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Oakhill News
Letter from our Head of College – 26 May 2020

Letter from our Head of College – 26 May 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Caregivers, Students and Teachers
Reopening of school

It was with much anticipation that South Africa heard last week that schools would reopen and the country would move to a Level 3 from 1 June. I am sure everyone is quite excited to have a bigger timeframe to exercise especially with the sudden change in weather.

We are still waiting for written confirmation that independent schools can take a different approach to the phasing in of grades once schools open from 1 June. Notwithstanding, we have only planned for the matrics to return onto campus from 1 June till 18 June for their test series. For the other grades in the College we are planning to start phasing them in from the third term.

It is important to note that our school experience for the rest of the year is going to look different. We are also mindful that each family, student, and teacher has unique circumstances that may impact their response to Covid-19 and they may not be able to return to school in the third term. In addition, 17% of our parents surveyed at the end of April indicated that they would prefer to keep their children at home. This may change as several parents indicated that they are monitoring the trajectory of Covid-19 in the Knysna area as well as the different lockdown levels. With this in mind, the College will be delivering a dual approach in the third term whereby students can access online teaching and learning from home as well as from the school campus. This provides parents the opportunity to make a decision best suited to their family circumstances.

As a community we need to be aware that Covid-19 is still a reality even with the lockdown restrictions slowly being lifted. This has been emphasized by recent information received by the school of a College student’s family member that has tested positive for the virus with everyone currently in isolation. All of us will need to constantly reflect on how our behaviour can contribute to the spread of the virus. Thus, it is imperative, when students and staff return to campus, that they comply with the Covid-19 protocols and procedures that form part of the school’s Health and Safety compliance strategy and workplace plan for Covid-19 that has been developed over the last month.

These will be communicated before each grade returns and includes, and not limited to, information around procedures for arrivals and collections, screening, orientation and classroom allocations, physical distancing requirements, good hygiene practices, etc. It is also important that the students have a minimum of two cloth masks of the correct standard and that fit comfortably as they will be required to wear them the whole day.

We acknowledge that these Covid-19 procedures and protocols are certainly going to require some getting used to, and are quite inconvenient; however, it is in the best interest of all of us and the broader community to adhere to these and I respectfully ask that we all work together on ensuring the health and safety of everyone.

June/ July holidays

We are planning to close as per schedule on 19 June with reports issued the following week on Tuesday 23 June. Please note that online teaching and learning will take place on the public holiday of 16 June to complete a full academic cycle before the end of the term. As we have made steady academic progress in the second term, the school will reopen as per schedule on Tuesday 14 July for the third term. We may call the matrics in a few days before if any remediation is required or for work that still needs to be covered. This will be communicated at the end of the term.

Looking back it has certainly been a whirlwind of events over the last two and a half months – from the initial training of teachers to tackle online teaching, to the tentative start in the second term, to the steady momentum we find ourselves in now. We would like to thank our parents for the incredible support they
have provided their children with this new adventure into online learning and teaching. We look forward to their continued support as we cautiously and gradually start reopening the school.

Warm regards,
Wayne Purchase
Head of College

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