Newsletter – 16 th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians

I write to you once more in response to the recent announcement by the President regarding the extension of the national lockdown by a further two weeks. This has disrupted our initial
arrangements significantly and we have had to consider an alternative course of action while the lockdown continues.

The Phase Principals and I have met remotely via Zoom and we have decided on the following steps:

  • It is hoped that the lockdown will be lifted (at least partially) at the end of April. If this is the case, and if schools are included in the lifting, we plan to resume on-site teaching on
    Monday, 4th May 2020. There will be a number of requirements with which pupils will need to comply before we allow them to resume classes. These will relate to their safety and will be communicated in due course.
  • Distance teaching will resume for ALL pupils on Monday, 20th April 2020. Our teachers, under the guidance of their Phase Principals, are currently busy preparing the materials that will be required for distance teaching and these will be provided to pupils in due course.
  • The pupils in the Pre-School will receive their work via WHATSAPP. The existing Whatsapp groups will be used to deliver the material. Mrs Stewart and her team will make the necessary arrangements and then communicate with parents.
  • The Junior Prep (Gr 1-3) will make use of the class DOJO. Mrs Du Preez and her team will let parents know regarding these arrangements.
  • In the Senior Prep (Gr 4-7) Mrs Rodrigues and the Senior Prep staff will make use of the D6 COMMUNICATOR APP to provide content. If you have not yet registered with D6 you are requested to do so immediately. Failure to register will mean that your child will not be able to access the required material.
  • The Senior School (Gr 8-12) will use GOOGLE CLASSROOM and distance teaching will continue in the same manner as before the holiday break, towards the end of March. The process will be managed by Mrs Crosby and Mrs Pita.
  • Contact time for teachers will be from 8:00am to 2:30pm daily from Monday to Friday. Please respect these times.
  • The success of the distance teaching and learning initiative depends heavily on pupils’ access to both a device and data. While I realise that it may be challenging for some parents to provide this, I urge you to make every effort to ensure connectivity for your children so that they can participate fully and gain the full benefit of the programme.

We are constantly being told that we are entering a so-called “new normal” post-lockdown phase, part of which will rely on an increased use of electronic media. Schools will not escape this reality and we need to embrace the changes. We are therefore giving parents time to do the necessary planning and make appropriate arrangements prior to 20th April.

You will also note that we haven’t published a revised term or year calendar. The reason for this is that we do not have enough confirmed information to determine a final calendar as yet. Our focus is on a return date to school, because once we confirm that, the rest of the academic year can be determined. Once again, I want to assure you that we will make up all time lost and that our pupils will not be deprived of any contact time. The Executive Committee is already engaged in exploring various possible options which could include:

  • Extending the school day
  • Revising school holidays
  • Revising aspects of the assessment programme
  • Curtailing the co-curricular programme in favour of academic priorities

We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to provide top-notch education to our pupils. We continue to consult extensively within the school and with colleagues at other independent schools. We are guided by the advice we receive from both ISASA and the IEB and we continue to rely on our Governors for their input.

Together we will beat this virus!

Amid all the activities related to lockdown, I also have some good news to share. Our Senior School History teacher Mrs Geral, and her husband, welcomed a beautiful baby girl earlier this week. The little one arrived prematurely but is doing well. Mom has been discharged from hospital and is preparing for the new addition to the family to come home soon. I extend my hearty congratulations to the Geral family from all of us at St Catherine’s.

Yours faithfully

Mr D.I. Maritz
Head of School