College Principals COVID update 30 July 2021

We continue our commitment to learning remotely ! HSC 2021- my thoughts going forward.

Dear Parents, Staff and Penola Friends,

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to each one of you for the continued support and commitment to your child’s learning and wellbeing. I recognise that the Delta variant is far more infectious than COVID-19, and as such has led to more time for your child at home engaging in online learning as such. Thank you for ensuring that your child has a positive learning environment and has developed a routine that is enabling them to continue their learning progress regardless of whether they are in Year 7 or Year 12. I have been incredibly impressed with the high levels of learning engagement, students continuing to grow as independent learners and reaching out more when they need help or have critical questions. Congratulations to our Penola parents and students for your amazing support and engagement with us here at our learning and faith community. Together as a community, we are making the best of the current challenges that life presents!

In the last few days there has been a media release regarding the government’s decision for Year 12 students to return to ‘face to face’  teaching and learning on Monday 16 August. As we have all witnessed over recent days, the number of COVID cases have been increasing and the strategy to manage this is through the current tightening of lockdown and the promotion of vaccination provisions that have been upgraded, in an attempt to reduce these statistics. Whilst this announcement has been made, can I reassure you that all sectors of education, including Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, are meeting with Principals and we are communicating our concerns regarding this decision to the government and Premier for the health, safety and welfare of our entire community. As a result, I will work in close partnership with my colleague principals and our Executive Director to express our concerns and reiterate that the absolute priority is the wellbeing and safety of students, families and staff. It is therefore imperative that we continue to work together in partnership to ensure we reach a positive outcome for our HSC 2021 student cohort in particular.

In terms of the details regarding the Trial HSC and HSC itself, there are currently many discussions taking place to determine exactly how this can occur, however there are no firm decisions that have been made regarding this as yet. I fully understand that this phase may cause additional anxiety and concern for students and families. Please understand that students will not be disadvantaged and I will continue to advocate for our HSC students to ensure that equity, fairness and justice are the principles that are applied in this situation. For those students applying for university courses post school, I strongly suggest that you apply for early entry which will be based on your Year 11 and 12 assessment results. Many of our students are to be congratulated for achieving early entry offers already.

Further to this, my strong belief statement to all Year 11 and 12 students, is to remain committed to your hard work and focus towards achieving the award of the HSC in a diligent and conscientious manner as you currently are. Please maintain your preparation in each course, connect with your class teachers practicing your HSC style exam questions and respond to feedback from your teachers. It is in this way, that you will continue to lift your performance standard and achieve your goal of completing the HSC successfully. Stay positive and keep supporting your HSC class members. Together we will achieve the best possible results!

Students at Penola, we miss your beautiful smiles and warm personalities. In the meantime, stay safe, stay calm and stay connected to us here at Penola. We hope to see you on Zoom and shortly in person at Penola when it is safe for you to do so. We will be ready and welcome you with open arms.

May the courage and compassion of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop be with you and your families as you face the challenges that life presents to you all. 

Mrs Tania Cairns  

Principal Leader