Whilst chatting to the Director of Marketing from a prominent boys’ college a week or so ago, we shared a few notes on the projections into next year and how schools are preparing themselves for what is, at this stage still, something of a perplexing unknown.
Questions like: What health and safety regulations will still be in place? What will the pupil enrolment look like? How will the very tight budget controls limit growth potential and related plans in a new year? Can we expect to begin to see a few green shoots pushing through an economic landscape that remains in the grip of an ever-tightening recession.
As you will all attest to within your own business or work situations, I’m sure, very little is absolutely certain apropos how respective organisations and institutions will restart their 2021 campaigns. Oh, for the proverbial crystal ball.
Scenario Planning towards 2021
Here at The Ridge we have been holding a series of staff meetings in order to better visualize and prepare the operational ground for the scenarios that we might be faced with. Whilst we recognise that between break-up day on the 1st/2nd December and returning for the start of the 2021 academic year on the 13th January is a mere six weeks, we are nonetheless still hopeful that there will be enough of a shift in the health and safety restrictions to allow for a more normal return to school life for your boys.
As a result of our discussions, I can report that we are preparing and planning for two probable scenarios. The first, as Scenario ‘A’, is what is being referred to as a ‘modified normal’. This will mean that, going according to plan, we will be able to reactivate most features of our fuller daily educational offering while making sure not to compromise all necessary health and safety practices.
Whilst this plan takes into consideration that in all likelihood masks and physical distancing will still be very much a part of everyday life here at The Ridge well into next year, we are nonetheless expecting that we can look forward to rolling out the following:
- Classes to be divided into their conventional three class groups in respective home classrooms. Where we have been able to enjoy seeing the JP boys back in their own home classrooms this term, limited classroom space, timetable requirements and physically bigger boys have meant that our SP classroom structures and supporting systems have had to be creatively rethought. First prize will be to get them all back ‘in shape’ as originally designed.
- We will be returning to school for the summer term which will mean, hopefully, that we will be able to offer a fully functioning extramural programme for our boys; i.e. a ‘back to normal’ afternoon sports programme that will include cricket, swimming, water polo, climbing, tennis and basketball for our SP lads with the JP boys have loads of fun-in-the-sun with a composite of cricket, swimming and tennis activities.
- Our choral music offering has been badly hit this year and so, under a ‘modified normal’ scenario, we look forward to getting an almost full choral music programme back on song, as much as the wearing of masks will allow for. This will hopefully mean that, in addition to our instrument music which Carol Shutte and her team of music teachers have worked hard to keep buoyant, we are expectant that our boys will enjoy again orchestra, ensemble and choir music that will again be on offer.
- We are looking forward to having parents back on the School campus in some form from January, but again, will be governed by what the health and safety regulations allow for.
The Scenario ‘B’ plan is essentially a continuation of most of what the current daily operation is providing for. We have been very blessed to have been able to bring all our boys back to school every day thus far this term, and whilst the academic programmes have remained largely uninterrupted, what we are offering is clearly still well below the intended normal. Every indication at this stage, is that it will be unlikely that we will be held to this as we come back to school in the new year.
Given what the pandemic is doing in other parts of the world right now in the form of a worrying second wave of infections, one can’t ignore completely that such a situation might arise here in South Africa. Should such an unlikely state of affairs descend upon us again, then we will be compelled to activate what would be a Scenario ‘C’ plan. This has not been on the table for discussion at this stage.
With the end of the school year fast approaching, one always anticipates that there will be some movement of staff. Thankfully, this year, I am able to report that we will be saying farewell to relatively a few folk when we break-up in December.
- Isaac Mogano will be retiring following an incredible 47 years in the employ of The Ridge School. Sadly, due to the coronavirus and the many related threats for people in the more senior age brackets, Isaac has not been back to school since March of this year. Nonetheless, he will be returning on break-up day to enjoy the end of year farewell gathering that we will be holding to honour and thank him and others.
- Levy Kwape will also be retiring at the end of the year. Levy has been at The Ridge for 36 committed years but, like Mr Mogano, has not been actively part of school life since March.
- Parents were informed some months ago that Debra Coetzer (25 years of service to our school) had chosen to take early retirement at the end of the 2nd Term this year. She too will be honoured at the same gathering.
- Kim Hansen will be heading back to Cape Town to be with her parents after an all too brief year with us as one of our Grade 2 class teachers. We will be sad to say farewell to Kim at this time but wish her well as she begins a new chapter in her life down in that most beautiful part of the world.
A Final Word:
On half-term break-up day, I was delighted to receive a visit from a few of our Grade 3 lads who had been applying their creative carpentry skills to the making of bird feeders. They brought with them some personally written letters in which they requested permission from their headmaster to hang up the bird feeders somewhere in the school grounds. Clever boys, knew, of course, that it was a dead cert that their twitcher HM was bound to give them full permission.
Being the first few months of the new spring season, The Ridge School is playing host again to a colourful array of beautiful birds; many having returned from their winter migrations into the northern hemisphere. I thought that I would take the liberty of sharing a few shots of some of those that I have seen on and around campus in recent weeks.
For those of you who are less familiar with birding, please forgive me taking liberties like this. Those who do have an interest in the wonders associated with our feathered friends, enjoy some of what Mother Nature shares into the lives of our boys here at The Ridge from time to time.
Warm regards and best wishes as you and your sons look forward to making the most of the final few weeks of the school year.