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Important Information regarding COVID-19

Page last updated – 27 March

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27 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

As the school term draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to sign off as Acting Principal as well as provide some guidance to families on the plans for the start of Term 2.

The School is currently in Phase One of implementation for our Continuous Learning Plan. At this stage, our focus is on the design and delivery of asynchronous learning engagements, that do not require teachers and students to be online at the same time. As our families are experiencing high levels of disruption at home due to the spread of COVID-19, this is an essential part of our plan to ensure equity of access. Importantly, Phase One is also providing the school with the opportunity to test the new systems and structures we have put in place to support this alternate mode of education. In particular, we needed to ensure our IT infrastructure could support the increasing level of demand. We are keen to ensure that each child has access to educational materials and support while our physical campuses are closed. This survey is designed to help Woodleigh School understand what resources families need during this time. We would be very grateful if you could complete this over the next few days.

We will be implementing the second phase of our Continuous Learning Plan early in Term 2. This next phase will include the introduction of synchronous learning engagements, providing opportunities for students to participate in engagements with their teachers and classmates at an established time to allow for interactions in real time. As part of our planning for the approach, we are currently working through the technical, practical and legal requirements for Phase Two, so we are able to expand our provision in a safe, effective and sustainable manner. Further advice regarding the move to Phase Two will be available to the community towards the end of the holiday break.

In light of Stage 2 government restrictions we have now closed the gates to all three campuses. A very small skeleton staff will continue to work at the Senior Campus on ‘essential’ work but the campus will be closed to the broader Woodleigh community until restrictions are lifted. Parents can continue to contact School Reception on 5971 6100 or by email using office@woodleigh.vic.edu.au.Many of our non-teaching staff will continue to work from home during the Easter holidays.

We will continue to monitor the government advice and updates, communicating the implications for the School to families as soon as possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to direct families to some of the support services that have been set up by the Australian Government:

Parents may also be interested to view this video from Dr Arne Rubinstein from The Rites of Passage Institute on parenting in a time of crisis. Many of you will recall that Arne ran a session at Senior Campus in March last year as part of our Parent Education series.

The incoming Principal David Baker has been generously supporting the School over the last few weeks whilst also dealing with the COVID-19 issue at Gippsland Grammar. We had originally scheduled that the handover between David and me would be Monday 6 April but, unsurprisingly, David’s holiday plans have changed and I’m handing over the baton today to give David clear water to take over as Principal. I will continue to be heavily involved with the COVID-19 response of course as Head of Senior Campus before moving on at the end of Term 2. Keep an eye out for communication from David in due course.

We thank you again for your support and understanding during this time and hope that families can still enjoy the Easter holidays under these challenging circumstances.

David Burton 
Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus

25 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

Following recent announcements by the Victorian State Premier on Stage 2 restrictions on non-essential venues and activities, I wish to advise families of the updated working arrangements across the three Woodleigh School campuses. 

We have been thrilled with the support we’ve received from families and students regarding our Continuous Learning Plan. Our learning programs have continued to be delivered to all students this week, with nearly 98% of students from Years 7 to 12 checking in with Homestead Tutors this morning. Minimbah and Penbank teachers have also reported very high engagement over the last two days. 

We have been able to keep some non-teaching staff onsite across the three campuses this week. However, in light of the new Stage 2 restrictions announcement, we will be closing the physical Minimbah and Penbank campuses from 5pm today. A small, skeleton staff will continue to work from the Senior Campus on ‘essential’ work, but we will not be able to provide onsite service to families or students at Senior Campus after 5pm tomorrow (Thursday). Parents can continue to contact School Reception on 5971 6100 or by email using office@woodleigh.vic.edu.au . Many of our non-teaching staff will continue to work from home during the Easter holidays, while our teaching staff will, of course, continue to be in contact and delivering our Continuous Learning Plan before breaking for the holidays this Friday. 

We will continue to monitor government advice and updates, communicating the implications for the School to families as soon as possible. 

We thank you again for your support and understanding during this time. 

David Burton 
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

​23 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

Following the Victorian State Government’s announcement yesterday that all government schools in Victoria will be closing to students from tomorrow (Tuesday), I want to provide some clarity to families on the arrangements across the three Woodleigh School campuses.

The decision to close the physical premises to students last week and provide time for teachers to plan for the implementation of the Continuous Learning Plan has proved enormously beneficial. I am pleased to confirm that all three campuses are able to deliver our learning programs to all students this week through the implementation of the Plan. We will be breaking for the Easter school holidays as scheduled after Friday.

We have had a very successful first day of the Continuous Learning Plan for Senior Campus students today, with over 90% of students from Years 7 to 12 checking in with Homestead tutors at the start of the day. Our secondary tutors will again be sending ‘Direct Messages’ from SEQTA to their tutor groups tomorrow morning. We hope to get closer to 100% tomorrow. Junior Campus class teachers will also be connecting with their students.

We ask families again to please check the Continuous Learning Plan website for an overview of expectations as well as guidelines for parents. We ask respectfully please that parents also adhere to the guidance around non-essential travel and social distancing; further resources can also be found on the site. We have sent out further program-specific guidance to all families this afternoon, with more detail about the learning experiences at each section of the School. The information for VCE Units 3 and 4 has drawn on the latest VCAA updates.

We continue to be very appreciative of the support and understanding of the Woodleigh community as we grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak. We look forward to the time when we reopen our campuses. We will continue to monitor the situation in the days and weeks ahead. 

We thank you again for your patience and understanding during this time and will continue to provide regular updates to families.

David Burton
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

17 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

An Extraordinary School Leadership Team meeting was held this evening in conjunction with the School Board to review our School’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and to prepare for the introduction of the Continuous Learning Plan in the event of the physical closure of our campuses to students. The purpose of this letter is to provide a summary of the key decisions of that meeting and to provide further detail on the Continuous Learning Plan following our letter to families yesterday.

The School Leadership Team has reluctantly taken the decision to move to the Continuous Learning Plan from Monday 23 March. In order to finalise staff preparation for the transition and to secure all online learning services,

• our Senior Campus will close to students from 3.45pm tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March

• the School’s Minimbah and Penbank campuses will close to students from 3.30pm on Thursday 19 March.

The COVID-19 outbreak poses an unprecedented challenge to our community and we have been very grateful for the support and understanding of parents, students and staff as we grapple with this situation. We have sought expert external advice throughout this process. Although Woodleigh has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19, this decision was influenced by the surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria as well as the Victorian Government' s decision to declare a State of Emergency. We are also mindful of the advice regarding social distancing as a mitigation measure and we would encourage you to refer to the guidance here. The staggered timetable of student closure reflects the different dynamics of the Senior and Junior campuses and our recognition that families with younger children will need more time to arrange suitable supervision arrangements at home.

This message is the second in a series of communications for families that describes our approach to providing an alternative means of education through implementation of the Continuous Learning Plan. While the School's Continuous Learning Plan does not intend to replicate onsite learning, it does ensure that our staff can continue to deliver rich teaching and learning experiences that are in line with our Woodleigh values and learning principles. These experiences offer authentic opportunities to focus on the development of knowledge, concepts, and skills for all of our students from ECC through to Year 12.

When the plan is activated, we will continue to provide learning programs for our students through the delivery of on-screen and off-screen learning experiences that help connect students to previous learning and the current curriculum. During the early weeks of our implementation, teachers will focus attention on the design and delivery of asynchronous learning engagements. An asynchronous learning environment is one that does not require teachers and students to be online at the same time. Since we anticipate that the pattern of social disruption caused by the spread of COVID-19 will have an impact upon family routines and arrangements, this is an essential part of our Continuous Learning Plan.

The second phase of implementation for the plan will include the introduction of synchronous learning engagements. A synchronous learning environment provides opportunities for students to participate in engagements with their teachers and classmates at an established time to allow for interactions in real time. The decision to move from phase one to phase two of the plan will be informed by the evolving landscape for COVID-19 and its related impact on us.

Additional information about the school’s Continuous Learning Plan will continue to be released over the days ahead. A dedicated website has been developed to support the implementation of the plan and will be shared with parents and students by close of business this Friday. Senior Campus staff will be using Thursday and Friday to finalise preparations for the transition to the plan, with asynchronous learning to commence from next Monday. Junior Campus staff will be using Friday and Monday for the transition to the plan, with asynchronous learning to commence from next Tuesday.

While the school appreciates that families will continue to have many questions about this topic, we ask for your support in holding off on further enquiries until after the full release of information to the school community.

While we understand that this decision will cause inconvenience to families, we have been heartened by the support and well wishes of the Woodleigh community during this challenging time. We thank you again for your patience and understanding.

Vanessa Gabriel  
Chair of the Board

David Burton  
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

Richard Owens  
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation


16 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh Families,

This message is the first in a series of communications for families that will describe our commitment to providing an alternative means of education in the form of the Woodleigh School Continuous Learning Plan.

The plan provides detail about how the school’s learning programs will continue in a scenario where we are required to physically close our campuses. 

It reflects our belief that,

  • as a community, we should think differently in order to effectively respond to challenging circumstances, and
  • be prepared to embrace new opportunities to support student learning.

While the school’s Continuous Learning Plan does not intend to replicate onsite learning, it does ensure that our staff can continue to deliver rich teaching and learning experiences that are in line with our Woodleigh values and learning principles.

In the event of our campuses being closed, we will engage students with learning experiences that continue our planned programs, and help them stay connected with teachers and classmates. These experiences offer authentic opportunities to focus on the development of knowledge, concepts, and skills for all of our students from ECC through to Year 12.

These experiences will continue to combine the focus on academic learning, student engagement, and wellbeing that is at the heart of a Woodleigh Education. We will provide a balance of on-screen and off-screen tasks that help connect students to previous learning and the current curriculum.

As you will be aware, the School Leadership Team has been closely monitoring the rapidly evolving landscape for the COVID-19 virus over recent weeks. While this unprecedented situation will present many challenges for our community, please be assured that our school and academic leadership teams have been diligently working to consider a variety of possible scenarios. Our aim has been to ensure we are prepared to offer a full range of support for students, parents and families in the weeks ahead. During this time, a clear priority for our work has been making preparations to ensure that learning for our students can continue beyond the physical closure of our campuses.

Additional information about the school’s Continuous Learning Plan will be released over the course of the week and, as required, in response to the rapidly evolving community context in which we live. A dedicated website has been developed to support the implementation of the plan and will soon go live for the school community. In the next message for families, we will provide further advice about how to access the site, along with detail about how we can best support each other, in the case that the school needs to implement the plan.

While the school appreciates that families will have many questions about this topic, we ask for your support in holding off on further enquiries until after the next release of information to the school community.

We thank you again for your patience and support at this challenging time.

David Burton
Acting Principal – Head of Senior Campus

Richard Owens
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation



14 March 2020

​Dear Woodleigh families,

I wanted to give an update to all families, with additional guidance on COVID-19 following further information over the last few days. I am grateful for your patience as we navigate this evolving and complex situation.

Woodleigh’s Exposure to COVID-19

I want to reassure families that, to the best of our knowledge, no member of the Woodleigh community (staff, student or parent) has tested positive for COVID-19, despite some rumours and misinformation being spread. If you believe that you or household members are beginning to show symptoms of the virus or if someone with whom you have had close contact has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must notify the School immediately and take all necessary medical advice.   

Latest Advice

Following meetings with state premiers, senior ministers and health authorities, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that ‘non-essential’ organised mass gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned across Australia from Monday in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. Schools and universities are not included in the ban and consequently the three campuses of Woodleigh will be open for business on Monday. However, the situation has been fluid since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global pandemic and recently within Victoria we have seen the closure of several schools and the release of a COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for the Victorian Health Sector by the Victorian Government. As advice changes, we will continue to keep our community informed through direct communication, as well as through the school’s web site.

Resources

We are also adding resources and links to the web site. Here you will find the latest information from organisations such as the Department of Health, Smartraveller and the Department of Education along with copies of our most recent direct correspondence. You may also find this video from psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg particularly useful when discussing COVID-19 with children at home.

Potential School Closure

Over the coming days and weeks, we will continue to provide additional guidance as the likelihood of a school closure increases. It is important that we continue to develop our contingency plan should a school closure be required.

Should a member of our community test positive this would result in an immediate closure of the school. Any decision regarding the large-scale closure of schools will be made by the Victorian Department of Education.

A school closure would mean a shift to Online Learning. A lot of work is being done in the background to develop an Online Learning Plan, which will provide guidance to families and students and recommendations for staff, students and their parents. Students have been advised to take home all devices and resources. They should then only bring in the resources they require for a specific school day. In the event of school closure, we will, in all likelihood, implement a transition period of 2-3 days to support staff and may possibly also introduce a student-free day for Senior Campus staff to support this transition. Advance notice will be given if this occurs. Senior Campus will operate a normal class timetable on Tuesday 17th March following the postponement of parent-student teacher sessions.

School Events

At this stage, all School excursions and incursions across the three campuses for the remainder of Term 1 have been cancelled, including those scheduled as part of the Senior Campus ‘Activities’ program. The Year 10 Hattah camp, planned for departure next week has also been cancelled, with the School investigating future opportunities with our external providers. Year 10 students should attend school as usual during Weeks 8 and 9, whether at school or online in the event of school closure.  As we continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation closely, arrangements for Term 2 events may change and we will continue to review those in the days and weeks ahead.

Health and Hygiene

Please refer to the guidance provided in my last letter home.

Travel Advice

The Australian Government is actively discouraging ‘non-essential’ overseas travel and I would encourage families to exercise great caution if travelling abroad over the Easter holiday period. The school has now also ceased overseas exchange programs for the foreseeable future.

Families should make sure that any child returning from mainland China  from 1 February, Iran from 1 March, Republic of Korea from 5 March, or Italy from 11 March, is isolated at home and should not attend school until 14 days after they were last in mainland China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy. This advice also applies to any impacted staff.

We also require members of the community to notify us if they have also been in close proximity with someone who has returned from mainland China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy. We have been advised that we need to make a full risk assessment on anyone who has been in direct contact with someone returning from any of these 4 countries, particularly someone within their household.

Communication

I will continue to communicate on a regular basis with the school community via email, as will Junior Heads of Campus. Please pay close attention to emails as well as SMS updates. We have set up a dedicated email account for family enquiries regarding the virus. Parents email covid19response@woodleigh.vic.edu.au with any information or questions relating to COVID-19.

Please follow normal procedures with regard to student absence notifications. Please contact Reception before 9.30am on any day of absence.

Many thanks again for your support during this very challenging time.

DAVID BURTON 
Acting Principal– Head of Senior Campus



10 March 2020

Dear Woodleigh community,

Earlier this term I wrote to all families with guidance on the Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

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You will be aware that, at the time of writing, there are well in excess of 100,000 cases of Coronavirus reported around the globe.  Consequently, the School is planning for scenarios that are no longer merely a hypothetical. We will continue to be operating in a very fluid and changing environment. Our role is to remain balanced in our outlook and continue to make decisions focusing on the welfare of our students based on the most recent available information.  You may also find the attached information from our Employee Assistance Program helpful.

We have, since the outbreak was confirmed, followed Australian Government, Department of Health, Department of Education and Training and Independent Schools Victoria updates. The following mandates will be followed by the School as per protocols laid out by regulatory authorities.   

Students or staff cannot attend school or preschool if they have:

  • left, or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days from leaving mainland China)
  • left, or transited through Iran on or after 1 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Iran)
  • left, or transited through the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving the Republic of Korea)
  • left, or transited through Italy on or after 11 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Italy)
  • been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).

If you are returning from these countries, you need to monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you believe that you are beginning to show symptoms of the virus, please contact your GP immediately. If you, or someone with whom you have had close contact with, has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please notify the School immediately and take all necessary medical advice.   

In order to minimise any risk to our school community the following is provided for your information. 

The spread of coronavirus can be prevented by practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene. It is the best defence against most viruses:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • and if unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact).  

Current symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19 include, but are not limited to fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. If a student or staff member develops mild symptoms, they should:

  • Isolate themselves from others at home and use a separate bathroom if available:
  • Put on a surgical mask and if they don't have one, practise good sneeze/cough hygiene:
  • Practise good hand hygiene: and
  • Call a doctor or hospital and tell them the recent travel or close contact history.

If they have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000, ask for an ambulance and notify the officers of the recent travel or close contact history. 

In the event that a student becomes unwell whilst at school we will need to request that Parents collect the student from school.   

It is likely that in the coming weeks and months, someone within our school community may be directly impacted by coronavirus COVID-I9. Therefore, the School Leadership Team has developed a contingency plan aimed at minimising and managing the impact that such an event would inflict. Some of the initiatives currently in place or in development include:

  • Improved hygiene practices across all campuses with increased cleaning schedules and more thorough cleaning being undertaken – including the disinfecting of handrails and doorknobs.
  • Implementing a formal process for managing an event where a student or staff informs the school of a positive diagnosis of Coronavirus COVID-19.
  • Avoiding person to person physical contact where possible (such as handshakes)
  • Developing an online teaching and learning plan for anyone unable to attend normal classes.
  • Developing a wider-school quarantine plan in the event that multiple members of the student population are infected.
  • Updating the school website with the latest school communications.
  • Preparing for a scenario where the school is obliged to close for a period of time with continuous learning to be delivered through our online platforms.

As events continue to unfold the School will consistently review and improve its approach to identifying potential risks and implementing mitigation activities as more becomes known of the virus.   

May I also respectfully suggest that all families look carefully at their own non-urgent personal travel plans and/or holidays in the coming months. You may also wish to consult your own insurers if you have overseas travel booked. You need to be cognisant that if you choose to visit a restricted area on a family holiday, then the School expects that this will be declared and that we may have to impose the mandatory 14-day isolation period, or at a very minimum a medical clearance before your son or daughter can return to school.   

If you require further information about COVID-19 please visit the Department of Health website by following this link.

Further information for schools and early childhood centres, students and their parents from the Department of Health is also attached. 

Many thanks for your support during this challenging time.

David Burton Acting Principal - Head of Senior Campus

*Woodleigh School will expand the list of countries in accordance with updated Government and Department of Health advice.

Coping with the Novel Coronavirus – Information Flyer

COVID-19 Information for Schools and Early Childhood Centres

Tips on what to tell your children about Coronavirus

School TV Special Report – Coronavirus

ISV – Independent Schools Victoria – Advice for Parents

Australian Government Department of Health – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus Updates

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services – About Coronavirus