TIGS Community Shines
March 20, 2020
The past two weeks have certainly been difficult, not just here in Australia but globally. We watched the COVID-19 crisis unfold thousands of kilometers away, unsure whether to feel sheltered by our distance from the epicentre or apprehensive about what was to come. Over the following days, it became apparent that even here in the Illawarra we wouldn’t be immune. Since then the School has had to make some difficult decisions as we balance the need to care for our community, support working parents, fulfill our civic duty, care for staff and keep our students learning.
It has been a joy to see the School’s value of ‘Caring’ shining through every part of our community. I have had numerous expressions of support and care and I have observed many more. A wonderful example of care has been demonstrated by the Kermali family who have been handing out free hygiene packs at their Dental and Medical practice in Warrawong. Over the last few days, they have given away approximately 400 COVID-19 hygiene packs containing vital supplies including hand sanitiser, masks, oral hygiene products and useful information. What a great example of coming together as a family and living out our core value of caring.
The majority of families at TIGS are dealing with dramatically different working arrangements as a result of COVID-19. A significant percentage are involved in the medical profession and other critical roles in our community and we recognise the great deal of pressure and stress they are under. We will need to care for each other as this situation unfolds and I have no doubt that this will happen, it is the TIGS way.
The School also has a civic duty to fulfil for our community. The Prime Minister has requested that independent schools remain open to protect the elderly and ensure health workers and other critical front-line staff can remain at work. Our shift to hybrid learning as of Monday allows us to fulfil that duty by allowing families to access on-site learning while also supporting those who are unable to physically attend school. I am certain that there will be teething problems undertaking such a major shift with a quick turn around, however I have witnessed our staff working very hard to achieve this. I know they will continue to do their very best to adapt their practices and launch this new approach to learning.
Our staff give so generously to their students and each other. They play a vital role in delivering this new hybrid approach and their flexibility and dedication have been outstanding. It is my role to ensure that they are cared for and I invite our families to assist me in this. Many staff have young children and family members to care for themselves and their lives are becoming equally complicated by the changes we are all facing.
A priority at TIGS is to deliver learning and the School’s focus on academic excellence has not changed. Excellence in this situation means not just providing activities to keep students busy, but thoughtfully looking at the programme that needs to be covered and adjusting for an online learning situation. This is significant, time consuming and technical work. It is not our expectation that home-based learning will involve students spending six-hours straight in front of a computer, that would be poor practice indeed. I seek the support of our parent community in acknowledging this, appreciating that we are in very unique times and always demonstrating grace as we find our way together.
The TIGS way is to shine, to rise to challenges, support each other, be innovative, communicate honestly and appreciate how blessed we truly are. Even though it seems like a dark time, I encourage our community to continue to shine together.