Letter to St Patrick’s College Community from Principal, Mr Steven O’Connor
January 25, 2022
25 January 2022
Dear Parents & Carers,
I am pleased to offer all of you a very warm welcome to the 2022 school year! I hope that you enjoyed a lovely Christmas with family and friends and that you feel refreshed after a summer holiday. I extend a special welcome to those students who are new to St Pat’s this year; we are looking forward to getting to know you as part of this great place! Welcome!
As you would be aware, the Victorian Government recently outlined its Back-To-School plan. The measures set out in the plan are designed to ensure every possible effort is made to ensure staff and students are safe and that schools remain open.
As part of this plan, free rapid antigen tests will be made available for all staff and students for the first four weeks of Term 1. Rapid antigen testing will be voluntary. The recommendation from the Victorian Government is that Secondary school staff and students test twice weekly on school days.
Rapid antigen test kits will be distributed directly via the College. Tests will be provided in packs of five individual tests. One pack will be made available for each child at the start of week one and one pack for each child at the start of week three. Students and staff will do the tests at home.
If staff or students receive a positive test result at any time, they must report it to the College and through the Department of Health system website or via the coronavirus hotline at 1800 675 398.
This is so the school can support you, record that you will be absent while in 7-day isolation and let the rest of the school community know there has been a positive case onsite and that they should monitor for symptoms.
Please note that the College will provide as much support as possible to students who do have to isolate as a result of a COVID diagnosis or via a close contact determination. It is important that students have continuity of learning, particularly those students who are undertaking VCE subjects and in this sense, teachers will provide students with recordings of lessons, class materials and as much online support as possible via SIMON and MS Teams.
The College has received 61 air purifiers, and these will be positioned to maximise their effectiveness for the College community.
In conjunction with Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV), St Patrick’s College has also updated its COVID-19 Safe Plan. This framework sets out our approach for managing safety risks in the College.
As part of this plan and in accordance with CECV advice, a revised process for managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been put in place. Where a student or staff member is identified as a positive case, education contact tracing will no longer be a requirement.
The revised process is set out below:
- Parents/carers should complete the RA Test portal via the Department of Health website if a student tests positive to COVID-19 (via a PCR or rapid antigen test).
- Students who report a positive result must isolate for seven days and not attend school during that period.
- Where a student is a household contact of a positive case (that is, they have spent more than four hours with someone who has COVID-19 inside a house, accommodation, or care facility) they must inform the school and isolate for seven days and not attend school during that period.
- Staff must report the result of a positive test and must isolate for seven days and not attend school during that period.
- Where a staff member is a household contact of a positive case (that is, they have spent more than four hours with someone who has COVID-19 inside a house, accommodation, or care facility) they must inform the school and isolate for seven days and not attend school during that period, unless they are attending under a provided exemption.
- The College will notify the school community (where applicable) when a student or staff member has (or multiple students or staff members) have returned a positive COVID-19 test result and had attended the school. The notification will include dates of attendance, a affected group/cohort/year levels and any relevant extracurricular activities.
- Please ensure that you son refrains from returning to school if they remain symptomatic, unless it is known that their symptoms are caused by an underlying health condition or medication.
All students are expected to attend school onsite unless they are formally registered as being home-schooled. Parent preference is not an approved reason for students to be absent due to COVID-19. Students who are required to isolate or quarantine will be supported in the same way as students with an extended absence due to illness or injury, with learning materials provided to support their continued learning. Schools are not expected to provide a full remote learning program in these circumstances.
As per the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, all staff and students are to wear face masks when indoors. Teachers will be required to always wear masks indoors when not actively teaching. Masks are not compulsory for students and staff outdoors.
Likewise, anyone travelling to and from the College on public transport, taxis or ride-share vehicles must wear a face mask.
Students and staff are also encouraged to use hand sanitizer regularly as they arrive and leave classrooms and other spaces during the day. The College will provide materials for staff to clean and wipe down hard surfaces in classrooms at the end of lessons as an added measure.
The College cleaners will also undertake a more extensive cleaning process of each classroom, including high touch points daily, following CECV cleaning protocols.
Obviously, this was not the start we all hoped for in 2022. Let’s hope and pray that the case numbers continue to go down and the year begins and continues as well as possible for the College community. The College has poured a lot of time into ensuring that we go about our routines as constructively and as safely as we can during the pandemic.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your son’s homeroom teacher or the College office.