A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 11 - 2021

Welcome back to the start of Semester 2, or the false start! The past 10 days have been the most unique I have had in my career. I am sure it has been the same for most of the Westminster community residing in South Australia (possibly beyond our borders too).

When the South Australian lockdown was announced, we were well prepared to move into online learning. However, even the best of planning cannot deal with every permutation. When we found out that one of our Boarding staff had, unfortunately, contracted COVID-19, it changed the landscape even further. Suddenly we were closed as a site. As a School, we have been working closely and collaboratively with SA Health and this has allowed our SA Health Risk Assessment to be reviewed by our case managers on a number of occasions. Coming out of lockdown saw nearly all of the State’s students return to classrooms on site but we were still caught. Our community has continued to rally around us as our students and staff have made the most of online learning. Thank you for your support and all that you have done and are doing to ensure that while COVID-19 may have prevented us from re-opening, it certainly hasn’t stopped us from teaching and learning.

For the past week, all staff have been working remotely to do all they can to ensure that the disruption to learning and School operations has been minimal. Their efforts are greatly appreciated as are your efforts at home. We have had a skeleton teaching staff available on site and during the course of this week, following the reclassification of exposure sites, and therefore staff, by SA Health, we were able to open our ELC and reinstate supervised student care. We have been thorough in providing information to SA Health so as to get our students back on campus as soon as possible.

To have all students in class, we need our teachers and around 95% of our teachers were quarantined, which makes running a physical school site impossible. Following our re-opening on Friday 30 July, we will still have some students, staff and families classified as having been present at a Tier 1 COVID-19 exposure site. As such, we will have to continue to work online until all staff and students clear their Day 13 test and 14 days of quarantine. Online learning will therefore still be available for Friday 30 July, Monday 2 August with Tuesday 3 August possibly needed on a reduced scale if there are students and staff not yet released from quarantine. Thank you for your forbearance with this and we send our thoughts and wishes to all who are still in this situation for a few more days.

In times of adversity, the true character of a community will emerge. Throughout the last week, we have received countless supportive emails thanking our team of staff for what they are doing. In turn, we thank you all for your support. The end is in sight and with our aim of living with purpose in 2021, this lockdown and quarantine has provided us with a purpose; that is, to simply get through the adversity we are facing and emerge as a stronger community.

Over the past 10 days, the Tier 1 and 2 sites have undergone a deep clean, certified by SA Health. We‘ve also had some pretty stormy times weather-wise so please bear with us while our Property Services team, now back on deck too, sets about to tidy up our beautiful campus.

As we close another chapter in the pandemic, we are absolutely delighted to welcome back our students and to again see them grace and energise our fantastic grounds and buildings.

Simon Shepherd