22 April 2020

Community COVID-19 Update #7

As always, I hope this correspondence finds you all in good health and positive spirits. I know some families have been harder hit than others, but I’m sure everyone is affected in some way or another. Be assured you are in my constant thoughts and, as a leadership group, we are trying our best to effect the best possible outcomes in our decision-making.

As I wrote to you on Monday, CBC Fremantle will be open for its students from Wednesday 29 April.

Year 11 and 12 students

We will be offering face-to-face teaching for boys in Years 11 and 12. The Premier has ‘strongly encouraged’ parents of students in those years to send their children to school. As a result, our preparations are anticipating most, if not all, students in the upper years to return. For boys in Years 11 and 12, they will resume their prescribed timetables from Wednesday morning. Although I have not received every teaching staff member’s return intention, every response I have received thus far has indicated the teachers of upper school will be returning either in a full-time capacity, or at the minimum, to take their Year 11 and 12 classes. This should provide some easing of anxiety for the boys, for you the parents and for the staff who share your hope that the boys suffer the least possible disruption in their learning.

For the sons of parents who are reticent in sending their Year 11 or 12 son to school at the moment, the following will apply:

  • If a student is absent from face-to-face lessons, the teacher will use Teams to video their lesson and present it live to the students at home. They point their laptop at the Whiteboard (reasonably close so it is easy to read). They start the conference call with the students at home with a recording running and conduct the lesson as per normal with the class receiving a face-to-face lesson and the absent boys viewing it live. After the lesson, all students have the ability to replay the lesson. During the lesson, the teacher and absent students should have the chat function running so they can ask questions without disrupting the lesson. Please be aware this may not be possible for some practical classes. eg. Woodwork, Metalwork.
  • Boys in Year 11 or 12 whose teacher may be working from home will be supervised in their scheduled room, hopefully by a teacher of the same learning area, while the teacher at home remotely delivers the lesson. The teacher records the lesson which the entire class can replay if they wish and then ask any follow-up questions via the Team Chat.

Please contact the College if you are choosing to keep your Year 11 or 12 son home so that we can ensure he understands the above arrangements.

As is the minimum standard at CBC Fremantle, all lessons will continue to appear on SEQTA. Our Staff PD Day on Tuesday 28 April will focus on ensuring Year 11 and 12 students get back to normal studies as quickly as possible.

Information about Semester 1 exams will be relayed to you and your sons as soon as possible. Clearly, this moveable feast makes any long-term planning a little fragile, but in ballpark terms it was the view of the CLT that these exams should occur about a week later than was originally planned on the calendar. This extra week would be devoted to revision and making sure that the boys have been given every opportunity to catch up on any gaps that may have resulted over the past month.

As I have mentioned previously, social distancing at school, and especially on our site, is extremely challenging. Mr McDonnell is currently re-rooming classes with bigger numbers to larger rooms, or in some cases double rooms. We will also be establishing quarantined areas for teachers. I’m sure your sons will rise to the occasion and do their best to support their teachers’ health.

Year 7-10 students

For parents of boys in Years 7 to 10, CBC Fremantle will continue to provide online learning, with a couple of improvements for boys whose parents choose to keep at home. Mr Gary Bailey is sending a separate survey to parents in Years 7 to 10 that I need you to complete ASAP so as to assist in making the best possible preparation for your son’s return to school. It is not my role to instruct families what they should do in terms of whether or not you send your sons to school; I strongly believe that the people who know what’s best for their children are the parents. That being said, I hope you have always found me to be open and honest about my thinking and intentions.

The next month should see some clarity with the COVID-19 pandemic and its transmission potential in Western Australia. Much of the adult anxiety, parents and staff, revolves around the near impossible task of trying to socially distance in schools. The four square metre rule does not apply in schools apparently, but it does exist in the heads of adults who are told it applies everywhere else. Our logistical arrangements will be aimed at trying to alleviate and control these anxieties as best we can. Any logistical complication will be ameliorated somewhat if some parents exercise their right to keep their sons at home. If you feel that the online learning has not been suited to your son’s learning style or self-management, or his social isolation has been detrimental to his mental health, I strongly encourage you to send him to school. Conversely, if you have noticed he has adapted well to the online learning world and have the capacity to keep him home without that being detrimental to your family’s routine and wellbeing, I will let you read between the lines and make the decision that best suits your son and your family.

Boys in Years 7-10 who are returning

Depending on the numbers, it is our intention to try and group these boys as best suits the year group and the facilities available. The Gymnasium, for example, may be considered as a venue for supervising boys. They will be continuing with their online learning at school and they will not be on verandahs as has been suggested. Supervision will be provided, but that teacher may not be from the learning area the boys might be studying at that time. There will still be at least one Teams tutorial for each of the following subjects in Years 7 to 10 - Mathematics, English, HASS, Science and Religious Education. We will also look to provide some socially distanced physical activity during the day in order to provide balance.

Boys in Years 7-10 who will continue with online learning from home

Clearly, this category of boys needs the least explanation other than to say we will have at least one Teams tutorial per subject and two Mentor Group Teams sessions per week.

In conclusion, there are signs that the sacrifices made by all Western Australians are bearing fruit with regard the containment of COVID-19. Many of our families have been impacted terribly, and economically the worst may be still ahead for them and other members of our community. I sincerely hope that our community is spared the health effects -- physical, emotional and mental. Please make sure you reach out if you need.

Other information, academic, pastoral and logistical, will be forwarded in the next few days to you and your sons. I have also attached the briefing notes I received from Dr Sayce which will give you a CEWA perspective on how Term 2 arrangements are being handled. Remember, I am a phone call away if you need me.

With love,

Mr Domenic Burgio