March 13, 2020

It has been an extremely busy two weeks with many events and of course preparations for our Centenary Performing Arts Festival.

In addition to all of this has been our planning and management of the impact of Novel Coronavirus Pandemic and I would like to thank students, staff and parents for their support.

We have been regularly reminding students and staff of hygiene protocols and also this week, reminders about students and staff not attending school if they are unwell. We ask for your continued vigilance in this area.

We have significantly reduced educational activities outside of the school and postponed key Centenary events and international tours. This morning Girls Sport Victoria also cancelled the Swimming and Diving Carnivals in the next few weeks.

There has been significant development over the term in online learning programs, particularly in Senior School as we work to ensure continuity of delivery of programs for all students, but in particular our VCE students in the event of a school closure.  Parents will be receiving communications from Paul Donohue (Head of Junior School) and Cathy Poyser (Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School) today with more details about delivery of programs if the school closes.

Some of the strategies that were implemented earlier in the term when students had a delayed start to the year included:

> Videoconferencing was used through platforms such asWebex and Zoom.

> Using the screen record function on an iPad or laptop (such as QuickTime) short instructional videos were created for students to access at their convenience.

> Collaborative online tasks and activities allowed students to connect and interact with each other (both in real time and asynchronously)

> Padlet was used for brainstorming and mind-mapping

> Presentation applications (such as Google Slides or PowerPoint) were made editable and accessible online.

> Curriculum resources were made accessible to students through our Learning Management System

Since then we have also tested online discussion platforms, such as ‘Yammer’ that are used to foster and create interactions between teachers and learners. Teachers and students can share resources, post announcements as well as pose and answer questions.

I am very grateful to our teaching and learning team for their work in this area.

From our experiences earlier this term, online delivery was particularly successful for those students who continued to ask questions of their teachers during this time and who had set up productive working spaces in their home. The mindset that you are still ‘at school’ but in a different location was very important.

Whilst it has been a challenging term so far, there has been some fabulous learning and celebrations.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody