March 18 – College Update on COVID-19

March 19, 2020

Dear all members of the St Patrick’s College community,

You are all probably aware that Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this morning that schools will remain open at this stage. This decision by the Federal Government, in unison with all State and Territory Governments, follows the advice of Chief Medical Officers that to close schools may well do more harm than good as society struggles with the changes being wrought upon us by the COVID-19 coronavirus.

For the community of St Patrick’s College, it means that classes continue as planned at this stage while the future of all other co-curricular and external activities are determined on a case-by-case basis.

It is our intention to provide daily updates to staff, students and parents regarding any decisions made.

Some of the decisions made in recent days include:

  • The postponement of the planned production of Matilda which was due to be performed in May. We hope this production can be rescheduled later in the year.
  • The Year 9 Social – also held in conjunction with Loreto College – has also been postponed to a date to be determined.
  • The scheduled 1st XVIII football match against Caulfield Grammar on April 15 has been cancelled.

Staff are meeting daily to plan lessons in an online environment should the school be forced to close at any stage. A full information service for parents and students around this will be published in the next edition of the Crest newsletter which will be emailed to parents on Friday, March 20.

We again remind all parents too that anyone who has returned to Australia from any other country since midnight on Sunday, March 15 is now required to isolate for 14 days. This will also impact all members of our community who are still intending to travel overseas during the coming school holidays.

It is understandable that many in our community are experiencing great stress and anxiety as the coronavirus crisis worsens.

With that in mind we thought we would share the following edited excerpt from a memo circulated by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria to principals this week. It provides good advice and links to very valuable resources at this time.

“Supporting school communities
We are all aware that some people in our school communities have heightened levels of concern and anxiety regarding the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

These thoughts and feelings are normal and understandable.

Most adults and children will be able to manage these feelings through being resilient and practising positive coping skills.

However, some may feel overwhelmed and unable to adequately express their concerns. This may result in escalated levels of distress or worry.

Conversations with children and young people
Families and caregivers of children and young people should discuss news of the virus with those in their care in an open and honest way.

Try to relate the facts without causing alarm, and in a way that is appropriate for their age and temperament.

It is important to listen to any questions they may have, and to let them know that they are safe and that it’s normal to feel concerned.

If the media or the news is getting to be too much for them, encourage them to limit their exposure.

A range of key resources, including videos and tips for young people, have been collated to help promote ongoing wellbeing and good health across your school community:

Try to maintain a practical and calm approach
While families are the main source of comfort and information, school staff play a key role in supporting and reassuring children and young people. Familiarity, predictability and stability in the school environment enhance children’s sense of safety and capacity to manage emotional responses. Refer to:

Online safety
The eSafety Commissioner website provides information for parents/families about child safety best practice online, including:

  • supervising young people using technology
  • privacy for young people in the online world.”

We thank all in our community for your ongoing support of St Patrick’s College at this time.