St Leonard’s College Prioritises Community Wellbeing

St Leonard’s College Prioritises Community Wellbeing

17 April 2020 

St Leonard’s College was one of the first independent schools to transition to online learning on Tuesday 17 March, and has continued to place staff, student and family wellbeing at the very centre of the College’s approach to this new educational environment.

The rapidly changing educational landscape amidst evolving government directions and high economic uncertainty has placed extraordinary demands on schools to undertake unparalleled risk assessments to ensure the continued online safety and wellbeing of both staff and students.

Stuart Davis, St Leonard’s College Principal, shares, “Our staff and students have been tremendously proactive and positive in their agile adoption of our remote teaching and learning model. Parental feedback continues to be overwhelmingly affirmative and encouraging.”

A fundamental element of the College’s success has been the vigilant and comprehensive support of both staff and students. Mr Davis says,

“Maintaining the online safety and wellbeing of our St Leonard’s College community members has been paramount in our evolving operations.”

“We have undertaken the identification and support of staff, students and families who require additional levels of emotional, academic or physical assistance during these uncertain times. We established a complimentary  meal delivery service for our College families with parents who are healthcare workers and emergency response personnel and we’ve seen the active demonstration of the strong community spirit that St Leonard’s College is renowned for via this initiative.”

This free meal delivery service will help parents manage their responsibilities to their family and to those who rely on them to perform their professional role. Today marks the first meal delivery service to the homes of these families. The service will continue to be provided each Friday in compliance with social distancing rules and regulations. The meals are delivered frozen and have been prepared by our catering staff and parent volunteers. When our College community was asked to volunteer to prepare meals at the end of last term, the response was outstanding with over 160 people volunteering to prepare meals.

With regards to the mental health and wellbeing of our students, our St Leonard’s College psychologists continue to operate online within the Junior School, Middle School and Senior School. The College continues to ensure the regular communication of mental health and online safety resources available, both internally and externally, to all of our community members including staff, parents and students.

Ensuring the continued professional development of staff to facilitate rapid adaptation to the changing needs of students in this new environment has also been a key focus for the College.

A virtual staff conference was hosted by the College this week on Tuesday 14 April before students commenced the following day. Lesson structures have been reviewed and enhanced to support student learning and engagement. Timetables have been revised to facilitate more physical activity and breaks. Homework levels have been reduced to enable less screen time and enhanced student wellbeing. Measures have been implemented to facilitate additional learning aides and support staff resources within the online classrooms. Student extension programs are in place to ensure the ongoing development of student talent, and a variety of cocurricular online clubs are in development to support student social connection.

Mr Davis says, “We recognise that the quality of the education we offer is founded upon the world-class calibre of our teachers and staff. We are resolute in our commitment to retaining this valuable resource to the very best of our ability.”

The College has provided a 10% fee rebate for term 2 for Prep to Year 12. Mr Davis says, “Numerous families have shared their generous intent with me to donate this 10% rebate back to our College refugee and financial hardship scholarship program. This is yet another indicator of the tremendous kindness and care that exists within our St Leonard’s College community and the dedication to supporting the wellbeing of others.”

Parents of ELC students can choose to either take a temporary leave of absence from the program during the College closure period in term 2 (with no fees charged) or accept a 50% reduction in fees for term 2 while still receiving access to online learning resources. Any families experiencing financial hardship have also been invited to contact the College to determine any additional financial support options.

To learn more about the St Leonard’s College online learning program, please click here.

The image above features our Community Coordinator, Bronwyn Betro, and our College Principal, Stuart Davis, both of whom have been directly involved in the meal delivery service.


Important Sources of Information for COVID-19 for our College Community:


Please see the below-listed previous communications to our parent community regarding COVID-19 and online learning from our College Principal, Mr Stuart Davis.

Monday 16 March 2020

Excerpt below:

As a school principal, I believe my priority is to our young people, my staff and all of the families that constitute our community and to this end I have made the decision, with the full support of the College Council and Executive, to create a student free zone and to move to online learning effective from Tuesday 17th March.

This will mean that students will not attend school and they will commence an online approach that will commence from 10.00am tomorrow and operate according to your child’s normal timetable, noting day 2 for Prep to year 4 and day 7 for years 5 to 12.

Our usual start time of 8.30am will apply from Wednesday onwards.

Thursday 12 March 2020

Dear Parents

Assessing the Health of Your Children
Whilst not wishing to raise anxiety levels, I would like to request parents err on the side of caution and keep their children at home when they are feeling unwell and most especially when they are displaying symptoms of viral infection such as a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever with a temperature that exceeds 38°C.  I recognise that there are days in which we may have doubts as to their likely capacity to manage the day, or in which we may be faced with significant issues at work, but it is important that we manage these remaining weeks of term with care and consideration for all.  This request does, of course, relate to all school-based events.

Parent Teacher Nights
Parent Teacher Nights will proceed as normal until further notice. Whilst I am mindful that we engage with your children during the day, I trust that you will not feel it discourteous if staff do not shake hands when greeting parents and understand they are exercising a recommended precaution.  Please note that hand sanitisers will be located near entrance/exit doors.

Community Day Fair Cancellation
Following repeated reviews, I have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Community Day Fair (CDF).  Those who have attended the CDF will appreciate the multitude of people who look forward to this brilliant annual event who are not directly related to our parent, student, staff or alumni community.
I would like to acknowledge the immense amount of work that has been undertaken by our incredibly dedicated CDF parents team led by Bronwyn Betro, who will be heartbroken to know that their efforts for 2020 will not be rewarded by observing the benefit to the community which they are passionate about.
Please note all CDF wristband tickets purchased to date will be refunded. Our Silent Auction will still proceed with all funds going directly towards our local, national and international Social Action Programs. Further information will follow on this.

Potential for School Closures
Daniel Andrew’s recent commentary and the response of similarly placed nations indicate that it is not if but when they will close schools.  At last count thirteen nations had closed schools and Australia currently sits 21st in the rankings of countries with the most infected citizens as published in the report by the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre. If these school closures were to occur, then it is most likely to happen in the next seven schools days so as to be able to take advantage of the Easter holiday period.  Whilst we are preparing teachers and students for the potential to engage in online learning, I am mindful that we will also need to make clear our expectations to parents if we are to minimise the disruption to the education of our young people, especially our most senior students at this sensitive time.  Having visited and observed the operational day of remote schools with 30 students in a class being taught by a teacher several hundred kilometres away, I am confident that we can be successful in minimising disruption.  I will be writing to you during the course of this weekend to articulate our approach in greater depth and to confirm the infrastructure required within each home.  We have surveyed all of our staff and are confident that we can ensure they are operational.

General Hygiene 
The College has recently adopted a cleaning process that is more commensurate with the cleaning practices of health centres to ensure we are proactively protecting our community. Students in years 5 to 12 also received an email from myself earlier this week reminding them of effective hygiene practices, and our younger year levels have been directly reminded by our staff.  Posters reiterating these hygiene practices remain in every bathroom, and all classrooms continue to be supplied with tissues and hand sanitisers. A very simple way in which parents can assist includes reminding your children of effective general hygiene practises. It should not escape any of us that role modelling remains a wonderful teacher.

I would like to finish by expressing my deep appreciation for your support and understanding that the real test of a community is how it responds to adversity.  I have no doubt that we will experience anxiety, frustrations and systems failures in the coming months, but I am confident that we can work through these if we maintain a healthy perspective and a deep respect and appreciation for all that we are seeking to achieve.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Davis

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Dear Parents

In assessing the evolving impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the health and wellbeing of our St Leonard’s College students, staff and community remains paramount. An important update on the coronavirus as it pertains to our College is outlined below, in addition to our risk management and response planning.

Travel Plans for School Holidays

All families are advised to give careful consideration to travel plans for the upcoming school holiday period given the continuing spread of the virus internationally. It is imperative that parents take full responsibility to be aware of any/all travel advice and respond accordingly. For the latest information and advice to potential travellers, please click here.

Consideration must be given to the potential 14-day quarantine period upon your return to Australia, along with your potential impacted capacity to return should governments decide to enforce further border protection response actions.

College Events

There are numerous incursions and excursions planned in the coming months and our involvement in them will be given due consideration at the appropriate time.

Potential School Closure Risk Management and Planning

A potential school closure is an extreme measure that would only be implemented in accordance with official government requirements.

I would like to assure our parent community that our commitment to providing exemplary teaching and learning is unwavering. Our College’s Executive group have been proactively considering potential implications and planning accordingly to ensure we are extremely well prepared to address this scenario should it arise.

Our teachers are undertaking training in the delivery and management of online learning platforms.  Commencing this week, students will be introduced to the technology and approaches to learning that will allow us to support their learning should there be a College closure. Parents will also receive further information relating to the requirements to facilitate online learning and how they will be able to support their children, especially our senior students who will have an array of assignments and assessments. It is important that we reduce the anxiety that may accompany any deferral of assessments by reinforcing the wisdom and understanding of the examining bodies regarding the potential disruption students may experience.

In terms of ‘at-home’ requirements for families, you will need to ensure you have an Internet connection and students in years 3 to 12 will be required to download the Microsoft Teams app to their device and sign in using their school credentials.  The Microsoft Teams app runs on all devices, please click here to download.  Students from Prep to Year 2 will also be provided with a login for the Microsoft Teams app, as well as their own personal login to STL Link during any extended closure. This will enable access to teacher-driven learning activities on STL Link and class meetings using the Microsoft Teams app similar to our older students. Note that, while Prep to Year 2 students are not required to bring a device to school each day, during a closure they would need access to a device at home. If families do not currently have a device for shared use during any potential closure, the school would be able to loan families an iPad and arrangements would be made at that time. Junior School classes would also continue to communicate with parents and students at home via the use of Seesaw.

Students and families in our ELC would continue to find updated information on the STL Link ELC blogs, and during any potential closure, we would provide these families with access to Seesaw to maintain close contact with the College and to ensure our students can continue to be effectively engaged in their learning and development.

If students are individually or collectively not able to attend school, we will run classes that align with our current timetable in relation to commencement times and duration, to ensure that we maintain routine and normality.

It is advisable for Middle School and Senior School students to ensure they have ready access to their textbooks and other essential materials for study including folios at home. Consequently, students are advised to take all of their books and learning resources home with them to ensure they have access to these resources in the event of a school closure, rather than leaving them in their locker. Students should bring into school each day only the books that they require for that particular day’s learning.

In the event of a College closure, our Mentors will continue to support our students on a daily basis to ensure they are managing these arrangements effectively; assisting in the resolution of any individual issues that may arise whilst supporting their emotional and academic wellbeing.

Coronavirus Symptoms and Prevention

To help protect our College community against the coronavirus, please note the importance of hygiene and an awareness of the symptoms as detailed below.

Symptoms:  Fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath

Protection against the virus:

  • Practising good sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses:
    • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue that covers your mouth and nose.
    • Dispose of the tissue immediately afterward.
    • If unable to use a tissue, sneeze or cough into your elbow – not your hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
  • Dispose of tissues.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 meters from people)
  •  If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Further information is also available via the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alternatively, the Victorian Department of Health number is 1800 675 398.

State and Federal Responses and Information Resources

The College is remaining abreast of all government advice, which is constantly changing including, but not limited to:

Contact Points for Staff and Parents

Parents and staff should direct any coronavirus health-related concerns to my office directly at [email protected].  I will continue to provide the College community with further updates in due course.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Davis