A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Adelaide,
South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Preparatory School - Edition 6 - 2020

Return to School

I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude for the heartening level of support and understanding that families have expressed to the staff of the School as we have attempted to navigate the uncharted waters caused by COVID-19. As I am sure you are aware, we are fortunate to live in South Australia. We have much to be grateful for in our State, including the current progress being made with ‘flattening of the COVID-19 curve.’

We commenced this term delivering the teaching and learning to 84% of the students who returned to school. The numbers increased as the first week of term progressed and by the start of this week, we had over 94% of the students back into the routine of school. In Week 1 it felt like we were starting the year again and the excitement on the faces of the children to be back with their friends was a delight to see. I also noticed a few parents skipping happily after school drop off.

What about the children who can’t return?

There are some students who unfortunately can’t return just yet due to a variety of reasons. While face-to-face teaching remains our priority, class and specialist teachers will do all they can to keep children who have to stay away engaged in their learning via SEQTA.

If your child is unable to come to school, please follow normal protocol by phoning the School Absentee Line, T: 08 8276 0255. If you are leaving a message, please advise if it is because of illness or learning from home.

What strategies do we have in place?

At Westminster, as we did in Term 1, staff will be encouraging enhanced measures to minimise risk, including;

  • Very regular handwashing
  • Modified practice in class
  • Increased cleaning daily, including playgrounds
  • Implementing physical distancing measures (even though it is difficult in a school context, we are still aiming for the ideal of 1.5 m)
  • Larger gatherings of students are cancelled until further notice
  • Postponing all School excursions and incursions
  • Limiting visitors to our site.

How can you help?

We are focused on minimising risk for our students, staff and broader community.

When dropping off and collecting your child we request parents and caregivers to:

For Reception

• practice as normal but minimise time on campus

For Years 1 to 6:

• utilise the Drop Off areas

• only come on campus if you have an essential need

Essentially, physical distancing applies to everyone, so we ask those of you who are dropping children at School not to enter classrooms and avoid lingering where possible.

What if myself or my child are sick?

Please do not send your child to school if they are sick, including mild symptoms. Keep them home and seek medical advice as required.

If a student is not feeling well at school, even if they are displaying mild symptoms of being unwell, they will be immediately sent to the Health Centre where the staff will make the required contact with parents.

We also ask that parents please do not come onto the School grounds if they are sick, including even mild symptoms This is to minimise the risk to them and our community.

What about co-curricular?

If the positive trend continues, we are hopeful that some team activities will be able to recommence. Individual music lessons are up and running again as are OT and Speech therapy sessions for those families who use these services. Individual tennis coaching will also resume shortly.

While we are not yet able to recommence the full Co-curricular and Sport programs, we are hopeful that at least training for these competitions can get underway in the foreseeable future.

House Sport

Due to the restrictions still in place, we are unable to have the usual pastoral gatherings such as Assembly, House Meeting and Chapel. The PE staff have decided to make use of this available time to help our Winter sport teams develop their skills. Mr Weatherald and Mr Thompson have organised a House Sport competition during the school day where the children from Years 3 to 6 can play their chosen sport for their House. This will be conducted with modifications such as smaller numbers of students and shortened matches, much like a normal sports lesson.

What uniform should students wear?

Up until the end of Week 3 (Friday 15 May) students can wear either their winter or their summer uniform. On days when they have PE, students can wear PE uniform. From the start of Week 4, Monday 18 May, all students should be in Winter uniform, including School blazer. The Westminster (Uniform) Shop will is open as follows:

Monday – 8.15 to 4.30 pm
Tuesday - 1.00 to 4.30 pm
Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 8.15 am to 4.30 pm
Friday – 1.00 to 4.30 pm

The Westminster Shop can also take telephone orders and will organise for uniform to be dropped to your child's classroom if you are unable to make it in-store during opening hours.

Is the canteen open?

All Prep students are able to order their lunch on any day of the week. The over-the-counter canteen, however, will not be operating in the Preparatory School until further notice. Students in Years 3 to 6 may go, with a buddy, to the Senior School Tuckshop after eating time in the Prep School, should they wish to purchase something over-the-counter. Unfortunately, this option will not be available for our Junior Primary (Reception to Year 2) students.

Please also ensure your child has a named water bottle for each school day as the communal bubblers and drinking fountains are not currently available.

Staff News

We have had some class teacher juggling from the start of this term. Ms Mugford has returned to her Year 3 classroom this term, and we have also welcomed back Mr Leith to Year 3 and Mr Genikas to Year 5. Both gentlemen have enjoyed a term of long service leave and have returned to us refreshed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely the fine efforts of Mrs Papst, Ms Bachmatiuk and Mrs Cope who were with us during Term 1. They helped the Prep School through a particularly tumultuous time and their contribution to Westminster was greatly appreciated.

Welcome to Westminster and Mace

Amid the excitement of returning to school, we have also had three students join us at Westminster. Lexi Zhou has started in Mrs Mather’s Year 1 class, Alexander Samaras is also in Year 1 and has joined Ms Sullivan’s class and his brother Ignatios Samaras is in Mrs Schreuder’s Year 4 class. All three of our new students are in Mace House. They have all settled very well and I am sure they and their parents will enjoy Westminster even more once all the regular activities resume.

COVIDSafe App

The Australian Government recently launched the COVIDSafe App as part of their strategy to ensure that any cases of Coronavirus are dealt with swiftly, reducing the number of cases and fatalities across the country. While South Australia is leading the way in our efforts to reduce the 'COVID Curve', we would strongly encourage all families and members of the community to download this important resource. You can find out more information about the COVIDSafe App at www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app

School Traffic

With some additional measures in place to help with traffic movement in and out of the School gates into Alison Ave, the City of Marion has changed the parking arrangements on the eastern side of Alison Ave between Andrew and Orkney Aves.

This is now a NO PARKING zone, between 8.00 to 9.00 am and 3.00 to 4.00 pm on school days. These signs mean within these times on these days you are able to drop-off or pick-up to a maximum of two minutes and must stay in or within 3ms of your car. Since the beginning of Term 2, the City of Marion Ranger has been maintaining a presence along Alison Ave and has advised that a number of warnings have been issued. As of Monday 11 May, the warnings will stop and fines will be the norm if you disobey the signs in this stretch of roadway. Of course, we ask that at all times you observe the street signs in our neighbouring streets to avoid being penalised.

Another area of apparent congestion is the staff carpark that sits on the right-hand side of Barry’s Lane, through Gate 4. We finding increasingly that there are a number of cars waiting in the traffic lanes at the end of school, effectively stopping vehicles from being able to leave the carpark. Respectfully, we remind our community that this is not a ‘kiss and drop’ zone for cars to sit and wait for student pick-up.

PS01

Well done Sienna

ANZAC Day fell during the recent school holidays which meant that we all had to find different ways to acknowledge the significant sacrifice that members of the armed forces and their families have made to protect our way of life. Sienna Blewitt (Year 6 Charter) was one of many students around the nation that shared her musical talent by playing the Last Post on Anzac Day. Sienna planned to march for the first time this year on ANZAC Day with her grandfather, Max Lemon, a Vietnam veteran and decorated army brigadier.

Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic caused a change to her family's plans. Instead, Sienna played her own tribute to those who have served, taking up her saxophone to play the Last Post on the balcony of her home.

Her 82-year-old grandfather served as a commanding officer of the Army's field operational research team in Vietnam in 1969. He was posted there a second time to lead the 110th Signal Squadron and was later appointed Director-General of Personnel Operations and then Commander of the Fourth Military District in SA. Both of Sienna's great-grandfathers, Howard Lemon and Alfred Mott, also served in World War II.

Understanding Autism - Prep Staff Training

Dr Robyn Young is a Professor in Psychology at Flinders University, a recognised autism diagnostician and is on the Professional Advisory Board of Autism SA. Last term Dr Young was invited to share her knowledge about autism with the Prep School staff. The presentation was focussed on supporting staff to further understand Autism and understand effective strategies to enable success in school for both students and teachers.

Current estimates indicate that 1 in 150 individuals have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. These estimates do vary to as low as 1 in 66. People are born with autism and it is not something that is ‘outgrown’ or ‘cured’. The ‘degree’ of autism can range from mild to severe with severity being reflected by the impact on adaptive behaviours, eg; level of communication, social skills, cognitive abilities. Other disorders can also impact on the abilities and behaviours of people with autism including anxiety, neurodevelopment disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, depression, reactive attachment disorder and attention deficit disorder.

There is no medical test for diagnosing autism, although other medical tests may be ordered to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual’s communication, behaviour and development levels. These must be observed in several settings.

To provide a quality educational program for students with autism, it is important that parents and teachers work together to understand the best practices for the child, as there is no one program, support or service that is likely to meet the individual’s need. Further to this, the following should be present in a classroom; systematic instruction, comprehensible and structured learning environments, specialised curriculum focus, functional approach to inappropriate behaviours and family involvement to support the learning needs of students in the class.

Dr Robyn Young’s presentation was both engaging and informative and has supported staff understanding and development in this area. For more information visit the Autism SA website www.autismsa.org.au

Mrs Sharyn Darrell
Preparatory School Deputy - Teaching and Learning

PS02

Battery Recycling at Westminster

We have made an extremely positive impact on the environment during the first term of 2020!

Thank you to all the students, staff, their families and their connections with the community in coming together to recycle batteries.

During Term 1 we have collected a total of 11.3kg worth of batteries.

We are so pleased that we have all come together to support this initiative and share our school passion for recycling. We will continue with the recycling of batteries in Term 2 and we hope to achieve a greater weigh-in than first term.

We have bread tag and used battery containers for collection in the Junior Primary (Ms Sullivan’s room), in the Prep Vandepeer courtyard, in the Tuckshop and in 4S classroom.

Oral Care waste (any brand of used toothpaste tubes, non-electric toothbrushes, floss containers, interdental brushes and electric toothbrush heads) can be brought to Mrs Mori’s Year 5 classroom.

We are going to share our progress with the Marion Council recycling group, and we hope to have someone come in later in the year to show the students what we have achieved.

We hope you will join us in our recycling ventures and can feel as good as we do about helping our environment and the planet we live on.

Year 4 and 5 students

Diary Dates

  • Casuals Day - Tuesday 2 June
  • Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday - Monday 8 June
  • End of Term 2 - Friday 26 June, dismissal at 1.00 pm
  • Term 3 commences – Tuesday 21 July

Grant Bock
Head of Preparatory School