In the last two weeks, we have been able to welcome students back on site, albeit for some in a part-time arrangement. This has been a great joy to staff and students alike. We can also begin to plan with some measure of confidence for a 2022 school year that is much more like pre-2020.
We have a robust covid safe plan in place for onsite schooling and take every measure practicable to ensure the safety of all staff and students on-site by emphasising mask-wearing, hand hygiene, social distancing and ventilation along with insisting that anyone with symptoms is tested and remains at home. The single most important factor keeping us all safe is having most people in our community vaccinated. As you are no doubt aware vaccination is now mandatory for all adults on school sites and is available to all our current students. As part of our commitment to the safety of staff and students, the College strongly encourages all students to be vaccinated. This is based on the advice of health authorities and overwhelming evidence of the individual and community benefits of vaccination.
We know that there are some members of the College community who hold very strong anti-vaccination views and we respect this. We also know that there are some families who have concerns about sending their child to school where not everyone is vaccinated and we understand this.
We will continue to support the right of each student and family to be educated at St Joseph’s and, while encouraging vaccination for all, respect the views of those with different views and their right to hold these views.
This is the final week of classes for Year 12 students. I would like to acknowledge our Year 12 group for the way they have persevered through the most difficult of times in the last two years. We shouldn’t underestimate their achievement in completing Year 12 while learning new ways to learn, coping with the death of friends, dealing with the uncertainty of multiple lockdowns and rescheduled assessments, and the disappointment of the cancellation or modification of many rite of passage events.
This week we are limited in the formal ways we can acknowledge and celebrate with our year 12’s but we will do what we are permitted and remain cautiously optimistic that we will be able to hold a significant graduation event after the final VCE exam. The families of Year 12 students have been provided with detail of these events.
There have been some adjustments to the assessment and reporting timeline for years 7 to 11 which includes an adjustment in exam dates and a one-off shortening of our two-week head start program. These are communicated elsewhere in this newsletter.
Last year St Joseph’s was reviewed by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) with a particular focus on our child safety policy and practice. The review report was extremely positive and affirming which is reflective of the excellent work of Mark Kennedy and the Child Safety team and the commitment of all our staff. A follow-up review / audit will be held this term involving a panel meeting with a random sample of staff, parents and students. This process is part of an agreement between Edmund Rice Education Australia and the VRQA and will be occurring in all Victorian EREA schools.
A ‘climate strike’ event for students is being promoted in Geelong for this Friday. The College supports the right of young people to be heard on issues that they are passionate about. When similar previous events have been held we have left the decision regarding attendance as a matter for students together with their parents. This will be the same for any future events. Any protest / gathering held at this time is in breach of the current COVID restrictions and therefore we ask that students not be involved in any such protest gathering.
Stay well and God Bless