From The Principal

16 September 2021

This article first appeared in Queenwood News Weekly 16 September 2021.

Yesterday, we passed several milestones. I congratulated the Senior School girls in assembly for making it through the one and only full term of remote learning in Queenwood’s history – and doing it with courage and grace. It has not been easy but they have a wonderful example to follow in the Year 12s. 

Last year, we naturally assumed that the Class of 2020 would have the worst of it but this year’s events have demanded even more from the Class of 2021. They have, however, risen to the challenge. Under normal conditions, yesterday would have been their last full day of school. We marked the occasion in various ways but we are painfully aware that an online meeting is just not the same, so we are planning to celebrate the Year 12s properly at the end of the year, when (we hope) circumstances permit us to gather. The true goodbyes will therefore wait but the Year 12 girls are now entering the final straight with all of us cheering them on!


As you are aware, all school staff will be fully vaccinated within the next six weeks or so, and students aged 12 years and over are now eligible for vaccination. We encourage all families to pursue vaccination as soon as possible, although it is clear that this may require some ingenuity for a little while as appointments are snapped up quickly. Children under 12 years will remain unvaccinated but the good news is that transmission of COVID-19 is 7 times lower in children than in adults and most children experience no symptoms or only a mild illness.

The situation is therefore far more favourable overall than it has been since the pandemic began. Nevertheless, we must continue to be careful as we will be welcoming the children back to school when a proportion of the population remains unvaccinated and at a time when we can expect a wave of infections following the exit from lockdown. As gatherings and travel also resume, we will enter a new phase when everyone must expect to meet the COVID-19 virus in the course of their daily life. 

Thanks to the remarkable efficacy of the vaccines, the very young and the vaccinated will be in an excellent position: even if infected, their illness will almost certainly be mild. The vulnerable, however, will be at heightened risk due to the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in the community. Understanding vaccination levels within the Queenwood community – staff, students and families – will therefore be important in our planning and risk management. As noted above, we know that children are far more likely to be infected by an adult than another child, which makes the vaccination of the adults around them highly relevant to their risk. 

We would therefore be most grateful for your assistance in this process of planning. We ask all families to advise us of the vaccination status of their daughters so that we have the data we need for our planning. We would also be grateful if you are willing to share with us the vaccination status of those in the household (individual details not required), as this is also relevant to the assessment of risk. This in turn will influence how much we will be able to do with the girls on their return. 

The survey is here.



With this term coming to a close, families will be keen to understand more about the plans for Term 4. We are considering all the things you would expect: ventilation, air quality, social distancing, staggering breaks, cohort bubbles, masks and so on. With so many factors to consider and such unpredictability of circumstances, our planning will continue to develop over coming weeks. This is what we can confirm so far.

  • We are on track for the girls to return on the dates outlined in my previous newsletter.
  • Tuesday 5 October: Term 4 commences with remote learning for all students.
  • Monday 25 October: Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 return to campus. All other students continue in remote learning.
  • Monday 1 November: Years 2, 6 and 11 return to campus. All other students continue in remote learning.
  • Monday 8 November: Years 3 – 5 and 7 – 10 return to campus.
  • We fully expect this to be the schedule, although no-one can exclude the possibility of further changes in the time of COVID-19. Conversely, if circumstances (including vaccination rates) were unexpectedly favourable, we would of course endeavour to bring the girls back earlier.  
  • The return to face-to-face teaching will be good for the girls’ learning but we are also very conscious of the pent-up hunger for some fun! Our planning will thus include some good opportunities for the girls to have time together outside the classroom and enjoy some activities focused on their wellbeing and social connection.
  • We will continue to incorporate one screen-free day per week into the schedule for Senior School girls but to ensure that Wednesday’s lessons are not disproportionately affected, the screen-free day will be rotated through the week.
  • From the first day of Term 4, all girls from Kindergarten to Year 12 will be required to wear masks at school. Junior School girls will be expected to wear them indoors but not in the playground so please ensure that you obtain several well-fitting masks for your daughters over the holidays. Senior School girls will be expected to wear them at all times, except when eating.
  • Wherever possible, cocurricular activities will continue or resume but it is already clear that there will be no inter-school sport next term.


  • Tuesday 26 October: IB examinations begin.
  • Tuesday 9 November: HSC examinations begin.
  • Wednesday 10 November: IB examinations conclude.
  • The IB examinations will be held on campus. Very few students will be on campus while these take place.
  • The HSC examinations, postponed until 9 November, will be held off-site at a nearby venue. By separating the Year 12 students, we minimise the risk that their examinationss could be interrupted if a COVID-19 case is detected amongst other students on the school campus. Where the circumstances of individual Year 12 students demand it, separate arrangements will be made.



As we gradually move towards a staged return to face-to-face learning in Term 4, we ask you to give careful consideration to whether your daughter really should attend School for remote learning until she returns to class. The October weeks are crucial in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in the community as vaccination continues. Please follow the Premier’s advice at this crucial time before School resumes, and only send children to School if it is not possible for them to learn at home (i.e. essential workers). Support will be provided online by the Specialised Learning team. Online learning routines have been established which should enable your daughter to work effectively from home until the staged return to School occurs. We thank you for your understanding.



Speech Day is now planned for the morning of Wednesday, 1 December 2021. We hope, but cannot confirm, that parents will be able to attend. We are hoping to be able to hold some of the Year 12 graduation events on that date, too.


We will offer a parent webinar / Q&A once the return-to-school plans are finalised so that parents have an opportunity to ask questions and clarify arrangements. We have appreciated these sessions and the helpful feedback from parents.


  • A reminder that updates are posted on the COVID-19 page on our website. Return-to-school plans and other information will be posted here should you need to check arrangements during the school holidays or into next term.

Right now, lockdown fatigue is affecting all of us but planning for the girls’ return has been uplifting (despite the logistical headaches). The prospect of filling up the campus with the laughter and noise of happy young people has never been so appealing, and I suspect that parents, who have been juggling many competing demands, are feeling similarly excited by the idea! We continue to be grateful for the way that Queenwood parents have worked together with the School throughout these taxing times, and I thank you for the support you have consistently offered to the staff, including myself.

At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, even as we feel the strain of this long lockdown, I would like to finish with an acknowledgement of our good fortune. Our girls have supportive families, dedicated teachers, full access to digital technologies, and all the other resources that contribute to an enriching education and a stable family life. They come from homes with high levels of health literacy and live in a country where, for all the mistakes that have been made, this crisis has been managed with greater competence and a stronger health and economic infrastructure than almost anywhere else. Vaccinations are beginning to make a visible difference, even against Delta, and we are about to shift from a global shortage of supply to a global surplus. 

At a time when it is tempting to focus on what we are missing out on, perhaps we can encourage our girls to consider with gratitude what they have been given in abundance. And of course, this is when our School motto comes into its own: 

Per aspera ad astra – Through struggles to the stars!