Dear Parents and Guardians

Last Saturday morning the Board of Governors met at school for the first on-site meeting since early February. These selfless individuals were prepared to brave the risks presented by the virus to gather so that we could deliberate on the well-being of our school. Our sincere thanks to them for sharing their wisdom and advice. The Region Prioress, Sister Stephany, summed it up when she lauded all present for embodying the St Catherine’s spirit and ethos. Over tea, I mentioned that we were hopeful that we would reach the end of term without any significant incident. How vain that hope proved to be!

On Sunday and Monday, I was informed that two of our pupils tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. We gathered all the relevant information, called the COVID-19 Committee together on Tuesday and determined an appropriate course of action. The NICD approved our proposed steps and the rest, as they say in the classics, is history.

This morning we got the news that a pupil in the Junior Preparatory phase had tested COVID-19 positive after visiting relatives. In line with our protocols, we have placed the affected class and the teacher in self-isolation for a period of fourteen days. The Junior Preparatory block will also be deep cleaned and sanitised by our professional service provider over the weekend. The class concerned will return to the Digischool format for the isolation period so that no academic work is lost.

The events of this week have clearly demonstrated that the pandemic is not only reaching its peak in our province, but that it will not leave our school untouched. There is no guarantee that we, as a school, can provide that assures parents and the school community at large that our children are immune from infection. The assurances that I can provide are that we have the welfare of our staff and pupils as our highest priority, and that we have all the necessary procedures and protocols in place to give effect to this.

In BROAD TERMS, these are the steps that are followed when the school becomes aware of a possible infection of either a staff member or a pupil:

  • Pupils or staff are immediately instructed to isolate themselves and prohibited from entering the school campus.
  • Parents are required to complete a contact information form which must be returned to school as speedily as possible.
  • Once the contact form has been returned, the COVID-19 Committee meets to determine a proposed course of action. The course of action is informed by the COVID-19 Management Plan. The plan is based on the NICD Guidelines.
  • Once a course of action is finalised, the NICD is contacted to confirm that the action plan is appropriate and meets their guidelines.
  • Parents or teachers are informed of the course of action which must be taken before they will be able to return to school.
  • Feedback is provided to relevant parties.

Should a parent decide to keep their child at home during this period, they have the right to do so. This has been confirmed in previous newsletters and has also been reiterated by the Minister of Basic Education on several occasions. However, I encourage parents to continue to send their children to school as we are now focusing fully on on-site teaching and not on distance learning. Although we will post worksheets, tasks etc. on the Google platform this does not substitute for actual classroom instruction. Should you opt to keep your child at home, it is essential that you take responsibility for your child’s teaching and learning. It is also important to remember that assessments will only be conducted on-site here at school to maintain the integrity of the test or examination.

Have a good weekend. Keep warm and stay safe.

Yours faithfully

Mr D.I. Maritz
Head of School