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18 January 2022

Back to school – but not as we know it

As South Australia deals with the highest number of daily covid-19 cases of the…

As South Australia deals with the highest number of daily covid-19 cases of the nearly two-year pandemic, the start of the 2022 school year will look very different.

But, importantly, no Blackfriars student will be turned away.

As per State Government directions, endorsed by Catholic Education South Australia, the 2022 school year will start on Wednesday 2 February, with students in Reception, Years 1, 7, 8 and 12 attending school and all other students learning online until Friday 11 February.

This will allow the school to minimise the number of students on campus ahead of an expected drop in covid-19 infections in the wider community.

Blackfriars Principal David Ruggiero said students of essential workers, regardless of their year level, would also be able to attend school.

“Vulnerable students and students whose families are unable to resolve appropriate supervision arrangements for online learning at home during this period should attend school and supervision for online learning will be made available,” Mr Ruggiero said.

“These plans for teaching and learning in the first few weeks of Term 1 have been made with the safety and wellbeing of our school community in mind and to support learning continuity for our students.”

Monday 31 January and Tuesday 1 February will be student-free days. Supervised care will be available for children whose families are unable to make alternative arrangements.

On these two days, there will be opportunities for families/students to collect materials prepared by their teachers to assist in their online learning.

“Similarly, IT support will be provided on these days, particularly for students new to Blackfriars, to ensure they can access our online systems,” Mr Ruggiero, pictured, said.

Families of Reception and Year 1 students starting at Blackfriars on Wednesday 2 February will be allowed to take their child to their classroom and collect them at day’s end, leaving as quickly as possible.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said that while the 2022 return to school would look a lot different to what parents and students were used to, the government had put students first.

“This plan is all about balancing the learning needs of our kids, while also ensuring they stay safe,” Mr Marshall said.

“While we understand there will be disruptions to the start of 2022, and it’s going to be challenging for a lot of families … this back-to-school plan is fully supported by the health and education experts in our State, and I’m certain it is the right way to go.”

Mr Ruggiero said one of his favourite poems, God Knows, by Minnie Louise Haskins, was apt during these challenging times.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

“I have the image of God, like a parent holding the hand of their toddler, holding us with a deep sense of trust, security and unconditional love,” Mr Ruggiero said.

“For all of us this year, we may need to clasp that hand a little firmer.”

For more information on the return to school, see the letter attached.