The Blog

By / FROM THE PRINCIPAL

An Important Update for our St John’s D.S.G. Community

Dear Parents, 

Last night’s announcement by President Ramaphosa (for those who have not watched or read it, please click on the following link: President Ramaphosa’s Speech) included stringent measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our society. Two key comments contained in our President’s speech are that the greatest dangers to our country at this time are fear and ignorance; and that every institution will need to play its part to ensure that we limit the effects of this pandemic on society. To this end, we wish to join the President in urging all to remain calm, stay informed and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The most reliable, up-to-date resources on COVID-19 remain the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Department of Health, and we urge parents to familiarise themselves with information communicated by these departments as follows: 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 

http://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/ 

https://sacoronavirus.co.za/ or join the WhatsApp #COVID19 group by typing “Hi” to 0600 123 456. 

In light of the above, we have decided to make the following changes to our school programme for the balance of this term, and up until half-term of Term 2. 

Balance of this term: 

  • • School will officially close for the term at 11h30 for Junior School and 12h25 for Senior School on Wednesday, 18 March. There will be Aftercare until 17h00 in the Junior School. 
  • • The normal bus routes from Athlone, Hilton and Howick will run daily before school until Wednesday morning. There will be no buses after school on Wednesday except for boarder transport to Oribi Airport and King Shaka International Airport. 
  • • For the remainder of this week up until Wednesday, 18 March, the daily routine and academic programme will largely continue as planned (with the exception of assemblies, hymn practices, etc., which have been cancelled). Events involving travel to other venues or events on campus involving more than 100 people have been cancelled. 
  • • Boarder parents who are travelling to Pietermaritzburg to collect their children at other schools that have closed early will be allowed to take their daughters home. 
  • • All academic staff will be available at school until 12h30 on Friday, 20 March. 
  • • Our girls’ participation in all sport tours scheduled to take place in the holidays (U14A hockey tournament at TWC on 27-29 March; U16A hockey tour to Bloemhof, Stellenbosch on 22-25 March; 1st team hockey tour to St Mary’s Waverley on 1-6 March and the 1st team netball tour to Camp Discovery in Pretoria on 27-30 March) has been cancelled. 

Information for Senior School Parents 

  • • For daughters of parents who cannot make contingency plans at short notice, there will be venues made available for Senior School girls to work at school on Thursday and Friday. 
  • • Reports for Term 1 will be emailed to parents on Friday, 20 March. Hard copies will not be printed unless requested by parents. Parents with any queries relating to these reports are requested to contact the relevant Grade Head, Subject Teacher or Mr Tyson via email and we will respond to your query. 
  • • Should the school closure need to be extended beyond 14 April, we have contingency plans in place so that we can offer online learning and dissemination of materials to Grade 8-12 girls, and will roll this out should it become necessary to do so. o Microsoft Teams will be the main portal used for this. We will ensure Senior School girls are familiar with their login details before they leave. 
  • o Our Grade 12s will receive particular attention should it be necessary so that they do not fall behind. Arrangements are being made for online teaching and discussion for the Grade 12s, should this be necessary. Please can we appeal to parents who do not have uncapped internet at home to purchase data bundles to accommodate this. 
  • o Training will happen with the girls on Tuesday, 17 March to ensure that everyone is familiar with using MS Teams before the term ends. 
  • o Where no device/internet connectivity is available for your daughters, we will arrange hard copies of notes to be made available and any video clips will be saved onto a storage device for them which you will need to provide. 
  • o Children of all ages are encouraged to read as widely as possible, as much as they can. To this end, library books can be taken home. 
  • o Please make sure that all academic material leaves school with your child so that lessons can continue from home in the event this is required. 

Information for Junior School Parents 

  • • Facilities will be made available for working parents to have their daughter/s supervised at school on Thursday and Friday. Further information regarding this service, with a reply form, will be posted on the School App imminently. 
  • • Contingency teaching plans for Term 2 will be communicated to parents should the school closure need to be extended beyond 14 April. 

Sport & Extramural Activities 

  • • Private sport coaching, music lessons and extramural arrangements must be made between yourselves and the relevant coach or service provider. 

We wish to assure parents that, as stated previously, we are taking all the necessary hygiene precautions in the school. Please can parents ensure that best practices as per the World Health Organisation’s published recommendations are followed at home during the holidays. 

In the event that you or your daughter comes into contact with an identified carrier of the coronavirus during the holidays, please inform the School immediately on info@stjohnsdsg.com so that appropriate arrangements may be made for her return to school next term. 

Term Two: 

Term 2 will begin as normal on 15 April, with boarders returning on 14 April, unless parents and girls are advised otherwise during these holidays. 

We thank parents for their quick responses to the School regarding their planned travel arrangements but understand that in light of the announcements made last night, parents may change proposed international travel plans scheduled for the holidays. Any pupil (or an immediate family member) who proceeds with travels during the holidays to a high- or medium-risk country or region, currently consisting of the European Union (Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal), Iran, South Korea, the United States, United Kingdom or China, should inform the school, and comply with the government’s requirements for testing and self-quarantine. They will also be required to provide a medical clearance certificate no less than 24 hours prior to their return to school. It is anticipated that the government will continually review and update travel alerts as the situation evolves, so those who plan to travel must keep themselves updated with these alerts. 

At this stage, we have cancelled all non-essential functions, outings, tours, etc. for the first half of the second term as a precautionary measure. Some events may be re-instated, depending on the circumstances next term. Sports practices scheduled for Term 2 will continue as planned, but fixtures will be suspended until further notice. We will send out a revised calendar for next term by the end of the week. 

There is currently insufficient information available with regards to the proposed World Choir Games in July. The school is consulting with the Games organisers and tour operator this week and will communicate these developments to parents as soon as possible. 

Together with our President, we urge parents, girls and staff to stand together and face this challenge with truth, courage, understanding and compassion, and to respond positively to the President’s call for common action. We thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation with the changes that have been put in place and commit to keeping our community updated and informed about any changes that may affect your daughter. 

Regards

SIMON MOORE

PRINCIPAL

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.