Update, 16 April 2020

Welcome to the first week of Term II.

I trust you and your family and friends are well and that, despite the difficult circumstances we all share, your home is filled with strength, good humour and hope.

A video message from me

Even though we are physically distant, I want to speak as directly as I can to parents, students and staff about the COVID-19 crisis and the responsibility each of us currently has to take care of ourselves and each other.

This video was recorded just prior to social distancing measures being fully introduced. I hope you will share it within your family and with others you may feel may benefit from its messages.

The importance of reading

When I was a child, I regularly travelled to far distant places, met the most extraordinary people and grappled with ideas which were new, complex and fascinating. I still do – all through reading books.

Although there are aspects of our days which are significantly different at present, I hope that daily engagement with a good book is continuing for all of us, particularly students. Reading by students of all ages is a great contributor to the development of imagination and creativity. These are the attributes that everyone needs in abundance as we move further into the rapidly evolving 21st century.

Each time I visit a Grimwade House class, I ask the students to tell me what are the most important things they do before going to bed each night. Of course, putting on their pyjamas, cleaning teeth and kissing mum and dad goodnight are invariably mentioned.

However, I am always pleased to hear how many also respond with “read a book”. I know that all Grimwade House students are asked to read as part of their homework, but I do get the sense that, for many children, they would do this even if it wasn’t a necessity. I will be interested when we all return to the School to hear how many have kept up the practice without homework being set during off-campus learning.

For our youngest students, having a book read to them is just as appropriate. To this end, I have included a video of me reading a wonderful story called All the Lost Things by Australian author, Kelly Canby, who has kindly given the School permission to use her story in this way.

If you could find the time to sit with your child and watch the video together, I would be grateful.

I will be presenting a new book in my Update each week. The recordings were completed prior to social distancing measures being in place.

As you may know, Wadhurst students normally have a reading period during each school day. Written by Paul Stewart, English Co-ordinator at Wadhurst, this exploration explains reading matters more than ever in our changing world.

The essential idea of reading as diversion continues into Senior School – not just part of the curriculum, or in the sense of running away or altering a course away from reality, but perhaps more in the Renaissance Italian sense of ‘divertimento’ – an amusement or entertainment.

To support students’ reading while at home, key staff across the School have provided their Top Five books here. I’ve even included my own Top Five favourite childhood and teenager books.

Please encourage your children to read widely and often. I promise you that it will have a big influence on their lives.

A book on COVID-19 for children

The School has been advised of an excellent resource which parents may find useful when discussing the current situation with their primary school aged children. Published by British publishers, Nosy Crow, the free digital book provides clear, calm and honest information about the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it.

You can find more information about the book and access to it here.

Faith & spirituality

We have introduced Faith & spirituality to our COVID-19 Resource Hub, which focuses on the spiritual practices associated with the Christian faith and other religious traditions which can help us find stillness and meaning and give us a sense of hope and comfort.

We aim to post weekly quotes, prayers, and reflections and suggestions on how to remain peaceful, hopeful, centred and calm in this section.

I encourage you to visit this new section. You may also care to read a message of hope from our Senior Chaplain, Rev’d Hans Christiansen.

Additional support for medical and emergency services personnel and Children at Risk

In recognising the vital role that medical professionals and emergency services personnel play in combatting the current health crisis and caring for us all, the School has extended the on-campus supervision to include children of parents in these roles across Prep – Year 12, rather than just Grimwade House students.

The service will be available during normal school hours from Monday 20 April 2020. It will operate according to the advice provided by the Federal and State Departments of Health. I thank our staff involved in providing this important service and giving these key people the opportunity to continue to serve in their crucial roles.

If you are a healthcare provider engaged in efforts combatting COVID-19 or work in the emergency services, or are a carer of a Child at Risk, and you require care for your Prep – Year 12 child, please follow the instructions below:

For Grimwade House students (Prep – Year 6), please apply for a place here, and contact the Acting Head of Grimwade House, Nathan Boller njboller@mgs.vic.edu.au for further information.

For Wadhurst students (Years 7 & 8), please contact Greg Caldwell, Head of Wadhurst gjcaldwell@mgs.vic.edu.au

For Senior School students (Years 9 – 12), please contact Ben Hanisch, Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School bphanisch@mgs.vic.edu.au

I wish you all the very best for the term ahead.

Philip Grutzner

Be caring, creative and connected.