Letter from our Head of College – 20 April 2020

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20 April 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, Caregivers

We have had our first four days of online teaching and learning and by all accounts it has been successful despite a few challenges along the way (like connectivity issues). Our students have taken on the challenge with enthusiasm. Long may it last!

To ensure the continued success of our online offering, whilst acknowledging the pressures of our families during the lockdown, we kindly request the assistance of our parents, guardians and caregivers in reading the following information on establishing routines and maintaining the integrity of assessments. Please also see the information on IT and teacher support as well as June examinations and the up-coming public holidays.

Establishing a routine

Several of our students struggled to make the transition from the holidays into online learning in the first three days and were often late for sessions or had overslept. We kindly request that parents assist us by establishing and enforcing a routine for their children that is conducive to learning. Routine equals success!

To provide some online context, students are required to be ready at their desks at 8am to attend their online Mentor Groups and registration which is followed by four academic sessions with breaks in between. Absentees are recorded on the school’s learner management system ADAM. Please see the attached Online timetable for your perusal. Students also need to ensure that they have their notes, textbooks and any other resource material ready for each of their sessions.

Parents are also encouraged to view their child’s respective google classrooms, especially in the younger grades, to see what notes, summaries are required for the day as well due dates for assignments and tasks.

If your child has an issue with connectivity on a day or session, please can they contact and inform the relevant teacher as soon as they are back online via Google Classroom, WhatsApp or by email.

Integrity of Online Assessments – invigilation by parents, caregivers and guardians

S-tests and other assessments will commence this week which brings into question the integrity of our online assessment process as the usual on campus protocols are not available.

Assessments are used by teachers to gauge if learning has taken place and to identify areas that your child found challenging which may require remediation. It is thus imperative that students uphold the integrity of the online assessment process by providing and submitting their own work and not getting assistance from elsewhere. It goes without saying that we rely on the honesty and integrity of students as well as their families to ensure that the assessment process is not compromised.

Notwithstanding, the following additional layers of accountability will be implemented. Due to the absence of teachers to invigilate, it is kindly requested that parents, guardians and caregivers act as invigilators for their child’s assessment to ensure the integrity of the assessment. An invigilator ensures that a student:

  • Does NOT have any notes, textbooks, the internet, cellphone or any other material or device on themselves, or in proximity of their working space that may be used to assist them as well as NOT receiving assistance from any person in the household or outside.
  • Does not leave their working space for the duration of the assessment. For example, go to the bathroom.
  • Starts, finishes and submits the assessment at the correct time.
  • Video records the assessment undertaken (please see paragraph below on video recording)

If there is no one in the family unit available to be an invigilator, please kindly inform me by emailing w.purchase@oakhill.co.za

Video recording of Online assessments

To further ensure accountability, students are requested to video record themselves undertaking the assessment with their cell phone or any other device. A similar protocol is used by the IEB for the final matriculation examinations; a camera live streams the examination venue to the IEB offices in Johannesburg.

The device should be propped up with a book or something similar in the vicinity of the working space so that the camera captures the student clearly and their working surrounds (sound must be included). Recording the assessment session must be continuous and may not be stopped during the duration of the assessment. Videos should be saved as the lowest quality and must be kept until students receive their results. Thereafter they may be deleted. Students are to ensure there is enough storage on their devices or upload the videos to their Google drives.

Only IF irregularities are suspected on a student’s submitted assessment, may the video footage may be requested by the teacher or the Head of College. If a suitable device is not available in the family unit to do the recording, please email me as well accordingly.

Due to the nature of technology, there is bound to be times when connectivity will be an issue. Assessments are one hour in duration and the portal will be open for an additional 40 minutes to provide sufficient time for any issues with connectivity or submission. If connectivity is an issue on the day your child is scheduled to write their assessment, please contact the respective teacher, when possible, to reschedule it for later in the day or another day.

Student’s declaration
Furthermore, each assessment will have a declaration, adapted from IEB assessment protocols, that students need to agree to and digitally sign. Please see below:

I, _______________(name) hereby declare that that all the work contained in this google document/ form is my own, original work and that I did not use my textbook, notes, the internet or a parent, sibling, friend or any other person to help me answer any questions.

I did video record the test while I wrote it and will submit the recording if requested to do so by a teacher or the Head of College. A failure to submit implies that the assessment was compromised.

I agree that, if it is determined by the competent authorities that I have engaged in any fraudulent activities whatsoever in connection with the contents of my assessment, I shall forfeit completely the marks gained for this assessment and become part of a disciplinary process that will be instituted.

Signed by____________________________ [digital signature]

June examinations

There will be no June examinations for Grades 8 to 11. Assessments, which will take place in various formats (e.g. tests, assignments, essays, tasks, projects), will take place during the Academic Online timetable during the term. Grade 12s will have an ‘assessment week’ in the last two weeks of the term with two tests a day to meet the IEB portfolio requirements. Any changes to these arrangements will be duly communicated.

IT support

As we know, online teaching and learning comes with its own set of challenges; however, please be reminded that our helpful IT team is on hand to provide the necessary support during office hours (8am- 4pm). In addition, the Oakhill Online Hub (click here for more info) also provides a wealth of curated resources to assist with any IT issues that you and your child may experience.

For any support related to devices, such as how-to hotspot from a phone to a computer, problems with switching on
a device, WIFI, etc, please contact:

● Andries de Beer ( IT Administrator) 079 912 1090 or email a.debeer@oakhill.co.za 
● Arthur Vhiza ( IT Technician) 083 215 6541 or email a.vhiza@oakhill.co.za

For support related to the Google for Education Apps please visit the Oakhill Online Hub to submit an online request
( click here to link to the request form ) for support or click here to book a one-on-one calendar session with Dylan Langheim ( Ed Tech Director).

Teacher support

Our teachers are available for any questions and support during the Online academic day if they are not teaching, as well as between 15:15 and 16:15 every afternoon except for Fridays. Please note for weekend communication teachers will more than likely respond to students; however, if they don’t please understand that may have taken some time out from their devices as should everyone during the lockdown.

Public Holidays 27 April and 1 May

To make up for some of the time lost at the end of Term 1, online teaching and learning will take place on Monday 27 April; however, for Friday 1 May, it is dependent on the outcome of the President’s announcement later this week. If the lockdown is extended and/or social distancing put in place we will continue with online teaching, if it is lifted then we will observe the public holiday (1 May). This will be duly communicated.

In closing, thank you to the Oakhill community for their continued support and patience, despite the challenging circumstances, in ensuring the best interest of our students educationally, socially and emotionally.

Warm regards
Wayne Purchase

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