Update, 14 May 2020

Welcome to my Week 5 Update.

Thank you to our nurses and medical personnel

It was International Nurses Day last Tuesday 12 May. In this week’s update I recognise the fine work that nurses and medical personnel carry out across Australia and the rest of the world.

I acknowledge the wonderful care given by our School Nurses who mix kindness and competency every day when working with students who are often in pain and distress. Their gentle but no-nonsense manner has calmed many difficult situations and made our young people immediately feel more at ease. Thank you Jess Hoatson and Jo Evans who tend to Wadhurst and Senior School boys, and Debbie McGee who looks after our young girls and boys at Grimwade House. Thanks also to Gabby Flood, who provides initial first aid assistance to students at Wadhurst.

The role of our School Nurses extends well beyond dealing with a playground scrape or an upset stomach. Between them, Jess and Jo offer a 24/7 nursing service to our Boarders and, in doing so, receive wonderful support from our pool of casual nurses. Both live in the Boarding Precinct and, in addition to watching over daily health issues, provide another pastoral care point of contact for these students. Many boys visit the Health Centre just to have a chat or to just feel the kindness Jess and Jo and their team show towards each of them.

Our Nurses ensure first aid is well managed across the School, including when students are on camps and excursions. They train staff, organise medical supplies and play a key role in supporting the significant health issues of some students so that they can continue to attend classes at school.

Like many nurses, our School Nurses often work behind the scenes carrying out important work that benefits us all. My wife, Yasmine, is an anaesthetist and I am well aware of how crucial nurses are in the operating theatre. We, as patients, rarely meet these people, yet they play a key role in literally saving lives every day.

Nurses and other medical personnel are providing a particularly important service at present, supporting our entire community to combat COVID-19. Australia is in a relatively good position in relation to the rest of the world and there is no doubt that our outstanding medical professionals have greatly contributed to this situation.

Recently we have watched in horror as many health systems overseas have collapsed under the weight of COVID-19. We get angry that the nurses, doctors and their medical teams do not have access to sufficient supplies of personal protection equipment, COVID-19 tests and ventilators. We shed tears when we see these frontline medical people get infected at work and become seriously ill, or die. Tears of a different kind are shed when we see the signs and flowers outside hospitals, or when the public gives a round of applause and bangs pots for our medical workers.

We have many parents who are nurses, doctors and other medical personnel working at the frontline of fighting this disease. It has been a privilege to support these people by caring for their children on campus, when necessary.

Our School Nurses form part of a larger pastoral care team at Melbourne Grammar School. In this video I speak from under the Wadhurst House flags, highlighting the valuable function that House staff in Wadhurst and Senior School, and classroom teachers at Grimwade House, play in providing all students with care and a sense of belonging.

Return to on-campus learning

Following the announcement two days ago from the Victorian State Premier, Melbourne Grammar School is planning to recommence on-campus learning according to the schedule set out by the Victorian Government and especially the Chief Medical Officer. Specifically:

  • We are making arrangements for all students in Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 to return to Grimwade House and all students in Years 11 and 12 to return to on-campus learning at the South Yarra campus on Tuesday 26 May.
  • On Tuesday 9 June all students in Years 3 to 10 are expected to return to on-campus learning, though, as the Premier has pointed out, a staged return to school has been initiated to enable to enable the situation to be monitored in the interim
  • The School will continue to provide on-campus supervision for children from Prep to Year 12 of, parents who are medical and emergency services personnel, families with special needs and for children at risk. Please contact your campus Head if you would like to access this service.
  • In line with the State Government approach, Monday 25 May will be a staff day, with no lessons (on campus or off campus) planned for that day.

In recognising the health and wellbeing of our students and staff continue to be our highest priority, our staff in conjunction with the School Executive and the School Council, are formulating many plans to ensure the return to on-campus learning is as smooth as possible. Our plans are being updated and improved as we consult with our staff, receive information from the State Government and organisations such as Independent Schools Victoria and consider the progress of other Australian States and G30 Schools who have commenced or are planning to soon commence on-campus learning.

I trust you will appreciate there are some considerable logistics to consider, including, how best to support our students’ learning and welfare in dual on-campus and off-campus mode, co-curricular activities, boarding, catering, social distancing, health and safety practices and parent presence on site. This takes time and so I thank you for your ongoing patience and support.

Specific information will be issued to families who have students in Prep, Year 1, Year 2, Year 11 and Year 12 next week.

Based on our regular surveys of our students, staff and parents, our off-campus learning is going very well and we continue to make adjustments to improve our delivery of the learning, welfare support and engagement activities. But we also appreciate off-campus learning poses a challenge for some students and staff, and to you too as parents. Thank you for commitment, understanding and support in these challenging and unique circumstances.

We will continue to keep you informed.

Book reading

This week’s book is titled The Story of the Little Mole by Werner Holzwarth. In this fun story, a mole is surprised that another animal has ‘done its business’ on his head and sets out to find the culprit.

The password to view this video was provided in the Update emailed to parents and staff on 14 May.

My two daughters loved this book when I read it to them as children. I hope your family enjoys it just as much.

With my very best wishes,

Philip Grutzner

Be caring, creative and connected