From the Principal

That’s the way it is in 2021

“Freedom Day!” trumpeted the media recently.

What the headlines missed is that, for quite logical health reasons, schools still have specific restrictions on their operations.

The restrictions on our school have some consequences that mean the usual, normal or everyday life of the school has been put on hold. These changes include:

Vaccinations → Accepting that vaccinations offer the best defence against serious COVID symptoms and even death, we have done our best to ensure that our School community has had access to vaccinations. We see it as not only a safety measure but a social responsibility response. Almost all our staff are fully vaccinated and a growing number of our families and students are either fully vaccinated or on that path. We are grateful for the assistance of local medical centres in working with the school to make this possible and wonder at the kind of person who would abuse medical staff and young people for exercising their free choice to become vaccinated. Maybe these people see their “freedoms” as more important than the freedoms of others?

Quiet mornings at the school → Before school co-curricular programs have been cancelled by the Level 3 restrictions. The ovals are almost empty, the choirs do not sing and the myriad other reasons students come to school before the bell have been put on hold. Naturally, that means that the School fills up in a shorter period, leading to an increase in peak morning traffic.

Excursions, competitions etc → O.K. so the upside of this is no 5.00am starts in the dark and no 11.00pm (or later) returns. The down side is the loss of the joy of competition, the chance to learn in a variety of environments, and the opportunity to see how things are done outside our region.

Front Reception Office doors closed → St Columba is usually a welcoming place and our frontline staff are recognised for their courtesy, helpfulness and professionalism. Now with restrictions on who can enter the campus, the office can only be approached via a window and buzzer.

Afternoon Traffic → As the school has grown, we have been dealing with the increase in vehicle traffic. Now that afternoon sports training and co-curricular activities have had to be cancelled, spreading the student collection time over a couple of hours most afternoons, and with parents not allowed on campus, afternoon traffic is now concentrated on  a shorter period, leading to longer queues. We have staggered the end of school times and increased our traffic supervision but………

Celebrations → Assemblies, graduations, photo days are but a few of the normal parts of our School’s life that have been taken away as part of the Health response to the pandemic. Plans are made under the Public Health Orders, only to be cancelled or postponed (again) as the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions evolve and change. We re-group, regather and reorganise in the hope that some of these important aspects of St Columba school life can happen this year.

Lockdowns → They come and they go and we accept that we have to take the steps required if a case hits our community. But we know that we may not have had our last lockdown for the year. The facts are that 50 schools had multiple cases of COVID in the last 4 weeks of Term 3. So far in Term 4, 14 schools have been closed due to 5 staff cases and 27 student cases. Watch this space!

“What do you want from me?
It’s not how it used to be.
You’ve taken my life away,
Ruining everything.”

That’s the reality of school life today.

Considering all the changes, inconveniences and disappointments of this year so far, I would like to thank our parents and our community for their support and understanding during this “unprecedented” year.

Thank you for:

  • Dealing so patiently with the constant changes in rules;
  • Understanding that the School is required by law to meet Public Health Order restrictions;
  • Supporting our students during imposed online learning periods;
  • The generosity of spirit and cooperation of our local medical centres in making vaccinations available;
  • Understanding that afternoon traffic jams in our area are a combination of COVID pressures and the ongoing problems this area has with planning, growth and access;
  • Being understanding and not making it hard for our staff to “police” the rules we are required to work under;
  • Not abusing our afternoon student pick-up staff no matter how long the queues;
  • Sticking with us as we do our best to navigate these “interesting” times.

Terry Muldoon
Principal

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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