School is scheduled to recommence on Tuesday, September 15. While we must wait for further confirmation in August as to what exactly this means in terms of possible restraints, this is what we are aiming for.
Senior online classes will get underway from Thursday, August 6th. Junior and Prep Schools will commence online classes from Tuesday September 1st and break until then. Until now, a lot of work has gone into portal uploads, online classes and pre-recorded learning with worksheets to adequately prepare boys of different ages for what we hope will be an uninterrupted Term 1. Our boys will be well equipped to start the new school year.
This also enables the College to handle the busy Admissions period rescheduled to start Friday August 21st and end Monday August 24th, as well as to complete preparations for general teaching. The new schedule will be uploaded, shortly.
On return to school, classes will work according to strict SOPs listed in detail at the end of this letter. These will be taken very seriously.
Notwithstanding, we appreciate that returning to school brings with it certain challenges of the mind and body. At the forefront of this is health and safety. Younger boys (even parents) might be anxious to start, but our staff will incorporate strategies to deal with this in our day-to-day well-being programs.
At this early stage, we respect a family’s right to choose whether or not to send their son(s) to school, although we encourage you to do so. Accordingly, we will provide some portal support for boys who are kept at home or who may fall ill or who are quarantined. Approved leave will apply in such notified cases, but it is essential that parents electing to keep their sons at home advise the relevant Head of School, beforehand, to take advantage of approved leave and to qualify for targeted support. To be clear, Aitchison cannot offer full online teaching and learning support once school recommences on top of formal school, given the demands placed on returning teachers with Day commitments. Nor will there be a reduction in tuition fees for an online alternative. Please note that our fees are calculated on an annual basis, while boarding charges are already very generous.
It is imperative that health and safety precautions are respected.
Rule: Be cautious and think of others if you feel ill. The school will not take responsibility for infections as it is imposing the best possible precautionary measures.
How will we manage the school?
With almost 3000 boys and two campus schools, it is simply impossible to practise effective social distancing with these numbers. As there is no sport or co-curricular until further notice, we will run two school sessions each day, Monday to Friday. Boys will be allocated by Heads of School to Cycle A or Cycle B. These cycles will be taught the same lessons in classrooms and usual facilities each week with adequate social distancing or spacing of 1.5 metres. Classrooms and venues are already setup for this. We are one of the few schools able to do so comfortably. Heads of School will post easy to follow timetables for Cycles A and B, in due course. There will be adequate drop-off and collection time between cycles.
School timings are as follows:
Cycle A from 7am to 10am and Cycle B from 11.30 to 2.30pm. The Bursar will clarify Gate timings, shortly.
There is no negotiation on cycles or on which part of the day a boy attends. No boy may skip a cycle to attend another without prior approval from the school. We will keep siblings in the same cycle wherever possible in a particular school or across different schools.
Boys may access online materials and worksheets as additional help or support on return home or to the boarding houses. We are currently planning our IT response and added capabilities in this area of operation.
There will no large assemblies or groupings. There is to be no sharing of food or drinks. Canteens will be closed until further notice. Boarders will be catered for in houses only. There is no recess or lunch break in either cycle. The routine is: drop-off, controlled entry to school, classes, and then leave school at designated collection points. The Bursar will upload these details shortly with applicable gate times on each portal. It is essential to follow the instructions of school security.
What are Aitchison’s SOPs?
To whom do I address further queries or concerns?
Your Head of School will assist with all queries, as is normal practice. No alteration to these SOPs will be considered. Please do not request changes to what is presented here.
What can I do to help?
Go through these requirements with your son(s) (especially junior boys) and make sure they understand what ‘social distancing’ means and to avoid rubbing eyes or putting fingers in mouths as is so frequently done at a young age. Shaking hands is forbidden. Educate them to simply greet someone in words and keep distance. Teach them how to sneeze politely (if they do) into their arm. Bring a tissue to school. There will be staff on duty to help younger boys especially. These are particularly unnatural times and staff and parents need to work together. If your son(s) needs to bring to school some food or drinks these must not be shared. If your son(s) are not feeling well, please keep them at home. Usual medical needs will be handled as we currently do. Any changed circumstances should be advised to the relevant Head of School a.s.a.p.
The College reserves the right to amend or alter any of the above conditions on the basis of altered or unforeseen circumstances.