Unprecedented times ahead!!

As I was driving to school today along Lonsdale Highway, enjoying the amazing scenery of the southern coastline from the silence of my car, I was thinking of the unprecedented times we are experiencing right across the world. I have never encountered anything like this in my lifetime. It reminds me that we are living in fragile times. The devastating bushfires have taught us that we cannot take life for granted and that we live in times where circumstances can change quickly.

The Coronavirus is a phenomenon which, initially, I thought was an issue for China and that somehow the virus would be contained as has happened in the past. Little did I know that countries are making drastic decisions to stop the spread of the virus in our communities by taking significant measures regarding human interaction and travel.

At Cardijn, we have responded to the circumstances almost daily in the last 72 hrs. The government has decided that schools should remain open and that this is the best strategy at this time. Today I informed staff that the following measures have been put in place effective immediately.

1. Staff who are scheduled to attend conferences, retreats and other meetings interstate will not be able to attend and travel is cancelled until further notice.
2. Excursions are to be cancelled.
3. Parent gatherings or meetings will be postponed until further notice.
4. Large assemblies in the gym or other areas are cancelled until further notice.
5. After school sport has been cancelled for Cardijn until further notice.
6. Year 12 retreat will be postponed until later in Term 2 or 3.
7. Staff and students are to check that their SEQTA and use of FOLDR are up to date to ensure continuity of learning in the event of school closure.
8. SEQTA is our main platform for communicating with students and families.
9. Health authorities have recommended ‘social distancing’ to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes refraining from shaking hands or hugging and congregating in groups in close proximity.
10. The school will be cleaned thoroughly every day especially flat surfaces such as desks, benches, doors, handles etc.
11. We ask everyone to adhere to the advice regarding hygiene and adopt strict hygiene practices, including thorough washing of hands and refraining from touching the face with hands. Posters to this effect are displayed on our campuses and hand sanitizer will be available around the school.

As you can imagine, unprecedented times and uncertainty raise anxiety. We ask that everyone remains vigilant and calm and together we will navigate the situation as it arises, knowing that both the leadership team, staff and health authorities are well informed of the requirements if Coronavirus strikes our community.

We will continue to maintain open communication along with communication from our government. Thank you for your ongoing support at this difficult time.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, a Catholic secondary co-educational school (7-12) in the southern region of Adelaide with a total of 1120 students and 140 staff. Marcellin is a campus of Cardijn College. It provides students in Years 10 to 12 with SACE, training and apprenticeships. It has an enrolment of over 155 students and 30 staff. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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