The recent announcement by the President that the country will move to Level 1 as from today has been well received across the nation, in most places of work and, as expected, within our educational systems. President Ramaphosa again made it clear, though, that the wearing of masks continues to be mandatory at schools, wherever groups of people gather in private and in public spaces, and that physical distancing remains a priority; once again, in the schooling context, a non-negotiable.
Changes for Schools under Level 1:
For schools, the relaxing of numbers from the 50 maximum at any one time to the 250 persons or less in case of an indoor gathering and 500 persons or less in case of an outdoor gathering has given us the all clear to plan for end of year functions and assemblies, provided that no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue is used, with persons observing a distance of least one and a half metres from each other.
We will make sure to keep parents informed regarding all of the planned for end of year arrangements once we as the Exco team and organising committees have made a final call on the details in each case.
Teaching and Learning Systems:
We are pleased to report that whilst we remain strictly compliant to our health and safety protocols, we have been able to bring the JP back to an almost normal footing again during the past three weeks. With only a handful of lads still not able to come to school, we have been delighted to accommodate the rest in their own designated classroom, albeit while still observing the necessary physical distancing. The JP will reinstate the full five-day school week as from 2nd October.
In the Senior Primary, we will retain the current, modified home classroom system. This ensures that boys are seated at the required 1,5 metres apart, that teachers move between classrooms during the course of a given morning and that, where necessary, smaller numbers of boys in given home classrooms are being accommodated so as not to compromise safety standards. We have also created flexibility within our own internal structures so that the Grade 5 and 6 boys will engage in permanent onsite learning. As from the first week in October, the blended learning system will be adapted in order to focus more on the onsite, at school, teaching and learning. We will still make sure to look after the needs of those few lads who have not been able to return to school due to co-morbidities or their family members whole are likewise potentially compromised.
Covid-19 Update and News:
The home classrooms system was put to the test late last week when a Grade 4 boy in Ms Kinnear’s class tested positive. The lad concerned has recovered quickly from having felt poorly on Thursday and Friday. He is isolating at home for the next 14 days. Ms Kinnear and Ms Lord who taught him on Thursday morning before he went home are also isolating at home as they look to being given the all clear.
We have taken the step of keeping the Grade 4K boys and Ms Lord’s Grade 4 Maths and English boys at home for the next two days as we focus on the two facilities in question being decontaminated and deep cleaned. This is taking place today. We hope that these boys will be able to return to school on Wednesday morning. Parents of the Grade 4-year group as a whole have been asked to pay special attention to their son’s health and to any flu-like symptoms that might manifest in the days immediately ahead.
The three Grade 4 classes have, like all SP grades, been given their own, more spacious home classrooms that, by design, are set apart and so they do not come into direct contact with the rest of the SP. When the boys are outside in the fresh air, at break or whilst at PE, they are wearing masks and are expected to physical distance at all times.
My thanks to the parents of the young fellow in question for having brought the positive test result to our attention as soon as they had been informed. A remind to all parents to please stay in touch with the school along similar lines should it be necessary in the days ahead.
Since the start of term, we have been running morning and early afternoon PE activity sessions for all classes on scheduled days. As we move into Level 1, the expectation is that schools will be given license to re-introduce more formal, afternoon extramural programmes. Unfortunately, as much as we would dearly love to offer more extramural type sport, this is not the possible at this stage.
A memo from the Gauteng Education Department was circulated on Wednesday 16th September, a day after the President’s address, that served to clarify the current status regarding the implementation of school sport programmes at all levels.
“The Minister of Education has pronounced that the school sport in all forms has been suspended until further notice. The status quo remains that schools cannot engage in any sport activities until the Minister of Basic Education determines otherwise.”
As such, we will continue to provide skill-based, non-contact physical education type activities for our boys as timetabled each day.
It is most unfortunate that I have to report that Leslie Elderkin, who joined The Ridge as Head of Instruments and Performing Arts at the beginning of the year, is no longer in our employ. Mr Elderkin did a good job in his role as Head of Instruments in the 1st Term but the impact of lockdown, school closure, and, in particular, the unexpected and tragic death of his mother has sadly meant that he needs to be closer to his family in the North West.
We have advertised for a new Head of Woodwind. In the interim, Carol Shutte and Irene Morrick will be able to manage and oversee all areas of choral, instrument and ensemble delivery in the Music Department as a whole. The other music peripatetic teachers are also doing well to help to cover the necessary bases.
I am pleased to advise the parents that Carol Shutte’s title has changed from Director of Choral Music to simply Director of School Music.
Heritage Day programme:
Both the Junior Primary and the Senior Primary will be enjoying special time together on Wednesday morning 23rd September as they celebrate Heritage Day here at The Ridge.
In the JP, boys are asked to come to school dressed in traditional heritage clothing with a special story, poem or song to share with their classmates. This will take place in their respective classrooms.
The SP will start the day with a Heritage Day Assembly on Hersov Field at 07.45.
This will take the form of an address by Moeketsi Motsepe, an Afrikaans Folk Tale shared by Tina Mashobane, a Zulu Folk Story told by Zibula Dladla, and an English Folk Tale read by Hanlie Glanz. Each of these will be punctuated by presentations from respective grades:
- Grade 4 boys will perform a Gumboot song, ‘isiCatulo’;
- Grade 5 boys will share a choral verse, ‘We love our South Africa’ and a Basotho Hail Dance ‘Sefako’;
- Grade 6 boys will start proceedings with the ‘San’bona’ song and will share their rendition of a Cape Minstrels song towards the end;
- Grade 7 will share their version of an Afrikaans song, ‘Liefde Generasie’;
- To finish proceedings after Mr Motsepe has offered a formal closure, the SP will sing the National Anthem and then the Grade 7 boys will lead the others in the Jerusalema Dance in response to Cyril Ramaphosa’s Challenge.
Break-up days at the end of this term. Please note that in order to host a special safety approved Grade 7 Farewell on Wednesday morning 2nd December, the rest of the school, Grades 0 – 6, will break-up on Tuesday morning, 1st December. There will still be a Final Assembly for these lads as well either on Hersov Field or in the Nicolson Hall, once again, safety factors permitting.
We are able to confirm that The Ridge has joined most of the other Gauteng independent schools in adopting the new 2021 term dates.
The official 2021 Calendar now reads as follows:
Term 1 (53 days):
Start … Wednesday 13 January
Close … Wednesday 31 March
Close … Thursday 25 February (12h00)
Return … Tuesday 2 March
Sunday 21 March (Human Rights Day)
Monday 22 March (Public Holiday)
Term 2 (68 days):
Start … Wednesday 28 April
Close … Friday 6 August
Close … Friday 11 June (normal time)
Return … Monday 21 June
Term 3 (62 days):
Start …Tuesday 7 September
Close … Friday 3 December
Close … Wednesday 20 October (12h00)
Return … Wednesday 27 October
Friday 24 September (Heritage Day)
A Final Thought:
The first official Heritage Day in 1996 was marked with these words by Nelson Mandela:
“When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.
“We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”
To The Ridge family, I wish you an appropriately festive, happy and reflective Heritage Day celebration on Thursday 23rd September as we embrace and dedicate ourselves afresh to playing a part in continuing to pursue for our children Nelson Mandela’s dream of a non-racial democracy.
Warm regards and God bless you all as you make the most of what I trust will be a quiet, pleasant and relaxing long weekend.