Information about Schooling during COVID-19

Sacred Heart FAQ for Returning to school (updated 21/10/21)

25th October - Kinder, Years 1, 2 & 6 return.          1st November - Years 3, 4 & 5 return.

We have prepared this FAQ page for all families to provide clear information on the arrangements that we have in place to protect and care for all members of our community. We hope this will give you confidence in your child’s return to school and assist you in supporting your child, the community and our staff as we welcome students back into classrooms with their teachers and classmates. 

How do I find an answer on this page?

Browse the questions. It is text and information dense, but easily searchable. Use a keyboard shortcut to find a word on this page eg: Control + F. Use the Google Translate function on our website to support other languages.

Who is Sacred Heart ACT being guided by in the return to school?

ACT Health www.covid19.act.gov.au/home

Catholic Education Canberra and Goulburn  https://cg.catholic.edu.au/covid-19-information-and-updates/  

How can I prepare my child for returning to school?

We have published, via email to parents and newsletter, a number of documents. They are linked here for ease of access:

  1. Helping my child re-adjust to social settings. Click here
  2. Return to school. First day procedures. Click here
  3. Returning to School - Social Story from Sacred Heart. Click here.

Do students need to wear masks?

Students in Year 3 to 6 are encouraged to wear masks inside if they are comfortable doing so (at the discretion of the student and their parents/carers). Children in Kinder to Year 2 should not wear masks as they are likely to be worn incorrectly and may present a choking hazard (Also at the discretion of the student and their parents/carers. Parents must have taught them how to do this effectively.) Masks may not be suitable for all students. Please discuss this with your child’s teaching team.

Students will not wear masks while outdoors with their class or during playtimes. We will avoid indoor sports.

We will display posters to help staff and students wear masks correctly. Please note that if a child is wearing a surgical mask that it is recommended they be changed every 4 hours. 

All adults are to wear masks whilst on the school grounds (unless vigorous exercise or they have an exemption from a health professional). 

How will classrooms maintain air quality?

We will ensure ventilation is maximised through existing means. Doors and windows will be opened daily to allow for air flow. 

Classes will make regular use of our outdoor spaces for learning.

We are hearing from our colleagues across the border that open windows are a little cool for kids who have been inside for weeks! Remember to send your child to school with a jumper.

Are drink bottles needed?

Students will need their own refillable drink bottle every day. They will not be allowed to go to sick bay/office or the staffroom for a cup as we are limiting movement through the school.

Can my child purchase a lunch order and recess through the canteen? 

Yes, we encourage you to support our canteen. Initially the canteen will offer a reduced menu to maintain food quality.  Please see ordering options online via Qkr! Orders must be placed by 8am daily. 

There will be no counter sales. The teacher on duty will hand out orders to the children on the playground at the beginning of eating time, as they are delivered from the canteen. 

Are there any changes to daily timetables to minimise contact between classes?

Yes.

Morning arrival: Children will not be supervised before 8.45am. If your child needs to arrive at school before then, please book them into YMCA before-school care. When they arrive, teachers will direct them to sit in their class area. At 8.55am we will put masks on and move indoors.

Playtime: Lunch and recess bell times are the same. Playground and eating areas will be segregated to separate junior and senior classes. Sandpits and the play shed are closed, due to the shared nature of play in these areas. Each grade will have a tub of sports equipment available to them.

Class time: Classes will stay mostly in their own rooms. Movement around the classroom (and school) will be limited. Staff will plan for outdoor learning time as available. Students are encouraged to bring their own pencil case of stationery supplies.

Afternoon pickup: Regular bell at 3.15pm. Pickup and drive-through routines similar to last year – as outlined below. 

How can I drop off my child at SHPS? 

Drop your child to the blacktop area, via either of the two drive-through points. You are also welcome to park in the side streets off Murphy St* or in the main school carpark and walk your child up to the waiting teachers. Parents are asked to avoid entering the school grounds.

We will have many staff members outside from 8.45am to greet you and help your child make their way to the class line. We have music and things planned to build the joy.

*Parking off Murphy St will give parents the best opportunity to watch your child until the bell goes. If you need a clean break (as for some that is best), staff will be ready to support your child while you leave. We have found most children calm quickly once they are in the classroom with their teacher. We will phone you if we have concerns about them settling in.

If your child requires support, please park in a designated car park and approach a teacher on duty, or pre-plan with the school. You must remain at least 1.5m from any adults or students. YMCA is operating before-school care. This short-term change is to assist the school in complying with cohort physical distancing directives.

How can I pick up my child from SHPS? 

We ask parents to avoid entering the school grounds. We will operate two points for after school pick-up. Please ensure your child knows which pick-up point they will be collected from and what your wet-weather plans may be. Any child not collected by 3.30pm will be taken to the front office.

  1. The normal drive-through outside of the school hall. Children will stand with their siblings. Parents can park, walk up, or drive-through. Teachers will direct your child to you.
  2. We will make Murphy Street a second drive-through. Drive up the hill. Pull up beside an orange bollard. Avoid stopping in the intersection, adjacent to the solid white lines on the road. ACT policing will issue fines. The teacher on duty will direct your child to you. If you wish to park, please do so in the side streets and walk to the fence.

If using either drive-through we ask that parents remain in their vehicle as children are sent to you. Have your family name clearly displayed in your windscreen to aid efficiency.  Please be patient and watch out for pedestrians as we settle into the new routines.

Children are still able to walk and ride to school on their own if this is their normal method of transport. Teachers will be on duty at the normal meeting points in the afternoon.

Is Before and After School care operating?

YMCA will operate as normal. Please book directly with them by phoning 6242 4040 or visiting the YMCA website  

What happens if we arrive at school late or need to pick up early?

Parents and carers can drop students to the front door. Students will be electronically signed in by front office staff. 

For early collection please ring through to the front office in advance so that your child can be ready and waiting in the office. 

Please follow all social distancing signage and guidelines. If parents enter the building they must check in using the Check In CBR app. 

As always it is much easier for the classroom teacher and your child if your child arrives before the 8.55am bell. 

As a parent or carer am I able to come into the school? 

We need to minimise the number of adults coming onto the premises. Teachers are encouraged to hold meetings with parents and carers via MS Teams or phone. We do realise there may be circumstances when a face-to-face meeting would be best. Please email your child’s teacher to make an appointment. We will endeavour to respond within 24 hours. As always, phone the office if the matter is more urgent.

Will there be large gatherings such as masses or assemblies this term? 

At this stage, there will be no masses, assemblies or large gatherings for the remainder of this term. Morning assemblies will be over the PA once children are in classrooms.

An exception to this may be an evacuation or emergency procedure if required. (Fire alarm etc.)

My child is vulnerable, and I need to keep him/her at home for the foreseeable future. Will the school support me to continue his/her learning? 

Please contact our principal to discuss arrangements that will support your child’s learning whilst their cohort has returned to school.

However, please be aware that teachers will be providing face-to-face lessons and our Remote Learning will end once school is open.

What if my child is unwell or displays cold or flu-like symptoms? 

Staff members, students and parents who are unwell must not attend a school site. If displaying cold or flu-like symptoms should stay home and get tested as per Health advice. Here

In circumstances where staff, children or young people have other medical reasons for recurrent symptoms, a letter from the GP is sufficient to allow return to school without a negative test.

What if my child becomes unwell during the school day? 

Our usual first aid/sick bay procedures apply, and you will be contacted to collect your child should he/she become unwell at school. We ask that if you are contacted to collect your child that you do so as soon as possible so we can limit the number of students waiting in our front office. Our front office staff are first aid trained.

Staff or children at school experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, temperature) will be asked to wear a mask. They will be isolated in an appropriate space with suitable supervision.

What if my child, a member of our family, or close contact has been tested for COVID-19?

You need to follow the directions of ACT health. Stay home until you have a negative test result. Here

What if my child, a family member, or a close contact tests positive for COVID-19? 

If a child/ren, or family members of children or another close contact tests positive to COVID-19, all instructions and directions from ACT Health must be followed. This includes instructions and directions provided to the school regarding such an eventuality. This may result in full or partial school closure while site cleaning and contact tracing is undertaken. Here

Additionally, we would ensure that appropriate support is provided by the school to persons and families affected. 

What extra hygiene practices are in place at Sacred Heart during this time?

  • Increased cleaning schedules, personnel, and resources onsite during the school day to wipe down and disinfect high-touch areas and student desks, in addition to regular daily cleaning.
  • Provision of extra hand sanitiser at the front office for all adult and child entry and exit; and in all classrooms. 
  • Continue to provide hand soap and sanitiser so that children can wash their hands frequently, particularly before entering the building in the morning, before and after recess and lunch times; before eating and if moving between rooms.
  • Continue frequent announcements and increased signage around the school to ensure that children are practising good personal hygiene. This means, covering mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing with your arm/elbow, frequent hand washing, not sharing food or drinks, minimising physical contact and practising social distance techniques.
  • Our communal bubblers are closed. 

What other physical distancing routines will be put in place?

  • Children will mostly use the same desk and chair for the entirety of the school day. Movement around the classroom will be minimised. They will stay in their classroom with specialist teachers moving between rooms in most instances. There will be floor seating areas and some shared classroom equipment as necessary to undertake learning each day.
  • Physical distancing of students is not viewed as a necessary strategy by ACT Health. Teachers will be explicitly teaching students to practice good hand washing and sanitising, mask use, and general hygiene routines. 
  • The number of adults per room is limited. Adults must socially distance themselves.
  • Children will need to carry and collect their own lunch boxes and place them in designated places. We will not be using lunch tubs.
  • We will not be sending readers home with the younger children or borrowing library books. Please continue to use online platforms including Wushka, Reading Eggs and EPIC. 
  • Homework? We will ease back into the routines as coming back will be very tiring for students. Keep reading.
  • All children need to bring to school a pencil case with equipment for personal use. These can be left on their chair or in their desk tray overnight while cleaning takes place.
  • We are unable to welcome adults to help in the classrooms until further notice.

What uniform is to be worn? 

Full school summer uniforms will be worn upon return to school. However, until shops are open, some items may be unavailable, especially shoes. Year 6 may also reconsider some items at this time. Appropriate adjustments can be made. Please advise your child’s teacher if your child is out of uniform. 

See our uniform policy on our website. 

The clothing pool is open for click and collect and limited trying on. Refer to SZapp and email for instructions for how to order uniform items.

What days do the children wear their sport’s uniform?

Kinder, Years 1, 2 - Wednesdays and Fridays

Year 3, 4 - Tuesdays and Fridays

Year 5/6 - Tuesdays and Thursdays

Can I send hand sanitiser and tissues to school with my child? 

Yes, in fact we encourage you to do so. Whilst the school has a supply in key locations, should students wish to use their own in addition to that, this would further enhance our hygiene measures at school.

Are the buses running?

All Transport Canberra services will continue to run as per its publicised timetable. 

What about excursions?

As per directions from Catholic Education excursions scheduled for the next while have been cancelled or postponed. Information about rescheduling will be forwarded to parents when confirmed. Planning for end of year events is currently on hold.

Will incursions/external presenters be allowed onsite at the school?

Any incursions/presentations proposed onsite involving external presenters will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, using our risk management procedures and having regard to the educational value of the proposed activity.

Can I take my child to the church?

Yes you can, and are encouraged to visit the church with your child. There are sanitisers at all entrances but remember only 25 people may be in the church at one time.

I’m worried about my child’s mental health. What support is available?

You can discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher(s) or Leadership team members. Mrs Tash Barrenger, our Student Welfare Officer will be available for extra check-ins and support. You, your child or their teacher can organise some time with Mrs B. 

Ms Olivia Bowring-Greer, our CatholicCare School Counsellor, is continuing her work with us. Parents can contact our office for details. Families are welcome to contact CatholicCare directly to access their child and family support services directly. https://catholiccare.cg.org.au/

Our school website has links to many sites and articles on a range of wellbeing and family support topics. Click here

The Catholic Education website has further links to support sites. Click here

I’m worried about my child’s academic progress. What can I do?

Contact your child’s teacher. All teachers and learning support staff will be working to settle students back into learning. We will be looking for signs and will plan with parents to support learning needs promptly and carefully over the remainder of the year. 

What is happening with assessment, reporting and interviews?

We are adapting our schedules and formats for the shortened time frame. We will be issuing reports electronically, via the new COMPASS platform. Information will be provided shortly via the newsletter and email.

What if the situation arises where students will not be able to attend onsite schooling again?

If a situation arises where it is deemed not safe by health authorities for students or staff to be onsite, we would be able to quickly pivot back to Remote Learning as required. As per all our decisions, we continue to be informed by Catholic Education and relevant health authorities in response to circumstances that may exist at that time.

User Guides for Online Platforms

1. MS Teams for video meetings with the class teacher. Microsoft Teams can be accessed online or downloaded (recommended) to a home or mobile device.Click on the guide from CECG about logging into Microsoft Teams in the school environment via:

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2. Google Classroom for all the Google Slides containing the student work.
3. Uploading student work.
  • Parents and students with an iPhone or iPad you actually have a scanner, which uses much less bandwidth than a photo. You can scan any work to send to your teachers using the ‘Notes App’. Open a new note, press the camera button, the option to scan document will pop up. Once the document is scanned, select the 3 dots. Choose how to 'send a copy'. Options include save, email even upload it to google drive.  
  • Upload work to your child's nominated google classroom 'classwork' tab. Your teacher will create 'assignments' for work due and can provide individual feedback to your child on work submitted via the assignment link.
  • Some teachers may ask you to email other work to a nominated address. 

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4. Mathletics Quick Student Guide (3 minute overview of site)

    Mathletics Homepage for more detailed guides (scroll down the page)

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All students in Kinder and Year 1 have a subscription to Reading Eggs. Use the reading sections, not the phonics activities please.
6. Wushka

Wellbeing Support

A list of sites and networks to support family wellbeing

  1. Family_Wellbeing_Support_Resources_CE_COVID_19
  2. eSafety
  3. Parent Link ACT
  4. Building Resilience in Young People Andrew Fuller on Youtube

Resources to support children during the pandemic
  1. Emerging minds
  2. Emerging minds has also published an extensive 'Community Truama Tool Kit' with tools an ideas to support wellbeing 
  3. How to help young children regulate their emotions and behaviours during the pandemic Generation Next

  4. Coronavirus Q&As: Answers to 7 questions your kids may have about the pandemic Generation Next

  5. How to talk to your children about coronavirus: top 10 questions answered Generation Next