Dear Parents and Carers
We have entered Week 3 and Phase 2A of the Managed Return to School Plan here at the College and by now, if your daughter is in Years 7, 8, 9, 11 or 12 she will have attended school for at least one day of this week. Year 10 will be onsite tomorrow, Thursday. What a difference a phase makes! Of course, we have been open since Week 1 of this term and some students have been onsite, however, I have to tell you that the sound of nearly 600 students on campus on Monday morning was welcome and exciting and referenced a return to some form of “normal” – at least for us here at school!
We have missed having the students physically present – this is the reason we are here, students and staff – we are social beings and thrive on positive relationships and interactions. The students clearly feel this too, as they greeted each other and their teachers as they would after a long break like the Christmas holidays. The focus for this week is reconnection and the sharing of stories, alongside the learning and teaching and wellbeing focus so innately a part of the fabric of OLMC.
There will be a period of adjustment for your daughter/s as she returns to the physical space of school and the structure that comes with it. This is normal. Even the ringing of the bells to signal the beginning and end of the day brings order that may have been missed. We are all looking forward to regaining some amount of normality in the school day. Some students (and families!) will have found their rhythm in the online learning model, but we are looking forward to helping students recalibrate to learning inside and outside the classroom.
I have to say I am so impressed with the way the students and staff have managed and adjusted so quickly to remote learning and zoom lessons and we will maintain our Continuous Learning Program and a modified schedule during Phase 2A. While the government and health officials continue to monitor the pandemic and the related social implications we know that consistency of learning delivery at this time will allow us the flexibility needed should any restrictions be reintroduced.
On campus, we are maintaining our safe practices for everyone’s protection. You may have missed my email last week so I thought a reminder would be useful to you:
- We are encouraging social distancingü Parents are asked to remain outside the gates when dropping off/collecting their daughters
- Visitors to the site are restricted
- Sanitiser stations have been placed in corridors around the campuses
- A a safe-distancing line has been created for the Canteen
- Cleaning regimens during the day have been increased to two per day
- We continue to educate the College community about how we can protect ourselves from COVID-19.
While it was disappointing to not have our Mother/Daughter Day Mass onsite this year I would like to acknowledge all mothers, grandmothers and those who undertake this role for our students, and hope that you had a rich and fulfilling Mother’s Day together. Thank you to Father Walter, to Mrs Scanlon, Director of Mission and to Mrs Ellen Lonergan, Retreats and Liturgy Coordinator, for collating and delivering a wonderful “virtual” liturgy for us. Many people contributed to this liturgy, in terms of music, prayers and readings and I thank them too. Ms Dominique Granturco assembled the recordings of us all – thank you! I am truly grateful that we found this way to spiritually connect. Challenge exceptionally well met!
I cannot yet provide an exact date for the introduction of Phase 2B but I will communicate this with you once we are certain ourselves that everything is in place for the safe increase of student attendance. Again I will be guided by the advice of health authorities and that of government at State and Federal levels. What I can say is that learning has changed. You will have noticed that your daughter is more flexible and autonomous in her learning. Perhaps more capable than she thought. We have all learned much about ourselves during our response to this pandemic. We have expanded beyond what we know we can be. The good things, the strengths we have gained or amplified, must be retained. This is our growth and we are obligated to use it wisely now. I will say more about this as I continue to communicate with you and we will be asking you for your feedback too - what can you tell us about the things that have been done well by the College? By your daughter? What must we, should we, could we do? What should we stop, start or do more? What will learning look like in the future?
Before COVID-19 reshaped 2020 for us and while we operated in what we considered “normal” times, our Year 7 students transitioned to High School with everything ahead of them. Our Year 12 students began their last three terms at the College expecting that they knew what this would involve as they prepared for their Higher School Certificate. Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 also thought they knew what to reasonably expect. So did we! It is important to remember not only our Year 12 girls who will be sitting their HSC at the end of the year, but also our Year 7 girls who had less than a term at the College before the pandemic socially distanced us. In less than a term, everything changed dramatically for everyone but we have proved ourselves! We have proved our strength as a Mercy community and we have proved our agility and resilience. We have proved to be exactly what Catherine McAuley envisaged for us - to be strong and capable, confident and courageous. I know she would be proud of who we have become.
Mrs Marie Wood