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Letter Home – Term 2, Week 8

Greetings families and friends, We have been delighted to welcome all children from Early Learning to Year 2 back to Penbank. All children have excitedly enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect both in the classroom and at play. We have been most impressed by their willingness to immerse themselves in the school routines and activities, including some unusual protocols that are government requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the protocols have included increased attention to hygiene practices, not touching others, and being outside as much as possible. We have predominantly been blessed with fine weather, so eating outside and participating in activities on the grounds has been an absolute pleasure.

I thank you as parents for supporting other protocols such as drop-off and pick-up procedures that have affected your ability to enter the school. As you know, no adults other than school employees are currently allowed in the vicinity of the school and its building. This is undoubtedly a massive change for our school community. I appreciate how difficult it must be not being able to spontaneously communicate directly with staff and see your child engaging with the school environment. On a positive note, we are delighted with how the children have adapted to these new arrangements with increased confidence and independence. Always a silver lining!

This week, all students return. We will be extremely pleased to see all staff and Year 3 to 6 children join with the Early Learning to Year 2 cohort and teaching teams. The Penbank family is a tight-knit community.

We are looking forward to reuniting everyone through learning opportunities and sharing, which will enable our children to flourish. We are also hopeful to involve parents on site in due course.

Drop-off and pick-up routines will alter again to accommodate the extra traffic with the commencement of Year 3 to 6 children. The morning routine will not be changed; however, the afternoon pick-up procedure will vary. 

Please note the amended routine for drop-off and pick-up that will commence Tuesday 9 June.

PROCEDURE – ENTRY – BEGINNING OF DAY - unchanged

Prep to Year 6. Arrival time: 8:10 - 8:40 am 

  1. Staff will assist with the management of cars at drop-off/assembly point at the top of the roundabout 
  2. Parents will arrive in cars and be directed to the roundabout – greeted by staff members on duty 
  3. Parents will remain in cars and staff will welcome each child and direct him/her to their specific entrance 

Early Learning Centre – Arrival time – 8:50 to 9:00 am

  1. ELC parents park in the carpark and remain in cars until 8:55 am. ELC parents and carers are requested to maintain social distancing requirements
  2. ELC educators will greet children in the ELC courtyard – Parents are asked not to enter the Centre
  3. ELC educators will sign in children on behalf of parents/carers
  4. The children will enter the ELC foyer to be greeted by ELC staff

PROCEDURE – EXIT – END OF DAY – CHANGED to a staggered arrangement

Early Learning Centre – The day concludes at 3:00 pm 

  1. Parents park in carpark 
  2. Parents/carers walk to ELC courtyard paying attention to social distancing requirements
  3. Child collects his/her bag from foyer when told their parent/carer has arrived
  4. ELC educator greets parents in courtyard
  5. Child is handed over to parent/carer in the courtyard
  6. Parent and child leaves with a friendly goodbye from educators
  7. Walk to car park maintaining social distancing and exit by 3:15 pm
  8. ELC parents with school children should move their car to the area of the roundabout ready to collect school children (P to 2) from 3:30 pm

Prep to Year 2 – The school day concludes at 3:30 pm. 

  1. Parents of Prep to Year 2 children only are asked to arrive at Penbank from 3:20 pm and leave by 3:40 pm. Queuing on the roundabout can commence at 3:20 pm. Please do not be earlier than 3:20 pm to allow Early Learning families to exit
  2. P to 2 children with older siblings in Year 3 to 6 will wait until their older siblings conclude the day at 3:40 pm 
  3. Children will be escorted from classrooms by the teacher to arrive at the collection point at 3:30 pm 
  4. Children will be placed in spaces/family groupings to await the arrival of parents and older siblings (if applicable) in the assembly area adjacent to the roundabout
  5. Parents drive to the top of the roundabout – parents stay in cars – children hop into cars – friendly goodbye!

Year 3 to 6 – The school day concludes at 3:40 pm

  1. Parents of Year 3 to Year 6 children are asked to arrive at Penbank from 3:40 pm and no earlier to allow for Prep to Year 2 families to exit
  2. P to 2 children with older siblings in Year 3 to 6 will be waiting at the collection point for their older siblings to arrive at 3:40 pm 
  3. Children will be escorted from classrooms by the teacher to arrive at the collection point at 3:40 pm. Students will be encouraged to stand with their younger siblings (if applicable)
  4. Parents drive to the top of the roundabout – parents stay in cars – children hop into cars – friendly goodbye!

We aim to avoid traffic congestion and manage a safe arrival and departure for all students and drivers. I thank you sincerely for your cooperation with these procedures that will be in place for the remainder of the term and into Term 3.

Time for Winter Uniform

We have been delighted to see many children in the new school winter clothing. Several children are still wearing summer clothing or in-between season gear, which is not suitable for playing outside in the fresh, crisp air. Recent government guidelines are recommending free-flowing ventilation in indoor spaces and regular opportunities for being outdoors. The new winter uniform for both Minimbah and Penbank is suitable for being in the outdoors. I especially recommend the jumper and windproof jacket. Woodleigh customized long socks are now available instead of tights if that is preferred. Children must have the appropriate winter gear that comfortably enables children to participate in all elements of our environment. The Bounty Shop in Frankston is now fully stocked with the winter gear. 

'In This Together' 

This term, our school meetings have focused on learning at home during these past months of isolation. We have had much fun sharing our home-based activities such as online learning, bike riding, playing games, enjoying being with our pets, and for many of us, being with the newest four-legged family member. We also enjoyed sharing our school meetings with our friends at the Wugularr School in the Northern Territory. It has been incredibly important to continue the connections; to date, we have been unable to participate in the Wugubank exchanges with students due to the lockdown of communities, states, and territories. Our campus has been involved in these experiences for the past ten years. It's with great disappointment we have been unable to come together this year.

'In This Together' has undoubtedly been a significant theme and is resonating in ways unforeseen when announced last year by the organisation Reconciliation Australia. These past two weeks have focused on National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week.

Tuesday 26 May is National Sorry Day. A sad day for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it's a day to commemorate or remember the day when a report was presented to the Federal Parliament in 1997 by Kim Beasley. The report called the Bringing Them Home Report. This report's reading was especially significant for Kim Beasley, as he had a young Aboriginal girl living with his family. He was personally struck with sorrow realising that the young Aboriginal girl who had spent many years living with his family in Perth was not there by chance but was a child who had been forcibly removed from her family. She was not the orphan he was told she was. We also remembered Kutcha Edwards, an excellent friend of ours. Kutcha is a proud Aboriginal man. He has told us many stories about his life. He has been with us when the Wugularr kids have been staying with us. Kutcha was also taken from his mother. Sorry Day is of heartfelt significance and is of immense importance to the Stolen Generations - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples whose lives have been so damaged by the government policy to remove children from their mothers.

There is a lot we don't know, and before us, there have been decisions made by governments and many organisations that have caused deep hurt. It is why it is important to know; to understand that Sorry Day is a day to commemorate, a day of reflection and sorrow.

Australian people across the country celebrate National Reconciliation Week. Held 27 May to 3 June, NRW is an annual event aimed at strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples for the benefit of all Australians. 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000. On that day, people came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation in support of a more reconciled Australia. National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. At the heart of reconciliation for Woodleigh School is the two-way learning and genuine relationships developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, both local and interstate. At Penbank, we are especially grateful for our friendship with the Beswick community through the Wugubank Partnership. 

Everybody In!

As we anticipate the excitement from both teachers and children in Year 3 to 6 when they join us next week, I wish to sincerely acknowledge the enormous contribution by teachers and parents with the learning that has taken place at home since the last weeks of March. For teachers, it has been an excessive amount of planning and work. Perhaps it has looked simple. However, the time required to deliver a program online that caters to the needs of young people is extraordinary. For parents, your children have required your consistent and daily support to engage with the Continuous Learning Plan. I thank you for your commitment to your children's education and for openly expressing appreciation to our staff. 

We have all missed the opportunity to connect on a personal level. Learning for all ages transpires through participation in shared experiences, sharing, and collaboration. We develop a sense of belonging and an inclusive environment from the engagement that enables us to work and learn as a community. We appreciate our peer's strengths and understand the importance of cooperation, support, and encouragement. We are motivated when inspired – we are enthused by positive energy, imagination, new ideas, and our interests. Time to be back!

Again, I thank you for your support of our school, including its new protocols. We are committed to keeping our school secure to protect our campuses from any possible outbreak of COVID-19. Now that we're open to all students, we want to stay open! In this together!

With immense gratitude,

VIVIENNE WEARNE 

Head of Penbank Campus
Deputy Principal Woodleigh School