I hope this letter finds you well and coping as best you can with this unprecedented national and global situation. One month ago very few of us could have imagined a world like the one in which we now live. We are all adjusting and learning as we go along. This is a huge learning curve for every citizen both young and old.
It does remind me, as I have told the students, of the old saying that we have heard many times, that when the going gets tough the tough get going! We are going to have to become more resilient as this situation gets worse before it gets better. It is a fact that many of us and our loved ones will contract this virus and we must support each other when that happens. I am already hearing stories from our wider school community about people becoming ill with the virus.
With regard to your daughter’s education I hope that you are aware of the work going on to keep students learning. Teachers have made huge effort and progress in learning to teach on teaching platforms such as Google classroom, that some of them never used in their careers before. We have email now as the main form of communication between teachers and students. Thankfully we had been working for a few months on getting each student set up with a school email address rather than use their own private email address for school business. I was planning the roll out of this with no knowledge of the Covid-19 virus so thankfully that worked out well and in time for the school break up on Friday 13th March.
Each morning I email all members of the school community, students, teachers and other staff, with general information and words I hope will inspire and motivate them to continue to do their best. These emails are an important part of how we as a school communicate with each other for now. This message to you, the parents, is to involve you in this communication and to let you know what is happening. We value all you are doing also to support your families and to support us as a school community with the education of your daughters under very difficult circumstances.
A good idea for students is to follow their school timetable and work at the subjects according to this and I have emailed all these suggestions to students already. All teachers have engaged with their students regarding work. Please check that your daughter has opened her email account and is working away. We have a small number of students who seem to be having problems in this regard, however out of the 805 students most are up and running.
Students and teachers may feel overwhelmed and I have spoken to both groups to be mindful of a measured approach to work. You have a very dedicated teaching staff in St Dominic’s College who care very much about your daughters. Please support them and check in on your daughter’s learning and progress. I have also asked students and teachers to observe as far as possible school hours for doing school work as there has to be a balance for all our wellbeing.
Our students have risen to the challenge as I knew that would. I would like to thank our students and many of you parents for the lovely emails that you have sent to me complementing what we, as a school community have done in the last week or so for your daughters. I keep telling the students that this situation we find ourselves in, will pass like everything else does. What is important is that they support you as parents in your homes and that they help you and their siblings as much as they can.
As principal of St Dominic’s College I am so proud of our school community. As the leader of the school I set out what I believe were our educational, moral and human expectations to both students and staff on the Friday after we finished school. I can say nothing but positive things about our students, teachers and ancillary staff’s attitude to all that I have asked of them. Teachers who didn’t use email much a week ago are now teaching on Google Classroom. Students who didn’t engage with their lessons on occasions in school are emailing me to see if they get their books out of their lockers. So human nature has this ability to adapt.
Human nature is very resilient; we know this from history but until events like this come to our door we don’t know how we will react. Many young people of course do not know what to do in situations like this and that’s where our moral and human advice as well as our life experience comes in. Yet when we show them what should be done, they, as a generation, are resilient, creative and simply amazing. We need to see this, so that we know they will have the skills in years to come to be teachers, principals, medical staff, government ministers, supermarket managers, etc. in the front line of the next pandemic or major event leading others to safety. It is all about passing on the skills of coping to this generation and the next one to get us through this awful time and come out the other side.
As parents it’s not easy. I love the way at home people are back playing board games, cards, charades etc. There is so much fun in these activities. Fun is a key factor in all our lives. Take time away from chores if you can to sit and talk to your children now and again and let them know that it is important to have fun, in the real sense of what that means with those around them.
The Board of Management, the Deputy Principals, some ancillary staff and I are keeping the ordinary business of the school going as much as we can. I know some people would ideally like to meet with teachers, year heads, coordinators, the deputy principals or myself about issues they are concerned about but all of this can happen when it is safe to do so when school resumes, whenever that may be, as school closure was extended yesterday to 19th April 2020.
For now I wish you health and strength to deal with whatever comes your way. Mind yourselves well.
Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann daoine. This beautiful old Irish seanfhocal or proverb loosely translates to: We all live by depending on each other.
Is mise, le meas,