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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.