Dear Staff, Parents and Learners
It’s been 4 incredible days at school this week. Your children have been amazing.
Over 2 months ago, with barely a weeks’ notice, they were, together with all of us, placed in the most stringent lockdown in the history of this country. Within two weeks they had to take all their digital skills which, up till that moment, had largely been used to send texts, upload images and videos, and use them to learn and study for the most important exam of their lives thus far. As with most things in life, some floundered initially but in a few short days, they had come to grips with adapting their skills to the digital content provided by my teachers. What an incredible achievement!!! I sincerely believe that those who managed to adapt to this new way of learning, will have a significant advantage over their peers when they go to university or college next year.
Fast forward through the 67 days and again, with barely 24 hours’ notice, your children were thrust into a school environment the likes of which they were not prepared for. Tuesday morning was a surreal experience. Standing at the school gate in the mist which shrouded the city, I greeted your children, one by one, as they silently walked to the brightly lit gym hall. Over 30 of my staff were there to direct them into the school and to their classrooms. Your children looked bewildered, some even a little scared, their eyes wide atop their masks. They followed every direction and were soon safely in their classrooms, where suddenly things looked a little more familiar. My teachers kept them occupied with small talk and administrative tasks in order to distract them from the strangeness of the morning.
For the next two hours they went through an orientation process that covered a myriad of new protocols. They sat in silence as they absorbed the changes, unaware of the history they were making. They were the pioneers, the leaders, the first ones to break down the barriers that had prevented them from their rightful place in the classrooms of the school. As the mist lifted, so did their spirits. One could see the glimmer of hope in their eyes as they stood around on the front fields, the warmth of the sun on their faces. And, as the next few hours flew by, it was soon time for them to go home.
As the school fell back into the eerie silence of the previous 67 days, I sat with my deputies to debrief the day. A few changes here, a minor adjustment there, and we were good to go. Our systems had stood the ultimate practical test…and worked. My staff recognized that your children needed to feel safe at school. They needed to know that things “felt normal”, even though things were far from normal.
I knew my staff were succeeding when, as I walked around the corridors yesterday and today, I heard the sound of laughter from your children. The resilience they had learned in lockdown. Their ability to adapt, and adapt quickly, was evident as their confidence grew. Within three days, the
routine began to feel normal. There is safety in routine and you could see your children begin to relax.
It has been an emotional three days. It has been an historic three days. It has been a successful three days. It has been an exhausting three days. I would like to thank you for trusting my staff to deliver on my commitment to you to look after your children as if my life depended on it. I know that you were anxious, petrified even, to send your children to school. I was humbled to see close on 200 of you dropping your children off at school. Just as you had kept the school afloat by paying your school fees, the decision you made to send your children to school was the defining moment in my entire teaching career. I will never forget this week as long as I live. This week was the reason I became a teacher. Your faith in my staff, my management team and my leadership meant the world to me. Thank you.
Your children are going to be fine. We are going to get through this year come hell or high water.
I am going to end on a slightly more mundane note than the rest of my letter. As you know my staff have been at school from 6:30am to be ready to receive your children from 7am every morning. We have observed the time it takes us to screen 200 matrics and analysed the arrival time of the majority of matrics. It is evident my staff is going to shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibility over the next three months and I need to factor the wellbeing of my staff into account. I am, therefore, only going to open the school at 7:15am with effect from Monday 8 June, as over 90% of the learners arrive between 7:15 and 8am. Please make the necessary adjustments over the next day or so. I thank you in advance for doing so.
Finally, I’d like to quote the last verse of the School Song…
“Here’s to all who bring her honour
Facing challenge day by day;
Gladly, proudly we will follow
Those who excelled upon the way!”
Your children faced every challenge this week, they led the way….the other grades which have yet to come to school should proudly follow your children.
God bless you all, today and always.