Spotlight On: Community

8 May 2020

This article first appeared in Queenwood News Weekly 8 May 2020

Over the past week, we have conducted four parent webinars with the final one to be delivered this evening (for parents in Kindergarten to Year 2). We have also had several meetings over recent weeks with the QPA Committee though videoconference and two parent-teacher evenings in this new, online format.

So all in all, there has been a great deal of parent contact even though none have set foot on campus. We haven’t yet sought out your views on these experiences in a systematic way but, anecdotally, there seem to be some significant advantages – as captured in some of the comments and messages from parents:

I love this format - can we use this for parent info nights going forward? So much better for busy working parents.

It is a surprisingly personalised format. The chat function was a great way to dive a little deeper on important issues.

This format is personable, efficient and affords us the opportunity to get up close and personal with the ‘movers and shakers’ behind Queenwood.

I wasn't expecting it to be so transparent or able to take so many questions. Thank you for the opportunity to talk directly


We will seek detailed views from you in due course but judging by the initial response, it seems that using webinars for a range of parent events may be one of the things that we take forward into whatever our new normal looks like.

The challenge for all of us, then, is to ensure that we maintain our sense of community. All relationships are founded on shared experiences and time spent together, and I hope we can ensure that we don’t sacrifice this in the name of efficiency. I am encouraged, though, by one parent’s recent survey response: ‘Ms Stone has often referred to Queenwood as a community and I would like to say I have never felt more part of it than I do now.’ If we can manage that in the era of COVID-19, I would be very proud.

Underpinning our sense of community is our social contract – that we put the girls first in all that we do, that we are committed to the safety and wellbeing of each other, and that we demonstrate in all our interactions a commitment to School’s values of truth, courage and service. As we prepare for the return of the girls to the campus, that social contract places demands on all of us:

  • Precautions around COVID-19 must be considered not just in light of what is necessary (or just convenient) for one child or family, but what is required to protect the community as a whole. Please observe them.

  • No girl (or staff member) should come to school with any symptom of illness, even a mild sniffle or a scratchy throat.

  • In normal circumstances, you might tip the balance in favour of attending school if you’re not sure if your daughter is unwell. Not now. If she is not in robust good health, please keep her home.

  • Please keep us well informed – of medications, illnesses and especially of any cases of or exposure to COVID-19.

  • We all have the obligation to avoid complacency – so please keep requiring and modelling the hygiene and social distancing practices advised by the experts.

  • Parent and visitor entry is not permitted to campus (including to Reception) without a prior

  • For a reminder of the protocols for return to campus, please see here for Junior School and Senior School

It is so easy for our children, who have been born to the right parents at the right time and in the right place, to grow up distanced and buffered from the broader human experience. If we are going to send into the world young women equipped and motivated to make the world a better place, we have to inculcate habits of mind that cultivate a deep commitment to the welfare of others. How we respond to COVID-19 is not a bad place to start.

At the risk of sloganeering, we really are ‘all in this together’. If I ignore the guidelines – by, say, having a large social gathering in my home or by sending a child with mild symptoms to school – the cost of that decision may be borne by another. There is the terrible possibility that I might emerge unscathed but others directly linked in a chain of transmission could suffer ultimate loss.

But there is another possibility: that young people see the adults in their lives bearing frustration with patience and expanding their sphere of care and personal responsibility beyond the handful in our immediate family. As our children see us considering the needs of others, shaping daily decisions to do good and avoid harm to others, they might just learn a beautiful lesson: that a life that is just about ‘me’ is narrow and impoverished, and that the smallest acts of love, every day, can cumulatively build up to a life of fulfilment.

If our girls can take that lesson into their adult life, this could prove to be the most powerful year yet in their education.