Our boys all seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the two additional extension to learning opportunities that have come their way in recent days. The first came in the form of the Care-to-Learn Day shared with the girls and boys of Salvazione Christian School and the second was highlighted through the well-received, wonderfully supported and happily convivial Celebrating Strong Women in Literature Reading Breakfast.
The latter served, in an understated but nonetheless very meaningful way, to bring to the boys’ attention so much literature that is available to us all on the subject of powerful and influential women; from history and on the world stage currently.
As one of our mums observed in her email to me, “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to expose our boys to the role that boys and men play in working for a better society.”
The Care-to-Learn Day proved to be another important ‘crossing the divide’ opportunity for our boys who don’t have too many occasions through which to interact with children from disadvantaged and poorer parts of our city. Moeketsi Motsepe did a wonderful job in planning for and then overseeing the coming together of a creative assortment of activities that kept the children busy and involved.
Some of the activities included:
- Grade 0 – 3 … a number of ‘fun-in-the-sun’ activities that took the children down onto the fields and into the fresh air
- Grade 4 … African games and Zulu reading
- Grade 5 … Coding and the Amazing Race and Music
- Grades 6 and 7 … Creating Dream City Houses out of an assortment of cardboard boxes and throwaways.
Well done to Mr Motsepe and all the teachers from both the schools and to our kitchen staff team for once again providing nourishment and drinks on the day.
An update to The Ridge’s response to COVID-19
Members of The Ridge Executive team sat together on Friday afternoon in order to think through, discuss and decide on the School’s response to a possible Covid-19 outbreak in the country and in Johannesburg, in particular.
Needless to say, this is completely unchartered territory for all of us, as it is for all of you as parents, professionals and, indeed, people intent on doing whatever is needed to look after our loved ones and ourselves. As such, and given the myriad ‘what ifs’ that present us all with the many complex and complicated unknowns, we endeavoured to focus on investigating what authority figures around the world are saying and heeding their advice, learning from what is happening in schools elsewhere in the world, and focusing essentially on what we need to do here at The Ridge to look after and to protect, as best we can, your precious sons.
Our discussions and resultant plans of action are centred around six key areas
Raising the levels of awareness and responsiveness amongst boys and staff:
This will be an ongoing intervention strategy that, as far as the boys are concerned, we, here at The Ridge, will be sharing with you their parents.
Specifically, though, during the course of this week special Covid-19 meetings will have been held with all teaching and admin staff members, with a separate meeting being held with support and service staff personnel, as well.
A special Corvid-19 Assembly has been planned for all our boys – again to take place this week – that will serve to highlight, at appropriate levels, the seriousness of the situation but without wanting to spark unnecessary fear, anxiety and panic.
We trust that parents have taken it upon themselves to provide similar levels of information, comfort and support to their children at a time when their anxiety levels might begin to become somewhat stretched.
Tightening up on the implementation of revised hygiene protocols and practices:
- We have ordered and will be installing sanitizer dispensers in each classroom and in the other well-used rooms and meeting venues throughout the school. Teams of people will be assigned to make sure that the dispensers are refilled as needed
- We have ordered and will be placing boxes of tissues in each classroom but would ask that boys bring their own to school as well
- Boys, staff and parents will be encouraged to make use of bathroom facilities that will have been well-stocked with soap and hand towels
- New posters have been ordered that will be promoting hand-washing and respiratory hygiene.
- We will not supply the boys with facemasks but should parents prefer for their lads to wear a facemask during his days here at school, we are happy to accommodate such requests
- Other hygiene-related messages will be communicated through to the boys and staff members on a regular basis. These will include sneezing or coughing into a clean tissue, discarding the tissue in a waste bin immediately afterwards, sanitizing hands on entering the classroom and before leaving, etc
Working to better understand the School’s role in identifying and then dealing with people who are not feeling well:
- First off, there will be many of us who, as the winter months close in, will experience days when they are feeling a little off colour. These asymptomatic boys and staff members will be looked after here at school and will be carefully monitored as they go about participating in a normal day’s programme.
- We will expect parents to carefully monitor their son’s symptoms should he become ill. Please do not send your boy to school if he is not well and certainly not if he is running a fever, has a headache and has developed a cough.
- As there is no medication or vaccine available in the asymptomatic period of the Covid-19 virus, it is critical that safety precautions be reinforced to protect others within the school.
- Washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- When coughing or sneezing, covering the mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue.
- Cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces, and spaces that may have become contaminated.
- Avoiding close contact with someone who has possibly acquired tha Covid-19 infection.
Working to better understand the School’s role in identifying and then dealing with people presenting with possible Covid-19 symptoms:
- It is expected that boys or members of staff who present with what might prove to be the Novel Coronavirus will not be well enough to come to school.
- These people or their parents ought to seek medical care and advice as soon as possible.
- Anyone who is confirmed to be carrying Covid-19, should follow the medical advice to remain at home for a period of 21 days of self-quarantine and then to get special clearance from their treating healthcare providers before coming back to school. They will require a doctor’s clearance certificate before returning to school.
- When coughing or sneezing, the sick person must cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue, throw tissues away immediately and wash their hands straight away or as soon as possible.
- The School will ensure regular cleaning and disinfecting of any frequently touched objects or surfaces that the sick boy or staff member may have come into contact with.
- It will be important, as much as we are able to, to maintain a record of other boys and staff members who might have come into contact with the sick boy or staff member.
Exploring of a viable strategy and related contingency plan that will allow for remote learning to take place should the school be forced to close for a period of time:
It goes without saying that should a remote teaching and learning system be forced upon us here at The Ridge, not only would it be something completely new for boys, teachers and parents, but it would require a good deal of bedding down.
In addition, the understandably more tactile, hands-on, learn-through-play as experienced in the ECD and JP Phases would, by-in-large, be lost to the boys for a period of time.
We are considering a number of digital options for teachers to make use of:
- To begin with, we would set time aside to train staff in the use of certain screen-based teaching and learning platforms.
- We would make use of emails and our Adam admin system as normal.
- Certain modifications might need to be made to staff computers to give them access to their home-based boys, Video Conferencing systems, etc.
- The boys and their parents would be given important guidelines, instructions and information that would enable them to link up with their teachers.
Prevent the spread of social stigma around Covid-19 in the workplace:
For most people Covid-19 is a disease that can be overcome. What is important is that we talk positively and emphasize the effectiveness of prevention and treatment measures. We must encourage the sharing of facts and prevent the spread of misinformation that stigmatizes people who acquire Covid-19, as this might …
- Cause people to hide their illness to avoid discrimination
- Prevent people from seeking healthcare immediately if symptoms arise
- Discourage people from adopting healthy behaviours that prevent the spread of Covid-19
We are mindful, above all else, that we must seek to remain calm so as not to elicit panic and unhelpful overreaction through miscommunication. As we go about implementing this plan of action, we will endeavour to do so in measured ways so as not to cause an increase in the anxiety levels for the boys. Our aim being to retain, as much as possible, a semblance of normality and business-as-usual for them and, indeed, for us all.
On a Lighter Note:
On a much lighter note please enjoy a little wisdom from Winnie the Pooh …
“Where are we going Piglet?” asked Pooh.
“We need to get supplies,” said Piglet. “For Coronavirus”
“Ahh,” said Pooh, nodding in understanding. ‘Things like bread, milk, cough mixture, tissues and cat litter even though we don’t have a cat?”
Piglet did a little laugh, and a sort of leap and a bit of a cough. “No,” said Piglet. “No, those aren’t the sort of supplies we need at all! What we need are family sized bags of chocolate buttons, massive Toblerone, jelly babies and crunchies and a freezer full of stuffed crust pizzas, and all of the Prosecco that we can possibly carry, so that when we get quarantined we won’t mind it even slightly. THOSE are supplies.”
All of a sudden, Pooh thought that the idea of coronavirus didn’t seem quite so bad, and actually, getting quarantined with Piglet and their supplies really didn’t sound such a terrible thing after all. “Oh Piglet.” Said Pooh. “I really do think you are a very wise animal.”
Pam Tudin’s not to be missed talk here at The Ridge on Thursday, 12th March evening:
Fortnite, FOMO and Other F words
In this talk she will gives us the real inside scoop on what is going down in the heads, hearts and other body parts of our tween and teen boys. Whether your budding teen is a passionate Gamer, a potential YouTuber, a WhatsApp junkie, a TikTok addict or a secret sender of sexts, Pam provides the real hands on skills for helping US to help our boys manage their online lives. She offers her insights, pragmatic approach, large doses of humour and most importantly ways to have the hard conversations.
Buckle up for the ride. It is a wild one but, with this talk, you’ve got this!
Pam Tudin is a Clinical Psychologist and author of “Get off Your Screen, Granny Died!”
A Final Word
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
There is much, on both a global scale as well as back home in beautiful South Africa, that is causing, for many of us, a few sleepless nights and certainly some moments when we have to wonder as to surreal nature of much of what we are living through.
In my experience, having been around the block a few times, it is at these moments when, as we seek some deeper understanding, a broader perspective, and to find a few fathomable answers, that the spiritual part of who we are can come to the fore in ways that are sometimes unexpected but nonetheless welcome.
In my Ash Wednesday message to the assembly two weeks ago, I touched on the opportunities that this Lenten time of the year can offer each of us. Opportunities, if we choose to engage them, to reflect, to repent and to be restored. It is in and through the process of restoration that the spiritual side of our nature is able to experience a degree of solace, to feel refreshed through hearts more alive to our blessings, and to find, through this honest time of renewal, a deeper semblance of peace.
Irene Morrick has been teaching our senior primary boys a few new hymns and choruses. The lyrics of this one, entitled, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), are worth taking to heart. No matter what, if any, our faith may be, these words can prove to be cathartic.
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made strong Hillsong UNITED
I wish you all peaceful hearts and best wishes