Dear parents and caregivers
I am writing to update you on the ongoing response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 across the education sector.
These are unprecedented times for schooling systems and you can be assured that all Queensland state schools are working closely with the Department of Education as we respond to this significant and evolving public health issue.
Thank you for your support and understanding our school and the broader education community manage the impact of COVID-19.
I also acknowledge the excellent work being done by teachers and support staff in our school in ensuring your children are safe and continuing their learning during this difficult time.
As you may have heard in his press conference on 22 March 2020, the Prime Minister reiterated the view that schools are an essential part of our community and should remain open. This continues to be the advice of Australia's chief health officers.
Leaders agreed that we cannot see children lose up to an entire year of their education as a result of possible school closures caused by COVID-19.
From Tuesday 24 March, Queensland state school parents and caregivers will be offered a choice as to how their children receive their learning.
State schools will remain open and parents and caregivers can send their children to school in the knowledge they will be safe.
If, however, you wish to keep your children home from school, you may do so. If you choose to keep your children at home, learning materials will be available on the Department of Education's new learning@home website (qld.gov.au/learningathome). This website has downloadable learning materials, tips for parents and links to other well-regarded, free education websites that parents and caregivers and their children can use.
If you choose to keep your child at home, you must be responsible for them. You must ensure they stay at home and that they continue their learning using the material and websites that you can access online.
As is always the case, I ask parents and caregivers to let our school know if your child will not be attending school, for how long and the reason why.
If you choose to keep your child home due to concerns about COVID-19 you can be assured that you have made an acceptable decision.
You may have seen media reports last week that claim Education Queensland is 'cracking down' on parents who choose not to send their children to school due to COVID-19 concerns and that you are risking prosecution if you have made this decision.
The Department of Education has assured all schools that this is incorrect.
As outlined above, if you choose to keep your children at home, you can access materials available on the department's learning@home website (qld.gov.au/learningathome) or other websites with curriculum materials. These materials have been available from the department for times when children have not attended school for extended periods.
As you would be aware, schools have been asked to change routines and some specific planned activities over the last few weeks to assist in managing the spread of COVID-19.
- ceasing all international school/departmental travel for students and teachers;
- postponing or cancelling external school activities such as fetes, concerts, fairs, etc.;
- in schools of greater than 500 students, stopping full school assemblies, arranging staggered lunch breaks where possible and rescheduling other large in-school student gatherings and events.
Schools have also been asked to postpone or cancel all school trips, camps and excursions including interschool and representative school sport competitions as a further step in reducing the risk of transmission in our schools and communities.
I can assure all parents and caregivers that during this time we are paying close attention to the cleaning of our schools. Queensland schools have excellent, dedicated cleaners and the department has provided them with additional advice on cleaning techniques since the onset of COVID-19.
To support this work the Government has also increased the amount of cleaning in Queensland state schools in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our schools will be able to provide additional time to cleaners to enable them to pay extra attention to high touch point surfaces such as door handles, light switches, desks, toilets, taps and sinks.
Teachers at our school have also been focusing on the importance of effective hand and sneeze/cough hygiene with students.
Parents and caregivers can also access this information, which includes Queensland Health's Six Steps to Successful Handwashing available at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/444314/handwash-6steps.pdf posters and a 20 second routine video that you can watch with your children, which is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpmB80pWUsk&feature
I sincerely thank parents and caregivers for the support you are giving your children and for the understanding you are showing to our school staff as they respond to this unique situation. It is important we continue to ensure our schools are safe and positive places for our children during these challenging times.
As always, the health and wellbeing of your children, and our staff, remain our focus.
We continue to take advice from Queensland Health in relation to this matter and the latest information is available on the Queensland Health website at www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19.
It is likely that these circumstances will be in place for many months ahead and we will all continue to work together in the interest of our schools and our school communities.
COVID-19 and Thornlands SS
As you are no doubt aware the situation around COVID-19 is changing and evolving very quickly. All parents should have already received two letters from me, with regards to this situation overall.
These letters are provided to us by the government to assist us in keeping parents as updated as possible with general developments pertaining to your children in school.
The following is additional information which is specific to Thornlands SS and decisions and actions taken here, at a local level, in response to the evolving situation.
In the interests of keeping our staff and students as safe and healthy as possible, to date the following are decisions/actions we have taken here at Thornlands:
- We have provided significant additional supplies of soap in every classroom and continue to attempt to source hand sanitiser for classrooms.
- Soap supplies in the toilets are checked and topped up every day.
- Year 6 Camp, which was to take place from 16-18 March, has been postponed until late in the year (Date TBA).
- Year 1 Excursion to Lone Pine on 18 March has been cancelled.
- Whole school Assemblies have been cancelled until further notice.
- To maintain the continuity of teaching and learning, just in case the school should need to close down for a period of time, teachers are already working on preparing a basic home learning overview for each year level. We are seeking to keep these as simple as possible in order to remove any unnecessary burden on parents should you need to implement them and we will be distributing this whole school overview sooner, rather than later, to ensure that, as parents, you are prepared should the situation change quickly and/or unexpectedly .
- These overviews will utilise student textbooks including Maths Plus, New Wave Mentals, Soundwaves and Qld Handwriting; also online programs Wushka and Mathletics. (Teachers will ensure all students have up to date logins for these programs).
- In addition, The Department of Education has set up a webpage (which will be linked on our overview) with an excellent range of worksheets and activities that can be accessed by parents at home, in addition to what we will supply, if circumstances require it.
Unfortunately the next few weeks were to be event filled here at Thornlands and due to the evolving situation the following events will be cancelled or postponed:
- Parent Teacher Night Tuesday 24 March
- Year 4 Stradbroke Excursion Wednesday 25 March
- Whole School Cross Country Tuesday 31 March
- Easter Bonnet Parade Friday 3 April
- School Anzac Day Assembly Friday 24 April
Please note that any monies paid for any of the above will be placed as a credit against the students account and used for any cost in the future (ie future excursions or incursions).
This situation is unprecedented for all of us, however I am sure that working together as a school community we will work our way through this as calmly as possible.
Already I am very impressed at the resilience and common sense that is being demonstrated by our students and that is undoubtedly a testament to the adults – both at home and at school- that are providing them with such positive role modelling.
We will continue to keep you updated as things evolve and change.
Thank you as always for your support of our great school,
Click here to view COVID-19 Update - A special message from the Principal