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Headmaster Mr Grant Lander
Photo by Mark Hamilton

Headmaster's Pen

Grant Lander —

In recent weeks we have been planning for the shift back to face-to-face delivery of teaching and learning.

Dear Parents and Caregivers

On Monday, May 11, the Prime Minister is scheduled to make an announcement on a transition from Alert Level 3 to Level 2. At the school, we have in recent weeks been planning for a shift back to face-to-face delivery of teaching and learning. If we assume that such a decision will be made 48 hours after the government’s announcement, then the strategy that we would look to put into place would be as follows:

The students involved in the Tihoi Intake One 2020 would return to the Venture campus on Friday, May 15, to recommence their programme. They would remain in their intake bubble right through to Graduation on Saturday, June 27. Families of the Year 10 young men involved in this programme were communicated with on Monday regarding this.

All of the students working with the main campus will continue with the Distance Learning Delivery (DLD) programme until Thursday 14 May. On Friday 15 May, Hamilton campus staff would return to school for a Teachers' Only Day to be involved in meetings and to set up rooms to meet social-distancing guidelines for lessons to start the week after.

On Sunday, May 17, boarding students would return to school. Junior students would arrive at 4.00 pm and seniors at 5.00 pm; where they will be provided with an evening meal over staggered time periods, in the dining room, and take part in meetings which would outline the arrangements and requirements for their return to residential living on the school site.

On Monday 18 May, day students, would return to school at 8.00 am and report to their houses in the Student Centre, (ie other than Harington day girls who will directly go to the Chapel of Christ the King) to receive a digital briefing from the Headmaster on protocols that will be observed from then on while Alert Level 2 is in operation. No student who has a cold, sore throat or flu symptoms or is feeling unwell, should attend school on this day or during any other day at Alert Level 2. 

  • All students will be temperature tested prior to the start of their first school day and each school day that follows during term two. 
  • All students will be expected to bring their own reusable water container to school for the rest of the term. No glasses or cups will be proved in the dining room, houses, nor will any of the drinking fountains be accessible on site. 
  •  All students will be issued with two reusable face masks which they will be expected to wear in classrooms where their teacher is immune-compromised or is supporting someone in their family who is vulnerable, or for mass gatherings of less than 100 people. It will be mandatory for all students to have their reusable face mask everyday this term. Students will be sent home if they don’t bring the face mask. These are currently being sewed for them by members of the school community.

DLD will be available for any student who requires it, at least until Queen’s Birthday weekend. As I have mentioned previously, it is extremely challenging for us to operate, for any length of time, a dual platform of DLD and face-to-face teaching and learning. We will send out, after the Prime Minister‘s announcement, a much more detailed outline of both how the boarding house and school will be organised and structured under Alert Level 2 for face-to-face teaching and learning, and communal living. We will be asking all families next week to complete a digital form, in order to ascertain the state of their son or daughter‘s health, connection with anyone who has been affected by COVID-19 and to ascertain whether parents and caregivers will be sending their son/daughter back to school prior to the Queen’s Birthday term break.

Logistically, the national governance guidelines with regard to Alert Level 2 pose some significant challenges. It will rely very much on the goodwill, compliance and cooperation of the student body as a whole. I recognise that many of our young people are looking forward to a time when they are able to mix and socialise together in some sort of normality. What they will have to realise is that the ‘new normal’ is not the same as what they enjoyed in either March or February. 

We will be able to put into place acceptable social-distance and guidelines and procedures for the classroom, for meetings, in prep and in our dining room, but students outside of the formal schedule will be expected to exercise caution and commonsense in the washing of hands, application of hand sanitiser, and striving to keep one metre apart. Where they can’t exercise good judgment, they will be sent home to learn. 

As staff, we certainly don’t want to be the health police. I believe our teenagers are old enough and mature enough, as a whole, to manage this situation in a pragmatic, sensible manner. They need to get away from a life dominated by their screens and get the benefit of much needed people contact. We are very much looking forward to having them back with us.