It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. The famous line from the Charles Dickens classic, A Tale of Two Cities has never seemed more apt. There is no doubt that the last few months in Western Australia, and indeed the world, has been an unprecedented time. A rapidly evolving situation, with seemingly endless challenges, restrictions, and adaptations, has forced us all to become used to a new normal. As a School we are acutely aware of the significant impact Covid-19 has had on many of our families and we remain available to support our families in need. Yet despite the significant challenges in 2020, in many ways it has been a time of profound learning as we reflect on the things that really matter in our lives, most notably the importance of always being connected to our family and friends.

I have been very impressed with the way our community has responded to the challenges of dealing with Covid-19. The agility of our students and staff to quickly move to Distance Learning mode and back again was nothing short of exceptional. The support of our families has likewise been outstanding, and I sincerely thank all members of our community for their understanding as we have navigated these challenging times and come out the other side, stronger and more united than ever.

Phase 4 and 5 Restrictions

Our community will be aware that Phase 4 restrictions came into effect in Western Australia on Saturday 27 June. Given that only one week of Term 2 remained after that point, the School has kept the existing Phase 3 restrictions in place. However, the planned introduction of Phase 5 restrictions on Saturday 18 July, pending no setbacks or second wave, will see the School return to a more normal mode of operation from the start of Term 3.

The restrictions in Phase 5 are relatively minimal and will allow the resumption of key School events such as assemblies, Chapels, excursions, and camps. Rest assured that good hygiene practices, additional cleaning and Covid safe reminders will remain in place until further notice. The School’s Executive Team are currently reviewing the School calendar to determine which upcoming events can be reinstated. However, it should also be noted that it is not the School’s intention to reinstate events missed in Term 1 or 2 as there is simply not enough room in the calendar across Term 3 and 4 to do so. Further details regarding restrictions for Term 3 will be sent to all families in due course.

Student Use of Social Media

Student use of social media in the evenings and on weekends is an issue that continues to cause problems at School, with many of the behavioural problems being addressed by staff often connected to social media. This seems logical given that such a large percentage of our students are actively using social media, with the issues that used to take place at the canteen or oval now taking place on Snapchat, Instagram or other social media platforms.

During Term 3, we will again be reminding students of the potential issues with social media use and educating them on appropriate social media communication. We will also be highlighting that our Student Code of Conduct explicitly states that all students have the right to be respected and valued and in turn they all have a responsibility not to bully, harass, intimidate or discriminate against anyone, either in person or through social media platforms.

The School is also engaging with a range of external providers to visit and present to students and parents on the dangers of social media. This topic has been a regular feature of our Connect, Learn, Engage parent seminars which will be returning once Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.

So what can parents do to prevent the negative impact of social media? The following tips are by no means exhaustive, however they may give parents a starting point when discussing the use of social media with their children.

1. Control the use of electronic devices: Restricting the duration of device use is the first and most obvious step in protecting children from the negatives associated with social networking.

2. Control of privacy: While most popular social networking sites have some form of privacy setting, it is very easy to ignore or change them. It is important to ensure that your child’s privacy settings are set at the highest level in order to prevent unsavoury characters from entering his/her digital domain.

3. Monitoring of contacts: There is a fine line between monitoring and hovering, and every parent must devise their own parameters for controlling the number and type of contacts the child has on his/her social networking accounts. However, it is not unreasonable to set rules that your child can only allow people that they know (and the parents know of) into their contact list.

4. Knowledge is power: It is important for parents to know all about the benefits and challenges of social media and it is equally important for you to have regular open and honest conversations about these issues with your child.

While these tips are helpful, the main point is to encourage your child to utilise social media as a tool for good and to speak up if they see inappropriate content or behaviour when they are engaging on social media. Furthermore, it is important that your child understands that he/she can always come to you or another trusted adult, such as a teacher, if they ever need help navigating the issues that can arise on social media. Most critically, please encourage your child to think about possible impacts before posting anything on social media as the reach and lifespan of a post or message can be unlimited.

July School Holidays

As the term draws to a close, I would again like to thank our entire community for your continued support during these unprecedented times. The upcoming holidays are an important time for us all to recharge and reset for second semester. To our Year 12s, this is especially important as you head towards the final hurdles before graduation.  With restrictions easing and intrastate travel now permitted, I hope our families will take the opportunity to travel and explore our home state.

To all families, stay safe and well and I look forward to welcoming you back on campus as we return to a more normal mode of operation in Term 3.

Every Blessing.

Benjamin Lomas