‘Unprecedented’ – my dictionary tells me that this word means “never done or known before”. What an apt word this is. Everything about this week has been unprecedented. My decision making, problems I have had to solve, the anxiety I see around me (including my own), the thought of closing the school for an indefinite period of time, children using technology to talk to their teacher and classmates, hand-washing lessons, cancelling events and gatherings, Chapel on-line, parents working from home, a footy game without a crowd in the stadium, 0.25% interest rates, panic buying in the supermarkets… and so much more. No doubt, you too are feeling the pressure of these unprecedented times.
What I do know for sure.
As we head into the weekend, and face another uncertain week, there are many things that I am feeling very positive about and which give me great confidence. To start with, the sun will come up each day and with it, I hold on to the knowledge that God’s love is with us and His blessings are new every morning.
To close or not to close our campus
The commentary on whether schools should be closed has been intense. Opinions are divided, health officials are divided, world leaders are divided, Principals I know are divided. Facebook posts present opposing and often extreme views. This all adds to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. As parents, you worry if you are making the right decision about sending your child to school. This is why we are working doubly hard to have systems and structures (at present) to support and empower you in making the decision to do what you believe is best for your family and personal circumstances.
So, if we commence school next week ‘open’ – we are ready for teaching and learning, 'business as usual'.
Or, if we commence school next week ‘campus closed’ – we are confident we are ready for Off Campus Learning and it's 'business as usual'.
For as long as the campus remains open please support my teachers and staff. Please be patient with us, be supportive, express your appreciation and gratitude. Do not send your child to school if they have cold or flu symptoms. Do not argue with us, if we call you to collect your child please answer your phone. These are scary days for us all, and my staff are making many sacrifices, putting your child’s needs ahead of their own needs and often before the needs of their family.
Thank you to the wonderful mother who offered to buy some groceries for our staff. You have no idea how encouraging your kind gesture was.
There’s Strength and Safety in our Community
I am strengthened by the thought that the Claremont College school community has lived through many times of significant crisis in the past. Our school song begins with the line … “Since 1882 we’ve stood”. This school has lived through the fears associated with the ANZAC years, the Great Depression, WW2, 9/11 and other crises that have threatened the heart of our community. Through these times, strength, faith and hope have prevailed. There is safety in this place.
In all of the uncertainty that we are facing, I believe that one of the greatest threats we are facing is a lack of connectedness. Phrases such as ‘social distancing’, ‘quarantining’ and ‘isolation’ all tear at the heart of what it means to be human. People need people. Our kids need each other, which is one of the benefits of keeping schools open. I see them play, laugh, learn and interact together each day, and in this I’m reminded why I love my job. We must understand that reaching out to each other, staying in touch, checking in and asking “are you okay?” is more than ever a shared responsibility. And do please reach out to us if you need help.
As we head into next week and beyond, I am confident that we have systems ready to provide connection, safety, support, and interaction. We will be focusing on ways to allow us to thrive in a new normal. Please follow this link to access the document ‘Communication Guide for Parents’ which will assist you in the event of a campus closure.
Conversations and Empathy
As we stay connected, we must prioritise healthy, positive and respectful conversations. Please be mindful on your parent What’s App chats, that you are speaking to a wide audience. It is disappointing to hear that some people have been upset by unhelpful, incorrect facts, and anxiety inducing comments.
Over the past few weeks I have prioritised the need to be at the gate, welcoming children and chatting with parents. It’s been great to talk with many mums and dads. For as long as school remains open, I shall endeavour to be at the gate every morning and afternoon, so please drop by if you’d like to chat.
In our conversations with others, let’s seek to listen, understand, hold no judgement, empathise, and be a source of strength, comfort and reassurance to each other.
God does not change
With things changing by the day, the hour, the minute, I am strengthened and comforted in the knowledge that God does not change. He is our ever-present help in times of trouble and nothing can separate us from His love.
So I am ready! I’m ready for another ‘unprecedented’ week and season ahead.
I am ready for the unprecedented new ways for children to learn and engage with the world and each other. I am ready for unprecedented opportunities for connecting and engaging in helpful and constructive conversations across our school community. I am ready for opportunities to demonstrate unprecedented love, and unprecedented opportunities to creatively devise for good works, acts of compassion and helping each other. I am ready for experiencing God’s love (that casts out fear), and knowing His peace (that passes all understanding), in new and unprecedented ways.
We are in this together.
My prayers and love are with you all.