Makhanda’s independent schools have been up and running for some four weeks already and we asked principals about the start of their year.
Kingswood College – College Head Colleen Vassiliou
Our pupils are delighted to be back with their friends on campus and to return to some semblance of normalcy. Our Kingswood staff are energised and while parents are cautious, they are supportive of the steps we have taken to safeguard their sons and daughters. There has been a really positive energy on campus.
Hopes for 2021?
This year we wish to depart from a point of gratitude. We hope to see our pupils continue to flourish in various spheres but we also know that we need to be more intentional in checking in on their well-being. The same applies to our entire Kingswood Community – we need to remember to take care of each other and ourselves as there is still a far way to go in the battle against this pandemic.
This year’s challenges?
We are in the midst of a pandemic and this is our biggest challenge. We plan to address this by ensuring all protocols continue to be kept in place so that we are able to keep our community safe and healthy. The challenge too is not knowing when things might change. In an institution where planning is essential, we can only address this uncertainty by being flexible, prepared and compassionate.
Advice to parents for 2021?
We are all living through a pandemic at present and although we do not know when it will be over, we know we will come out stronger at the end of it. Our pupils have, over the course of the last year displayed essential character traits of resilience, grit, flexibility and hard work. As parents we need to ensure that we check our own well-being as children see us as role models and feed off our opinions and level of motivation. Be honest with your children and remember to help them see the glass as half full rather than as half empty.
As much normality as we can
St Andrew’s College – Headmaster Alan Thompson
How has the start of the school year been?
The year has started well. We established a ‘bubble’ right at the start and we have had no Covid cases at all since we have opened. We have run a full programme from the start.
What do you hope for your school in 2021?
I hope that our staff and students will stay healthy, and that we can avoid any disruptions that may result from a potential third wave of Covid. I hope to contribute to our students wellness through giving them as much normality as we can within the constraints that we operate.
What challenges do your teachers and learners face this year and how do you plan to address them?
I know that everybody has been affected by Covid, and exhaustion, anxiety, and changed livelihoods are manifest. As a school we need to acknowledge this, and work with our community to rebuild. We’ll certainly not take a normal school year for granted again!
What is your advice to parents for 2021?
Parents should work together with the schools, that our efforts are intentional and congruent, with the welfare of our students in mind. Amidst all the disruption, remember that time lost is unlikely to be regained, so do everything possible to minimise any time loss.