To our Shenton Community,
Attached is a link to a letter from the Hon Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training, that provides a further update on the recent attendance announcements.
We thank you for your support in these complex times.
Below are the full details of the announcement from the Premier, this morning.
I know the situation around our public schools has been causing angst for parents, teachers, staff and students.
I understand that it may be confusing, but we’ve kept them open, consistent with the best medical advice at hand through the National Cabinet process.
Today, as the pandemic situation moves forward, we move to the next step.
Firstly, from Monday, March 30, we will now encourage parents to keep children at home if they can, and access the online learning resources we have made available.
However, all children who do attend public schools will continue to be taught.
Where parents need children to attend school to enable them to maintain employment, and for those children in vulnerable families, like children living with grandparents, they are encouraged to continue to attend school.
Public schools will remain open from Monday, March 30 to Friday, April 3.
In addition, formal classes will now finish at the end of Friday, April 3, one week earlier than planned.
Teachers and education assistants will now use this time to plan and prepare for a new way of teaching from the start of Term 2, with work continuing through the school holidays.
However, arrangements will be in place in schools to supervise children who need to attend school on the last four days prior to Easter, where parents require it to maintain their employment, or due to a personal situation.
It is crucial for us to strike the right balance between keeping the community safe, allowing essential services to continue and provide a quality education to our students in this difficult time.
I want to reassure parents that our schools are well prepared to continue to provide education for their children.
Thank you to the parents and carers of Western Australian children for their understanding and support for school staff as we navigate our way together through this unprecedented situation.
And thank you to our teachers, education assistants and all school staff for the essential work they do across our State.This is an incredibly difficult situation, thank you for your patience, and we will let you know about plans for Term 2 as soon as possible.
What is Choice?
Wright Mills, American sociologist and professor of Sociology at Columbia University, once wrote “Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them — and then, the opportunity to choose.”
Without doubt, we should defend our civil right to choose. The liberty to choose, and freedom of choice, are fundamental pillars of any healthy society. I have, however, questioned if, during this time of COVID-19 and social isolation, parents have really been empowered with the right to choose.
Over recent weeks, I have watch with interest the debate over school closures. Parents and students alike are following with interest the conflicting views of health professionals and economists. How best to fight the war on COVID-19 will be a discussion that will continue well into the future. Patchwork responses across the globe reflect our differences in philosophy, resourcing, culture, governments and laws. I have stated in previous correspondence that my expertise is in education, not health. For this reason, I believe it prudent to follow the voice of health experts during a health crisis. I also stated that I believe that the actions of systems need to be coordinated and clear. World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stressed at a recent press conference “Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all.”
Whilst Shenton College has enacted several measures, and followed all the directives around mass gatherings and events from the Department of Health and the Department of Education, many parents and many students are more interested in whether or not the school will close. School closings are not decisions made by a public school principal. The benefit of school closings has also become a hot topic for debate. Several countries have now resorted to an extreme measure: forcing almost their entire population to stay home. Here in Australia, COVID-19 and its impact on children, asymptomatic infections and transmission of the virus, curtailing human rights, the impact of closures on badly needed health care workers, children missing months of education, and crippling the economy have all been espoused as reasons why schools must stay open.
Many parents, however, have elected to keep their children home for just and responsible reasons. Many have respectfully explained the dilemma they face with looking after elderly relatives, or family members with comorbidities, whilst try to ensure their child can actively participate in learning. Several parents have expressed how they feel torn between making an ethical, social-health decision and a practical education decision; grappling with what is best for their child and what is best for society. I cannot resolve this dilemma for parents; I can assure you that we will support you in whatever decision you make.
Whilst a public school principal does not decide whether or not their school closes, they do decide on how they empower their community to be able to make choices. To this end Shenton College has been testing their readiness to adapt and deliver curricula, utilising existing systems, without face-to-face options over a three-week period until the end of Term 1. Our delivery platform, Compass, has been structured for sharing lesson plans and other lesson resources over the internet. Teachers have now placed on Compass, resources differentiated for each stage of learning, and for all learning areas, from Years 7-12. Teachers have tested individual student email access and have considered additional e-platforms to support remote home-based learning. They have been proactively testing student logins and our network technicians have been assessing the Compass platform for mass remote home delivery. Formal assessments have been modified, adjusted or removed to minimise disruption to student learning if they need to stay home over the next three weeks. Furthermore, teachers have developed alternative, paper-based resources for any children who do not have internet access at home. May I highlight that the Compass e-resources platform is not an alternative to face-to-face teaching. The resources we have developed are only a temporary solution to a complex time of uncertainty, anxiety and fear. We have not uploaded these resources to suggest students stay home. We have taken this action only to enable our parents a choice.
- Shenton College will remain open until we are informed by authorities to close.
- All learning resources are now available on-line in an electronic format covering the next three weeks of student learning for all year groups and all learning areas.
- All assessments have been modified, adjusted or removed for Weeks 8, 9 and 10 of Term 1.
- In circumstances where individual parents choose to temporarily withdraw their children from school, prior to a directive from government, there is no Education Department requirement for teachers to provide additional work/lessons for those children. Shenton staff are, however, well aware that some parents are responsibly keeping their child at home and have endeavoured to support all children through our Compass learning platform for the next three weeks only. This is a courtesy not a requirement.
- Shenton has no plans to extend remote delivery, nor immediate capacity to continue remote delivery, after Term 1.
As a parent how can I support my child during the remainder of Term 1?
- Remain objective, calm, supportive and informed.
- Ensure you have up-to-date records on Compass, as we will be using this platform to communicate.
- Keep all email communication to teachers and the school to a minimum and only if it is essential. This time has been equally stressful for Shenton College staff. Shenton College has establish a parent feedback email: email@example.com. This email will be monitored; please expect delays in response.
- Please be aware that we cannot run a dual timetable curriculum for students who elect to either stay at home or come to school; therefore, Compass resources will be our curriculum for the rest of this term.
- Parents who elect to keep their children home should do everything they can to ensure their children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Finally, learning activities, resources, and assessments have all be modified. However, students will need to take responsibility for completion of work and engagement.
My grandmother once said to me: “Michael, they say everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice. However, firstly you have to be given a choice.”
I am grateful to be a Principal of a school with such a fine body of staff, inspirational students and supportive parents. The Shenton Community has always been objective, supportive and caring. The Shenton Difference embodies the uniqueness and connectedness of our community – that “something more”. I do not know what challenges will befall us in Term 2; I do know that if we address them together and in a collaborative, caring and ethical manner, we will feel justified when we say we are a proudly public, proudly excellent and proudly inclusive school.
In the words of Morgan Scott Peck, American psychiatrist and best-selling author in his book, The Different Drum: “Community is … like electricity, it is profoundly lawful. Yet there remains something about it that is inherently mysterious, miraculous, unfathomable. Thus there is no adequate one-sentence definition of genuine community. Community is something more than the sum of its parts, its individual members. What is this “something more?” Even to begin to answer that, we enter a realm that is not so much abstract as almost mystical. It is a realm where words are never fully suitable and language itself falls short.”
Thank you for being part of that mystical Shenton community.
Dear Parents and Caregivers
As you will all be aware the Department of Health and the Department of Education have implemented a range of coordinated actions for school principals. This week, I have met with all senior leaders and executive staff, and have had communications with all Shenton staff about our coordinated response to the Departmental advice, and our preparedness for temporary school closures. Please rest assured that we are well prepared for a temporary closure. The College has enhanced its hygiene measures and its level of communication. We have put on additional cleaners and have been proactive in our response to international travel and non-essential, mass gatherings. We are also a 14-hectare site and already have a staggered timetable with early starts, early closes and separate recess and lunch breaks. Shenton College has excellent network capability and outstanding network technicians. In a time of imposed social distancing, please let us not forget our moral values and our human responsibility to care for others. Please also be aware that during heightened states of concern and anxiety, we, as adults, need to be mindful of how our actions impact on our children.
What international tours will go ahead this Year at Shenton?
None. We had previously stopped all international travel to all countries other than New Zealand. Today, Shenton College will cancel its participation in the Music tour to New Zealand. Parents will be fully reimbursed any collected funds.
What other events are you cancelling or postponing?
As you would be aware, the Australian Government has announced that all organised, non-essential, mass gatherings attended by more than 500 people must be cancelled. Shenton College has put additional measures to enhance safety and well-being. We had added enhanced hygiene measures across all areas of the College. Today our School Response team put in place some additional social distancing measures and cancelled or postponed a number of large, non-essential, non-curricula events:
- All Year Assemblies postponed until further notice
- 20/03/2020 Interschool swimming cancelled
- Term 1 and Term 2 all interschool sports cancelled
- 25/03/2020 Year 12 UWA, alternative entry events postponed
- 26/03/2020 P&C AGM – postponed to Term 2, Week 3
- 30/03/2020 Year 7 Big Day out to UWA Sports –postponed
- 02/04 /2020 Year 10 Perth Science & Engineering Challenge at Claremont Showgrounds – cancelled
- 02/04/ 2020 Year 10 RAC Streetsmart – cancelled
- 03/04/2020 Charity Day – postponed to Term 4
Shenton College has also taken the additional step to advised all external providers and external users of the College site after school hours, that no external use, no matter the size, will occur until further notice. We are also trying to reschedule some non-essential, non-curriculum events like our school Photography Day.
What is the school doing to prepare for a possible temporary closure?
A lot. Each area of responsibility has considered and tested their readiness to adapt and deliver curricula, utilising existing systems, without face-to-face options. Compass is, and will continue to be, our default College delivery platform. Compass will be used for sharing lesson plans and other lesson resources. Teachers are testing individual student’s email access and are considering additional e-platforms to support remote learning. Teachers have been proactive in testing student logins. Our network team have been looking at how we maintain the platform remotely to ensure reliable bandwidth at periods of high demand. If we close, your child’s teachers will communicate via Compass. If your child does not have access to Compass at home, they need to inform their teachers and their teachers will consider alternative paper resources to support your child’s learning during a temporary closure.
In summary what is the College doing to support my child?
- We have been contingency planning for a temporary school closure for over a month.
- Each area of responsibility has testing their readiness to deliver across existing systems without face-to-face options.
- Compass will be our default college delivery platform.
- Assessments will need to be, and are being, modified. We are doing all we can to ensure that students will not be disadvantaged.
- We have conducted a brief audit on who can’t access Compass from home so that we can plan for this eventuality. Some parents and some students are not using this platform and need to contact their individual teachers so we can assist them.
- Some additional resources are being scanned and uploaded. Specifically, the key learnings.
- Students need to ensure they establish an email link with their teacher. They should ensure they have tested this link.
- In circumstances where individual parents withdraw their children from school, without a direction from government/principal, there is no Departmental requirement for teachers to provide additional work/lessons for those students. However, we are well aware that some parents are responsibly keeping their child at home and we will endeavour to support all children through our Compass learning platform.
As parents how can we support our child in the case of a temporary school closure?
Remain objective, calm, supportive and informed. We all need to plan for the possibility of a temporary school closure. Closure could last for anything between 1 and 14 days, potentially longer. Closures could back on to school holidays. Parents need to be aware that only the Minister or Principal of Shenton College will communicate closure or pending closure and this will be communicated via Compass, SMS and Mailchimp to all parents. Parents and caregivers should ensure that they have up-to-date records on Compass, as we will be using this platform to communicate. During this time of heightened anxiety, can I ask that parents keep all email communication to a minimum and only if it is essential. Shenton College has establish a feedback firstname.lastname@example.org. This email will be monitored; however please expect delays. Parents should also be aware that if Shenton College is required to close we will not be able to run a timetabled curriculum. Learning activities, resources, and assessments will all be modified and students will need to take responsibility for completion and engagement.
What should I say to my child about COVID-19?
Misinformation spreads fear. Life is ten percent what you experience, and ninety percent how you respond to it. During these times, many of us will show signs of anxiety. Below is a link to a Michael Carr-Greg (Senior Psychologist) video that may be useful for parents in how to support their children in these times. We seem to be currently in a time devoid of facts and full of negatives. Highlighting positive, and factual information will help to reduce anxiety and unnecessary worry.
Dear Staff, Students, Parents and Caregivers
What is risk?
Dictionary definitions aside, probably a better question now would be “What is the best way to address risk and what is the appropriate response?”
A society can be measured by its ability to assess risk and on how well it responds, rationally and consistently, to risk. In the modern world of social media and 24/7 news, misinformation spreads even faster than disease and fear spreads faster than infection. My expertise is in education, not in health. For this reason, I believe it prudent to follow the voice of health experts during times of health warnings. I also believe that the actions of systems need to be coordinated and clear. This is not a time for schools to act individually or rashly. The response of Shenton College to risk will not be led by the misconceptions of a few, but by the wisdom of those who are appointed to know.
During times of a viral health hazard, early, coordinated, communicated, informed and proportional health responses will assuage infection rates. However, fear, panic, discrimination and misinformation has the potential to do more damage to our society than the virus itself. Education has a clear role to play here. Healthy habits such as hygiene, hand washing, cough etiquette, and staying home when ill, will assist in reducing the transmission of the infection. Healthy information such as clear and shared lines of communication, accessing only reliable sources of information like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and communicating only agreed scientific facts, rather than spurious myths, will also help us during a time of challenge. Shenton College will try to ensure that we continue to share only accurate communications of health information to our community. I have observed, over my 20 years as a Principal, the harm and the harmed from the promotion of gossip on social media platforms. Untraceable sources and anonymity, under the guise of information, has done significant damage to our society. We need to ensure that our ‘Shenton Community’ are not contributors to this. Please be assured that Shenton College is prepared should we have a student or staff member test positive to this virus, or if we are required by the Department of Education to temporarily close. Another assurance I would like to communicate is that the health risk to members of our school community is still low. This stated, we will continue to be proactive and balanced in our responses.
Will Shenton close?
I cannot answer that question, but I can say that we have been contingency planning for a closure and we are prepared to continue delivery of curriculum, assessment and reporting requirements across remote and e-platforms if we need to. I would also say that it is prudent for families to discuss contingencies in the event that their child is required to temporarily remain at home. If our college was required to be closed you will be informed by me and we will be using Compass and Mailchimp communication platforms. Teaching and learning would continue with our staff differentiating learning specific to year groups. Assessments would be modified and students would not be disadvantaged.
Now would be an opportune moment to ensure that your family’s contact details and logins are all up-to-date. If there have been any recent changes in your postal address, phone numbers, or email addresses, please inform us on email@example.com .
Who cannot attend Shenton?
Students or staff cannot attend school and need to self-quarantine if they have:
- left or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, they must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving mainland China;
- left or transited through Iran on or after 1 March, they must isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving Iran;
- left or transited through the Republic of Korea, on or after 5 March, they must isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving the Republic of Korea;
- left or transited through Italy, on or after 11 March, they must isolate themselves for 14 days after leaving Italy. People who left or transited through Italy prior to 11 March, should monitor symptoms and seek medical attention should they feel unwell;
- been informed by public health authorities that they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case.
- all returned travelers who have travelled in or transited through “higher risk” countries or a country considered to pose a “moderate risk” of transmission in the last 14 days, should self-monitor for symptoms and immediately isolate themselves if they become unwell.
A Precautionary act relating to travel
I ask all parents and staff to consider carefully any non-essential travel, regardless of destination, age or health. All school funded, non-critical, international travel for Shenton staff has been postponed, other than to New Zealand. I advise our community to check the Smart Traveller website prior to travelling to ensure that they have the latest information and can make informed decisions.
What should I do if I have a sick child or if I am a sick staff member?
At this time, it would be precautionary to keep your child at home if they are unwell or if you are a Shenton staff member and feeling sick.
Is Shenton College considering responding to non-essential, mass gathering events of more than 500 students?
Yes. I will be meeting with all senior leaders and executive members to discuss events that are not directly linked to curriculum outcomes, and that involve more than 500 students. We will be informed and advised by our Department, and the Department of Health, as well as the educational importance of the events in question.
I thank every student, parent and staff member who has supported our college and community by their measured and educated response to this matter. I feel blessed to work with our students, their parents, Shenton staff and within this community.
Meredith Eddington is the new Alumni Manager at Shenton College. Meredith has been appointed to help alumni from Hollywood SHS, Swanbourne SHS and Shenton College and one of the key areas she is looking to support is school reunions. If any alumni year group wishes to hold a reunion, Meredith is here to help organise a venue, catering and will help you to source and find memorabilia from your time at school.
For a reunion to work well people from that year need to gather their fellow alums together – find them & encourage them to attend, usually later in the year (October to December). This gives people living interstate & even overseas time to plan a trip home.
Meredith will also play a role in helping the College in the process of setting up a database to further establish a Shenton community and alumni will be an important part of this group. As we collect information it will be recorded in the graduating year, the Class of 1970 or 1980, etc. and made available to use for school reunions and other events. More information about the database soon.
Meredith will also play a key role in organising our celebrations this year as Shenton College turns 20. A 20th Year Celebration Cocktail Party is being held later in the year outside on our new landscaped terracing in front of Borneo house. More information on this event soon.
Our thanks go to our College P&C for their support of this valuable initiative.
Please email Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss anything alumni and/or events.
A reminder to our school community that applications for places in Gifted and Talented programs around the state for 2021, close this weekend on February 9th.
Applications can be submitted through the Department’s website here.