I hope you and your families remain well in the current and unprecedented circumstances. Since the government announcement that schools will remain closed until at least 20th April we have found ourselves in uncharted waters that presented us as a Christian learning community with many difficult challenges.
Teachers have been engaging students using Distance Learning which comprised of:
Online face to face tuition when appropriate,
Use of PowerPoint presentations (some with voiceovers), Recording classes,
Other apps and subject specific software,
Setting work and assignments by email and correcting it . Videoing lessons for student access.
It has been a challenging and rapidly evolving situation. Distance Learning requires much greater work for the teaching staff, parental oversight and student responsibility than normal, particularly regarding the etiquette of engaging online and in returning assigned work before deadlines expire. I want to sincerely thank you for your hard work and commitment to this new mode of education. As the weeks have gone by we have had fewer issues with student engagement and I would like to commend all the students on their excellent work to date.
This has been a huge learning curve for the whole school community and we do understand that recent events have created huge pressure for parents. The College has been more than conscience of the difficulties of managing several children with different demands at home, caring for relatives and neighbours, being confined to the house and in many cases working yourselves all of which can be very stressful. It really has been a challenge keeping all the balls in the air.
Examination classes are naturally anxious but it remains the intention of the Department and the State Exams’ Commission to run all examinations in June and students must work now, cognisant of these deadlines. It is vital that they only listen to advice and news information from official sources and disregard the wild speculation which is the currency of many social media platforms.As we begin a break from classes I would encourage the 3rdand 6thYears to devise a study timetable for the two weeks break and concentrate on revision and previous examination papers whilst remembering to allow for down time and health breaks. Look at this gap as two weeks of opportunity to catch up on areas that need to be addressed.
Year Heads, the Guidance Counsellor, Tutors and teachers have and still are checking in with students and remain available to discuss any issues which students may have. It is imperative that any student who is struggling feels confident that they can reach out to the College Care Team.
The Mock results were posted this week. Regrettably, some corrected scripts had not been returned to the College by external marking companies at the time of posting but to delay would have meant a delay until the College re opened. Where this was the case subject teachers have not been able to upload results. However as soon as they are returned parents/students will be notified. The ongoing feedback from teachers will help the students focus on aspects they need to improve on for their exam preparation.
Just a few thoughts that might help;
Taking Care of Your Mental Health at Home:
Stay informed but set limits for news and social media
The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.
Keep up your healthy routines
Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day. It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress.You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.
• exercise regularly, especially walking - you can do this even if you need to self-quarantine
• keep regular sleep routines
• maintain a healthy, balanced diet
• practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
• read a book
• improve your mood by doing something creative
Stay connected to classmates and friends
It is important to keep in touch with family and friends. As you need to restrict your movements, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example: e-mail; social media; phone and video calls; text messages.
Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.
Wellbeing, Resilience and Distance Learning:
My purpose this day is not seeking security and certainty. It is discovering the very best that is within me. Finding this, I find love, joy, freedom. (Stillness/Sister Stan).
I sincerely hope that you are remaining reasonably calm in this difficult and challenging time. It is a new experience for all but one that requires periods of stillness and calmness in order to find new rhythms to our lives. Every family will have different needs and priorities and can find ways of navigating through this uncertainty. There are also the new dimensions to households with family members in different rooms trying to work, read or study. I understand that it might be very difficult to settle in to a work pattern however it is best to take one day at a time and set daily goals or tasks.
Resilience is central to wellbeing as it helps us build the necessary skills to cope with setbacks. It helps build our emotional strength and this in turn allows us to develop a survival toolkit. For some, it will be keeping a routine and perhaps adding some new relaxation techniques.
Wellbeing is a general term for focusing on healthy lifestyles and each family has a range of activities they enjoy. However, in this new restricted period we have to be creative around what is possible and still address your son’s individual needs. A variety of physical and mental activities can be included in their daily activity list. It is best to negotiate a period around technology. It might be a good idea to prioritise communicating with their classmates or other friends, staying in contact. Whatever is being done, it is worth making sure they take regular breaks by getting fresh air & exercise, drink plenty of water, eat nourishing food and get adequate sleep.
The experience of not knowing what the next day might bring and uncertainty of the future fill many of us with anxiety and fear these days. We are not the first to experience fear collectively. “Do not be afraid” is mentioned sixty seven times in the Bible.
There is our individual experience and responsibility of this crisis, yet there is a clear sense that we are all in this together regardless of religion, background, nationality, race, gender or age.
I would particularly like to thank parents working for our health service at this time. We as a school community greatly appreciate their work and hope they remain safe. At this time of great uncertainty, I would also like to recognise the stellar work of the schools’ teaching , administrative and ancillary staff in ensuring the continuation of learning. This process has been, and will continue to be challenging, however it is vital that both students and teachers continue communicating in an effective manner in attempting to establish some familiarity to what is an unfamiliar scenario for us all. I would ask that parents continue to support their children, especially the graduating class, who are now tasked with learning to work academically in a drastically new environment. We must strive to work together as we so often have in the past. Finally, I pray that you and your families are healthy and safe and that you care for one another.
I would like to finish this letter with the following prayer:
Generous God fill us with compassion and concern for others, young and old, that we may look after one another in these challenging times.
Bring healing to those who are sick with the virus and be with their families.
Strengthen and protect all medical professionals caring for the sick.
Give wisdom to our leaders that they may make the right decisions for the welfare of all people.
We pray in gratitude for all those in our country who will continue to work in the weeks ahead in so many fields of life for the sake of us all. Bless them and keep them safe.
With every best wish,
Various Helpful Links from the National Parents Council – Post Primary
Advice From The Institute Of Guidance Counsellors
Planning For Your Household
Various Study From Home Resources
Stay apart to stand together!
It saves lives.