Update 1, 2022 on SMC Response to Coronavirus (COVID – 19)

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Friends,

It is with pleasure that I welcome you and your children to the 2022 school year.  The staff of the College joins me in these warm wishes of welcome, and we look forward with much enthusiasm to living out the 2022 College Theme, ‘Travel Together on our Journeys Ahead’.

What journeys await us!  Special welcome if your family becomes Monican for the first time.  It is always our intention to provide Monican families (students and parents and friends) with up-to-date and accurate information.  Of course, COVID is the major topic for communication between home and school right now.

St Monica’s College, Epping totally is committed to providing a COVID safe environment for all members of our school, and this has been further enhanced with the appointment of Mr Antonio Novembre to the role of Risk & Compliance Officer.  This is a full time appointment and Antonio’s credentials, and his abilities will truly strengthen our responses to all situations confronting us.

Our overwhelming intention is to remain open, and not need to resort to remote learning.  I expect that parents will support this.  Ultimately, Governments make decisions for schools.

The College leaders and staff also fully respect that many parents and family members and students have anxiety, perhaps uncertainty, and hold genuine concerns that we shall all remain safe and well.  This is a serious time in our history.

A short list of what already is in place for a COVID safe environment at SMC

  • Ventilation – mechanical and natural
  • Sanitization – hand washing and availability of sanitisers across the campuses
  • Strong encouragement of social distancing – mandated and recommended
  • Air purifier acquisitions
  • Face coverage through masks for all staff and students indoors

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and Positive Results

All students and staff are eligible for rapid antigen testing.  Rapid antigen testing will be voluntary though is our recommendation.

This means of testing of students is provided to families via the College free of charge by the Victorian State Government.  Twice weekly it is expected that students will self-test using the RAT at home.  The testing devices will come in a pack of five and a pack will be distributed during the weeks 1 and 3 in first term.

The College has not yet received our delivery allocation of rapid antigen tests (RATs) but their delivery is imminent.  At SMC, we shall hand over the kits to each student to bring home This will occur on Thursday 3 February 2022.  Each kit will include an instruction sheet and a guide of what to do in case of the testing being positive.

Positive test results are to be lodged through the Department of Health systems (Rapid antigen tests/Coronavirus Victoria) or through the hotline 1800 675 398.  Additionally we at SMC need to know for notification to our community (privacy always fully respected and for the care of those who are positive).  This is done through phoning 9409 8800 or emailing operations@stmonicas-epping.com

Should your child test positive to COVID, a seven day period of isolation is required.  I shall report to the College daily on our situation here, always strictly respecting privacy.

Where a student is a household contact of a positive case (that is they have spent more than four hours with someone who has COVID inside a house, accommodation or care facility) the school must be informed and the child isolate for seven days and not attend school during that period.

Attendance

All students are expected to attend onsite unless they are formally registered as being home -schooled.  Parent preference is not an approved reason for students to be absent from school during COVID.  This is clear Government regulation.

Students who are required to isolate or quarantine will be supported in the same way as students with an extended absence due to illness or injury, with learning materials provided to support their continued learning.  The Government does not require any school to provide a full remote learning program in these circumstances.

QR Codes

Visitors to the College are mandated to check in with a QR code when entering school buildings, not school grounds.

Parents are permitted to enter buildings on site for student pick-up and drop-off purposes and must check in with the QR code.

Three important matters to include:

  1. The College has a Safety Management Plan which replicates Government regulations
  2. Do not allow your child to attend school if unwell or symptomatic. Have them tested please
  3. The College recommends in the strongest terms that students are vaccinated. All students over 12 years of age are eligible.  Families will make their own decision on this matter

Parents and Friends, together we travel a COVID safe journey.  We travel most comfortably when we are companions to each other.  Monicans are strongest when we pray and persevere.

Brian E. Hanley OAM

College Principal