College Principal's Need to Know 8 October 2021

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Penola Friends, 

Term 3 has been one that most of us would like to gladly put behind us ! I would like to congratulate each one of you for your continued efforts and commitment to our fine college where learning and wellbeing are our focus. During Term 3, I know it has been particularly challenging and demanding for students who have remained in remote learning mode for an extensive period of time where your resilience has been tested many times. Thank you for ensuring your child has a positive learning environment and the good daily routines have been maintained. Your guidance, love and support of your children has certainly allowed for the best possible outcomes for them personally and academically.  I have been incredibly impressed with the high levels of learning engagement by our students that were made possible by the dedicated and professional teachers of Penola. 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 !


Return to school roadmap at Penola Term 4 2021

The return to school in Term 4 is one that will be carefully managed with the health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff at the forefront. We understand that students have participated in remote learning to the best of their ability at home with the support and guidance of their teachers, parents and guardians.

Our aim is to provide a clear, safe and realistic plan that will enable students in Years 7-12 to return to reintegrate back in a way that allows them to feel connected to our learning community without feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Returning back will allow them to adjust to face to face learning and re-establish relationships with peers and teachers at the college. With this in mind, the Return to College Roadmap Plan is one that will allow them to start their return on 25 October (Week 4B Term 4).

Year 12: Return to college on 18 October (Week 3A) for Study Workshops and final class HSC Exam preparation. Year 12 will then start their STUVAC time allowing them to complete 2 weeks of independent study (25 October- Friday 5 November). HSC Examinations will commence on Tuesday 9 November and end on Friday 3 December.

HSC 2021 Exam Timetable NESA

Year 11: Year 11 students who are currently studying an Early Commencement VET Course or Accelerated Studies of Religion2 (SOR2) are required to attend HSC Study Workshops focusing on the final revision for the upcoming HSC Exams.

Year 11 will return to normal classes on Monday 25 October. Further to this, Year 11 are in the process of currently dropping either 1 or 2 Units of study (one subject normally) after completing their online survey nominating the subject that they will drop and confirm their HSC Package of study. Upon returning to the college, they will also be required to review and confirm all details on their NESA course enrolments for 2021-22. After doing these tasks, Year 11 students will formally become our new Year 12 2022 students commencing their HSC year! 

Year 7-10: All students in Years 7-10 can return to the college for face to face learning on Monday 25 October.

A parent survey will be released through COMPASS at this time to collect information from you regarding your child’s return to school. Please look out for this as it will be sent after 18 October in the lead up to students returning. Please look out for this and reply to us to assist us in our planning. Your cooperation in completing this is greatly appreciated and will assist us in our planning to a return to face to face learning on school site.


School buses will resume on Monday 25 October. Please note that there are some changes for the Busways services and these are communicated in the bus timetable link below. The Blue Mountains Bus timetable has remained unchanged to the best of our knowledge.

Busways timetable 25 October 2021



Year 7-10 Student Reports may change to accommodate for the remote learning experience and ability to communicate this information effectively in light of this situation. The Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has announced that schools will still report but will have flexibility in this and are not restricted to an A-E grade reporting structure. At Penola we will examine this closely and may ask for feedback from our Parents as Partners Hub group to help us shape this to meet your needs as an appropriate form of feedback for your child’s learning progress. At Penola we have also used the Student Learning Performance grade (SLP) to help provide detailed information about your child’s learning progress, as well as their ability to work collaboratively on team tasks. Your child’s social emotional development is important to their wellbeing and in turn their overall learning progress.


The Penola Catholic College community will follow the Guidelines for a COVID safe school based on the advice from NSW Health to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and parents at all times. There will be further information regarding the COVID safe expectations, however please note the following which will promote upon returning to the college:

  • Ask that all students Years 7-12  and staff to wear masks at school

  • Request that physical distancing practices are adhered to at all times

  • Follow hand hygiene practices by washing and sanitising regularly

  • Cleaning of spaces daily that are used by students and staff

  • Ensuring students stay in their year groups. No whole school assemblies in Term 4.

  • All parents, contractors and visitors will need to check in using the QR code when coming onsite.

Thank you once again for your ongoing support during these challenging times. I am confident that together, we will be able to do the very best to support your child’s learning and wellbeing needs. We are very excited about finally returning to face to face learning in Term 4 on 25 October and the opportunity to feel more connected with each other as a community, as we continue to build our relationships with each other and feel a renewed sense of wellbeing.

Please stay safe, positive and connected to our Penola community. Follow us on Facebook Penola Catholic College Emu Plains and the Penola Parents Facebook page by sending a request to join our group.

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.

God Bless

Mrs Tania Cairns

Principal Leader