Student Wellbeing Update – Support, Care and Connection

Throughout the period of remote learning, our key goal has been to support the wellbeing of each girl, and this focus continues on their return to School. Undoubtedly, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges which have led to increased concerns for the mental health and wellbeing of young people. There has never been a time where our students have had greater need for support, consistency, routine and a sense of certainty.

Year 7-9 Care Packs

Care pack list

Before the holidays, a Care Pack was emailed to our Year 7, 8 and 9 students as these levels have had the most prolonged period of remote learning. In her letter to the parents of those students, the School Psychologist, Amelia King, noted that “As the restrictions associated with COVID-19 continue, it is getting harder for students to remain positive and focussed using internal or ‘cognitive’ strategies. Their emotional energy is depleted, and the strategies they have been using until now may be losing their effectiveness.”

Recognising the need to suggest new strategies, including for the school holiday period, we provided students with a Wellbeing Calendar in the Care Pack, which included daily suggestions of activities and ways to support mental health and wellbeing. A Time Capsules Booklet was also included in the pack, to encourage the students to consider this period of history as a defining time for them personally and a reminder that resilience that can emerge from challenge.

They will reflect on questions such as:

  • ‘Because of what is happening in the world, I hope my future self will never forget…….’
  • ‘I wouldn’t have guessed, but the best thing about isolation is…………’
  • ‘During this time, I have admired the following people because………..’

The Time Capsules Booklets are being collected and retained on their return to school, so that they can open the Time Capsule in Year 12 and reflect on their responses and photos of this time. Additionally, each Head of Year wrote a letter to the Year 7 to 12 students to convey support, encouragement and care.

In recognition of World Mental Health Day on October 10, the students have been urged to take part in the Mental Health Australia Make a Mental Health Promise initiative. Some of the suggested promises are ‘Find some colour and fun in my day’, ‘Call a friend or family member today’, Explore new hobbies’ or ‘Make exercise part of my routine.’

Return to School

It has been such a joy to see students back on-site and we are counting the days until we have the Year 8 and 9 students back as well. Only four more school days until the planned October 26 return!

Having responded to the pandemic with a focus on maintaining connection, St Catherine’s is well placed to support students’ return to campus with a dedicated focus on student wellbeing.

In order to support each student, 1:1 ‘Academic and Care Check-ins’ will be undertaken by the House Tutor for each student in Years 7, 8 and 9, with the assistance of the Head of Year. The check-ins will be in person and so will take place for the Year 8 and 9s when they return to campus. In order to facilitate this, some students may need to leave class for 10 minutes.

The Year 10 – 12 Heads of Year and House Tutors will continue their group check-ins and support.

Return to School Student Information Booklets

In addition to the Parent Information Booklets you have received, the students have been given the updated Term 4 Student Information Manuals. At this stage the Year 7, 10, 11 and 12 students have received the Return to School Information Booklet which outlines the on-campus expectations, including hygiene and mask protocols.

Year 7 Return to School Information Booklet

Year 10-12 Return to School Information Booklet

The Year 8 and 9 students will receive a Return to School Information Booklet next week.

80 minute lesson times have resumed on-site, however, the Year 8 and 9 Learn@Home Lesson times will remain at 70 minutes next week to provide longer breaks from the screen.

Please communicate any concerns you may have to the relevant Head of Year. We wish to support every student’s personal and academic goals as they face another transition in what has been a tumultuous year.

If the smiles and laughter we have seen this week are anything to go by, being back on-site will be a welcome return to normality and connection with others.

Ms Merran O'Connor, Director of Student Wellbeing