Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

Having been back at school for a little over a month, it is good to report that all formal teaching and learning systems are running smoothly and that, in particular, our Ridge boys are responding, as expected, with enthusiasm and energy to all that is coming their way each day. It is important to note too that we are maintaining our expected compliance to the wearing of masks, the enforcing of physical distancing, making sure that classrooms are being well-ventilated and that desk-top, chairs and touch-point sanitizing is happening in all classrooms and other gathering places at least twice each day. 

Not only has the month of October brought with it the welcome rains that a thirsty Gauteng and surrounds have been crying out for during the dry months of a very cold winter, but on the school operational front we have been able to whet the boys’ learning appetites by introducing a few important ‘seeking some normality’ features at various levels.

As already mentioned, whilst we remain fully compliant to the Department of Basic Education’s most recent health and safety regulations, we are determined, too, to explore what needs to be done to add more substance and meaning to what our Ridge lads are experiencing here at school each day. In addition to the re-introduction of a five-day school week for our Junior Primary boys and the welcome bringing back to life of some timetabled, club-type activities for our Senior Primary boys that were shared with SP parents last week, work has also been done to:

  • Improve home classroom structures so that live, in-person teaching can happen during every timetabled period each day;
  • In this context, we are expecting all boys to be back at school following the half-term break. Only if boys are genuinely ill or have a doctor’s certificate to say that, being comorbid, they must remain at home, will a boy be officially excused and so assisted online. 
  • Better co-ordinate and control the daily drop-off and pick-up arrangements for given grades. In this regard, we will be trialling a morning Woolston Road drop-off system through next week for SP boys and their parents. In order to assist parents and to alleviate some of the traffic congestion at the Woolston Gate, we will allow parents to drive into the Woolston carpark and around traffic circle in single file, drop their lads off, and then leave. There is to be no actual parking and parents are reminded to stay in their vehicles, please. The system is similar to the one that has worked so successfully in the Lawley Road carpark for the JP parents. Should the trial drop-off system work, we will formally implement it after half-term. SP boys whose parents choose to drop them outside the Woolston Gate will be required to enter through the pedestrian gate alongside the guard hut. The routine temperature checks and screening will continue to be administered.
  • Free up the Nicolson Hall so that we can again hold permissible special assemblies and staff meetings;
  • Begin to introduce a few summer games to the boys’ Physical Education lesson times.

Looking Ahead:

October month also brings into view much that is normally associated with a school’s end of year programme of events. Needless-to-say, a good deal of what we would normally plan for has needed to be rethought or, unfortunately, in some cases, cancelled due to constraints imposed by existing safety regulations. Nonetheless planning is well in-hand to be able host some of these traditional functions, just in different ways and under regulation-imposed conditions. There will be more detail on each of the following events and others in the days ahead:

  • The Grade 7 Market Days on Wednesday each week until the end of October;
  • The Remembrance Day Service will be conducted by the Grade 7 boys;
  • All Ridge boys, Grades 0 – 7, will be encouraged to participate in The Santa Shoebox Collection for charity this year. 
  • The Grade 3 Thanksgiving and Farewell Assembly;
  • Special but low-key JP and SP Christmas Carol Assemblies for the boys and teachers to enjoy;
  • Final Assemblies for Grades 0 – 3 and Grades 4 – 6 on the morning of Tuesday 1st December;
  • A Combined Prize Giving, Awards and Valedictory Farewell Assembly for our Grade 7 boys and their parents on the morning of Wednesday 2nd December.

Please note that, as alluded to above, given the expected continuation of current physical distancing regulations and the related limited number of people permitted in given spaces, we will need to bring break-up day for Grades 0 – 6 boys forward to Tuesday 1st December. This will primarily be in order to accommodate the important Grade 7 Combined Prize Giving, Awards and Valedictory Farewell Assembly that will serve to bring closure to the academic year for the Grade 7 lads on Wednesday morning, 2nd December.

Staff News:

We are delighted to share the news that Candice Fletcher (our Ridge School Psychologist) and her husband Ray have been blessed with the arrival of a beautiful, healthy baby boy. The little fellow is their second son, after firstborn, Grey.

Dress Code for Boys – also see The Ridge App

We are needing to tighten up on the dress code for all Grade 0 – 6 boys:
  • Grade 0 lads are permitted to wear PE kit – short white socks with blue shorts and blue shirts;
  • The wearing of khakis for boys in Grades 1 – 6 must be accompanied by the wearing of school socks and black shoes, or, alternatively, school sandals;
  • If Grade 1 – 6 boys choose to wear their PE kit then it must take the form of long white school sports socks, blue shorts, blue or white AirTec PE shirts and trainers;
  • Swimming costumes may be worn under a boy’s PE kit;
  • Boys are encouraged to wear wide brimmed blue Ridge hats as the spring sun begins to make its presence felt on occasions when they are outside.
  • Grade 7 boys may continue to come to school in their civvies except when required to come dressed in their summer blues on special occasions. 

Parents are asked to please make sure that all clothing is clearly marked with your son’s name.

Lightning Alert System

As we await the arrival of the welcome summer storms we must anticipate that a lightning threat will accompany them. We were reminded of this at lunch time of Monday this week when an intense electric storm arrived without much prior warning. In fact, the lightning was almost above us when the first siren sounded. On such occasions at the close of a school day, parents will understand, I’m sure, that we will need to keep the boys and members of staff under cover until the storm passes over. Every effort will be made to alert the parents in advance of such a decision in order to prevent a build-up of traffic in the roads leading towards the School.  Our lightning alert system here at The Ridge is in good working order having been recently tested and can be trusted again to give advanced warning of approaching storms. In summary, the system works as follows:

  • The lightning alert siren will go off if lightning strikes within a 15km radius of the school.
  • The siren is mounted on the Nicolson Hall and has a very powerful and far-reaching resound.
  • An ‘all clear’ siren will sound after 30 minutes should there be no more strikes within a 15 km radius. The ‘all clear’ will only go off 30 minutes after the last recorded strike.

No matter how good the system, there will always be a responsibility for coaches, teachers and parents to remain alert themselves, to use their own common sense and to act decisively if they believe that lightning is threatening. This is particularly the case at this time when usual and routine practices have been altered in the way they have in recent months.

To this end the following instructions have been issued to all members of staff:
  • The boys must stay in their home classrooms until told to move elsewhere;
  • When a storm is approaching, to anticipate that the lightning alert siren will probably go off. Should it not go off and they feel that they and the boys are exposed they are to seek shelter and safety immediately;
  • When the siren does go off, they are not to hesitate. They will be expected to get the boys under appropriate cover and into safety as soon as possible; 
  • Staff are then responsible for looking after the boys in that place of safety.
  • Only when the siren sounds an ‘all clear’ can the coaches or teachers return to whatever activities they and their boys might have been involved in.
  • If the ‘all clear’ is not given after an extended period of time and parents are intent on taking their boys home then the coaches and/or teachers may only release the boys if the parent or guardian is there in person to collect their son.
  • Boys waiting in the carpark are expected to wait under shelter at all times when a storm is threatening or is overhead. They will be supervised accordingly.

A Final Word:

As parents would have seen in last week’s Ridge Reporter, we were delighted to welcome back to The Ridge some of the 2015 Grade 7 School Leavers for a special Matric Assembly last Friday morning. Whilst having to adhere to DBE health and safety regulations and against the backdrop of inclement weather in the early morning, we were nonetheless still able to host some 35 matrics, a good number of their parents, our own Grade 7 boys and members of staff in our Nicolson Hall – all obediently complying to the physical distancing protocols and the wearing of masks.

For the matrics and their parents, it proved to be a special two hours of reconnecting with their old school and each other. Many of these strapping young men commented on the fact that this brief trip down memory lane back here at The Ridge was a much anticipated and most welcome return to their prep school alma mater and to a place that they have such fond feelings for and strong allegiances towards. A reminder to us again that the laying of foundations for life in schools like this often represents so much more than the formal academic learning that takes place in the classroom.

A reminder that our half-term weekend has been trimmed from six to four days. We will break-up on Thursday afternoon, 15th October at 12:00 and return to school on the morning of Tuesday, 20th October.

Warm regards and God’s blessings over you all at this time

Richard Stanley

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