remote learning. One at a time, students used the microphone to share what they would bring to the forest. Some responses were expected but many had an element of ingenuity and creativity.  Students also had to explain why they would bring those three items. They included the following:-

Torch, gun (to shoot for food!), phone, matches, water, food, first aid kit, dog, pocket knige, car, tent, air grilles, seeds, bucket, lighter, tin can (to gather water), Australian flag, thongs, esky, camping supplies, 4 wheel motor bike, friends, surviavl packs.

One girl actually named two of her friends because one of them is smart and another was experienced at camping and would help with survival.

Dscussions continued on what students had gone camping, where they had gone camping. To make it a richer activity, it was decided that they might need to know the actual location, was there a river, how popular is the location, time, season and how long we are stranded for. All students shared and again, got to know each other better and remained connected.

 

Where are you from?

where are you from

Prior to each ICT class during remote learning, students would put forward suggestions of what topic they would like to share on. I would then add a poll using Polly and students would vote on their preferred option. Although “If I had 3 wishes” was the most voted upon, for some reason, we discussed “Where are you from and where would you go?”. This turned out to be a really interesting lesson, with students sharing their screens and showing us on google maps using a variety of views to show where they had previously lived.

In that year 8 ICT class, we have a student from the Philipines, who has also lived in New Zealand before his family made their way to Australia to work on a local dairy farm. Another student has just enrolled in our school. He has come from Thailand and had been living over there with grandparents, until the COVID19 lockdown when his parents decided to get him back to Australia.  He had only been a student at our school for one week. Both of these boys showed exactly where they were from, used the microphone and screen sharing with perfection to talk about and show what it looked like where the lived, including some of the nearby tourist attractions of Thailand. Erwin who shared the new home that his parents are building in the Philipines also showed us where he had lived in New Zealand.
erwin home

One of the girls has lived in Queensland and showed us her home and surrounds, whilst some of the local students showed us where they live now or where they may have lived previously.
collage

As I love to travel, I found this a really interesting topic.

What school looks like after COVID19 isolation

IMG_7190Victorian students returned to school in two stages – years foundation to 2 and years 11-12 on Tuesday, May 26th. Monday Staff returned to school on Monday May 25th which it was a student free day, enabling staff to prepare for a blend of remote and face to face learning. All other students returned to school on Tuesday June 9th. (Monday, June 8th is a public holiday for the Queen’s birthday). The four day weeks certainly helped to ease us back into something of a routine. Please be aware that our school has 180 students, so our protocols may differ a little to larger schools.

The school leadership has reminded us that:

It’s really important that we focus on the positives today as students return to school, and as we move forward into the emerging normality that will form the experience of being at school. Don’t focus on what has not been achieved over the past seven eight weeks with students; rather, focus on what has, and what will be happening in face to face classes over the rest of the term. There is little to be gained at this point in asking students to ‘catch-up’ if they have not engaged as we would have wished during the period of remote learning   

Our new ‘normal’ school routine is now as follows:-

School buses arrive:-

The buses arrive as usual but the front three rows of seats are cordoned off to protect the driver. (Majority of our students arrive on bus). The bus duty teacher ensures that all students use hand sanitiser as they get off the bus. There are 2 sanitisers on tables in the bus shelter. Parents may drop students off but are not able to enter the school grounds without permission. They are not to loiter and socialise with other parents. Students walk through the bus shelter to their classrooms and sanitise hands.

Morning staff briefings:

Before lockdown, these were held at 8:40am each morning in the staff room. All staff would attend  and were briefed on the school daily and weekly happenings inclucing any student welfare items. The briefings continue but are now emailed to us. Staff are able to add input prior to the email.

Whole school assemblies:-

Were held in the library every Monday morning at 8:55am. Years 3 to 12 would attend. School assemblies continue to be held but are online using MS Teams. Form and class teachers login to Teams from their classrooms and our principal and vice principal run the assembly with the help of the School Captains. Every student has been made a member of the School assembly team so students who are at home can also attend.

whole school assembly2

Classes

Classes run as normal. However, we still have some remote students and need to cater for these. Most classes remain in the same room with teachers coming to them. Prior to ISO, students would move around classrooms to the English room, maths room, Chinese room etc. Sizes remain the same. The average size of our classes is 18 -20. Students sanitise hands on entry and exit. Physical distancing of 1.5 metres is applied where possible but due to the classroom size it is near impossible. However, staff have to social distance from each other. Sports classes cannot participate in any contact sport.

Play times

Play times are as normal. However, younger students are allowed out for lunch 10 mins early to allow them to go to the canteen and ease the queues when the older students are on a lunch break. Students can play on all play equipment. The equipment is all wiped down once a day. However, contact sports are not allowed. 

Canteen and drinking water

All students are asked to bring their own water bottles. However, some drink all their water by lunchtime. The canteen seems to be able to fill the bottles up for them. No bubble taps are to be used. Drinking fountains are empty and cordoned off. Students need to order their lunches by 11:30am but otherwise the canteen is open for food purchases at recess and lunchtime. Crosses on the floor mark the social distance required when queuing.

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Cleaning

Three cleaning staff are now employed between 10am and 2pm. They surface wipe everything. Most class rooms are wiped down during recess and lunchtime, and when they are not being used. The staffroom, playground and all signs are wiped down while students are in class. Hand sanitisers are available in all rooms. Disinfectant wipes are available to wipe down keyboards, computers and mouse(s).

Weekly Staff Meetings

Take place as per normal times and days but are online using MS Teams.

 

 

 

All students return to school today

staff with signage

Staff with welcome signs

Today, after a break of 11 weeks (which included the two week autumn break), all students returned to school. The sun was shining, just as it was when they left school before the lockdown. The radio reported the temperature as 0 degrees celsius (there was a frost) but said it felt like -4 degrees due to the wind factor. It was 4 degrees as the students arrived. 99% of our students catch a bus to school.

Some looked anxious, perplexed but most looked really happy and excited to be back. For the last two weeks, years foundation to 3 and 10-12 had returned to ease staff and students in, and see what the statistics would do. The first cohort were greeted with helium balloons in school colours and cheery welcoming staff as students got off the bus. During this time there was a blend of face to face and remote learning.

the first bus

Staff had decided that they wanted to do something special to warmly and cheerily welcome all students back. Mortlake College had performed a bright dance routine for students when their first cohort returned. It was decided we would do something similar but wear Hawaiin shirts, sandals, bright socks etc.  A dance routine was worked out using a medley of songs – nutbush, YMCA, Macarena and the Time Warp.

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And to remind us of the presence of COVID19, our principal reminded them to use sanitisers before they entered the school building. Bottles are placed on tables in the bus shelter and also at the entrance to each classroom. However, no-one is required to wear face masks.

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Some schools have staggered times for starting but our school is small and as most come in on a bus, it is impossible to do that. Parents drop students off at the gate and are not allowed into the school grounds without permission from our principal. They need to use social distancing of 1.5 metres if they socialize at the gate. All students have to bring their own water bottle. The bubble taps are taped off and cannot be used. Signs everywhere remind us of social distancing, especially for staff who must be 1.5 metres apart. The social staff room’s size only allows 14 in there at a time. The overflow of staff go to the library where an urn and microwave are available. Students are not distanced socially  unless classroom size allows it. My classroom – the computer pod is small so it is impossible to distance in there. Sanitisers and wipes are available and cleaning staff come through at least once and often twice a day to surface wipe everything down. Students are asked to sanitise their hands upon entry to and exit from the classroom. The canteen has crosses marking the floors to show the 1.5m distance. The younger children have lunch 10 mins earlier to avoid crowding in the canteen.

How we all look: Many of us have not had haircuts, some students are out of uniform as they have outgrown their previous winter uniform and some are wearing summer uniform as it was still summer weather when they left. Year 7 students stated how they enjoyed living in casual clothes and slippers whilst in isolation. They wore slippers in the classroom today.

IMG_7190

How it sounded: It was lovely to hear the noise of children playing in the school grounds as I did my yard duty. That has not been heard for 11 weeks. Even over the past 2 weeks, there were not enough children at school to produce those sounds. Throughout the day, there was intense chatter amongst those who had not been to school since the isolation.

The day’s routine: Form assembly started the day as per our usual routine. Students were given time to chat during period one as this is the first time many have seen each other. A full school assembly was held at the beginning of period 2. This was done in MS Teams as it is no longer possible to have everyone assemble in one place due to the social distancing rules

whole school assembly2

Many classes tried to have ‘fun’ type activities to ease students back into the classroom. I found that over the last 2 weeks, my students were rather unsettled and it took a good week to get them back to a school routine. For my year 9/10 ICT class (100 mins), students share the link to their favourite song on youtube. I played the songs and students had to guess who chose that song by writing it on a worksheet that was provided. All students finished their survey form on Two Truths and a Lie, and we went through to see which they thought was the lie. We looked at how classes in Germany are organised as they have started to return to school and we discussed the differences. See this post. To finish the lesson they commenced a Sway on COVID19. They added videos, urls, resources, MEMEs on the virus and remote learning, parody songs etc. They enjoyed searching for the MEMEs and parodies.

The new ‘normal’ for learning, Victoria, Australia

cleaners at worki

Things are looking different, as we return to school after the #COVID19 lockdowns. It has been 9 weeks since students attended school from year prep to 3 and 10 to 12. It will be 11 weeks when years 4-9 return (in two weeks time). There is a new ‘normal’.

99 percent of our students catch a bus to school. Front row seats on the bus are cordoned off to protect the bus driver. It is yet to be determined what happens with students when they all return. Some of our buses are full!

bus with taped off seats

Social distancing measures have been introduced in shared staff spaces. A 1.5metre gap must exist between adults. This allows 14 people to be in the social staff room. Any further numbers will go to the library where an urn and a microwave are in place. Posters are everywhere around the school reminding us all about distancing and hygiene. Hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes, ongoing surface cleaning are available in all classrooms. Students must sanitise their hands upon entry and exit to classrooms.

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Three cleaning staff are now present in the school between 10am and 2 pm. They undertake surface cleaning across the school, including the playground.  Most surfaces will be cleaned twice a day. This includes the computers, keyboards and mouses in the lab.

canteen crosses

The canteen has markers on the floor to indicate appropriate distancing when queuing for food. Younger students will take a lunch break 10 minutes earlier to avoid overcrowding in the canteen. Lunches must be pre-ordered to avoid lengthy queues.

1.5 metres must be allowed between adults and where possible students. Students remain in the same room as much as possible and it is now the teachers who move from room to room. This is to minimize movement and reduce physcial contact. Lockers have had to be moved.

small no of students on tennis courts

School assemblies, part of our weekly traditions,  can no longer be held. Instead they will be held oline, using MS teams to connect all staff and students.  Contact sports cannot be played. Parents are not allowed on the school grounds without express permission from our principal. Staff will meet those students who come by foot and car at the school gates. What was once familiar is now very different, and will be for some time to come.

Amongst all this, our building works continue and are not expected to be completed for a number of months.

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Transitioning back to school

school chinese tea house

Today, all staff return to school after 9 weeks of lock down for COVID-19. The day that all staff left, was also a lovely sunny day, with blue skies and no wind. However, it is now the last week of autumn compared to early autumn. The temperature has changed, we are wearing wintry type clothes now cf summer clothes 9 weeks ago. Hair cuts have not featured high on anyone’s agenda (even though hair dressers have been open) and there has been little opportunity to go shopping for warmer clothes except for online but this has not been a priority.

Apart from 2 weeks of autumn holidays, remote learning has taken place, using a variety of tools including MS Teams, Compass and See-Saw. It is a student free day today, so that we can plan our transitioned return to school.

It is with mixed feelings that we return. Everything was an unknown, we were psyching ourselves up for huge case numbers of COVID-19, overloaded medical and hospital resources and lockdowns. But, Australia has fared much better than initially thought. Initially we were told to brace ourselves for a 6 month lockdown.

However, so much has changed in that time. Almost unbelievably, we have gone through a variety of tighter restrictions in the early stages and been threatened with Stage 4 restrictions. New vocabulary has become part of lives. The restrictions are easing now and will continue to ease on June 1, but we are still told to #stayhome unless absolutely necessary. Staff could get a test for COVID19 at a variety of testing locations if they wished. Quite a number of our staff have done this.

Our day started with a full staff meeting but due to social distancing rules we all found a safe place to sit and participate in the online meeting using MS Teams. This will continue until all restrictions are eased. Staff and student well-being was discussed, as was the use of sanitisers. It was decided that sanitiser bottles will be at the entrance to all doorways of classrooms and the school. There are sufficient supplies for teachers to carry their own if they choose. Students will be asked to sanitise on entry and exit to classrooms, school and their school buses. No parents are allowed in the school without express permission. There will be no social congregating at the gates on school pick up or drop off.

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14 people can safely use our social staff room. This means that the library will also be used for recess and lunchtime with an urn and microwave set up in there for staff use. It is strange to see no-one hugging after a long absence and everyone standing quite distant from each other to even talk. Staff have had to find another desk from the work staff room so that the 1.5 metre rule can be applied.

Tomorrow, years foundation to 2 and years 11-12 will return. Two weeks later the rest of the students will return to school. A blended mix of learning will be used over the next 2 weeks. As our school is small, we have a composite year 2/3 class. The grade 3s will also return tomorrow as will the year 10 cohort as the majority of them are studying a VCE subject. Final year exams have been delayed by 2 weeks for VCE students and Unit 1 and 3 will finish in the last week of this term rather than 2 weeks before the end of term.

Students will be able to use the playgrounds and public playgrounds will re-open. There will be online assemblies for all face to face and remote students on return tomorrow morning.

Dolly’s Day

year 7 collage cont

May 10th is Dolly’s Day. Dolly Everett was a victim of relentless bullying and she passed away at the beginning of 2018. Dolly’s Dream was that everyone would be kind to each other. Her parents have taken up her dream to prevent further young lives being lost and established “Dolly’s Dream” to create a sense of community and togetherness and prevent bullying. Dolly’s favourite colour was blue.

Usually our school would have held a special day of activities but remote learning changed the nature of some of these activities. Students who attended school were treated to a canteen being decorated in blue, with a variety of foods that were coloured blue – jelly, cup cakes etc.

Year 7 ICT had their class on this day, so they voted on the theme of “Wear something blue”. Students showed the blue clothing that they were wearing and some shared a blue object of theirs. Partway through the sharing some comments were appearing in the chat against one of the students, which made a very ‘timely’ lesson on kindness.

dollys collage

We saw and heard students describing the following:-

  • a variety of blue clothes
  • a blue football, with the name Ford on it (which is the second name of the student who showed.)
  • a blue heirloom jug
  • blue hair styles
  • a lovely blue hat complete with blue butterflies (Mrs Huglin and teacher aide created this!)

We discussed the meaning of Dolly Day and shared on kindness.

Other classes across our school completed activities relating to this day. Special thanks to Mrs Huglin for putting together the above collages and to Mr Distel who joined our class.

Year 7 students have just started blogging. Read some of their posts for Dolly Day.

  1. Kindness by Riley
  2. Dolly Day by Lillian
  3. Dolly Day by Xavier

mrs h