Campus News

A Term to Remember in Darwin

It is safe to say that Term 1 at Haileybury Rendall School has been unique. To begin the year, we were not even sure that schools in the Northern Territory would open on time—or at all—as the COVID-19 pandemic took a foothold in Darwin and the surrounding area. Once we committed to opening, we began to learn a new language and to live our lives with new restrictions.

We discovered that a Rapid Antigen Test was a RAT and then we learned how to use them. We learned about saliva and nasal swabs, we looked for light pink positive lines and we still relied on PCRs just to be sure. We had to find how to order hundreds of RATs at once.

Then we learned to live with masks at school and in the street. We learned about CO2 monitors, air purification and hepa-filters. We got vaccinated and then boosted. We separated desks and socially distanced from our friends and colleagues.

Along the way, many members of our community have caught the COVID virus or ‘tested positive’. Then we learned about isolation, close contacts, mutually agreed return to work and QR codes. We discovered that half our family could test positive and the other half could stay negative and go to school. But never go to school with symptoms!

Thankfully, not too many members of our community have reported being very sick for too long. To those who have been unwell, we have wished them all the best and supported them back to HRS.

While all this was happening, our School has forged ahead. Our enrolments have grown to around 880 students, including around 90 boarders. We have welcomed some great new teachers and non-teaching staff. We have opened Building 8 and our new Boarding House will be open at the start of Term 2. We have introduced Learning Behaviours and Continuous Reporting over SEQTA. We held all our Parent–Teacher Interviews over Zoom.

Importantly, for our students, we still managed a great range of events and extra-curricular activities while following the COVID-safe guidelines. Many rehearsals for our school production of Beauty and the Beast have occurred and we can’t wait to see this show in mid-June at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

Sport has returned, where possible, with some inter-school events and several teams representing HRS in the Darwin Basketball Association. Earlier this week, it was great to see our Clontarf boys take on Melbourne’s Scotch College in a game of AFL. Junior School after-school swimming, dance, art and basketball clubs have also been able to occur. The Year 7 Connection Day was another highlight in a complicated term.

What we all miss is coming together in person as a community. Parents have not been allowed to attend events on site and we postponed our Annual Parent and Staff Cocktail Party, but it will happen…sometime this year!

Finally, thank you to everyone for working with us across this most unusual term. Again, our community has proven itself to be agile, flexible and resilient. Let’s hope things open up again soon.

Andrew McGregor

Principal, Haileybury Rendall School