Commencing Term 3 under the increased freedoms of the new Emmaus “COVID-19 Step 3 Restriction Easing” measures has been such a blessing! Seeing parents entering the school grounds in the morning and afternoons restores one of the personal highlights of my days. ‘Modified-social-greetings’ (not shaking hands) however still seems rude for me when I encounter parents so please accept this as my ‘blanket’ apology!
Under Step 3 easing measures we will also now see an increase in Emmaus sports, excursions, camps, and other parent gatherings/events. As ‘social-distancing’ measures still remain in terms of people per square metre for indoor gatherings and distance between people in general, we are not yet permitting parents to enter classrooms or assemblies. This will also restrict participant numbers for other College performance events in the second part of the year. Unfortunately this will necessitate restricting/rationing attendance at such events. I ask that you please be understanding and respectful when/if such measures impact you or your family. I can assure you the College is committed to doing our best in this respect, however anticipate there will still be times of disappointment. It is my hope however that these restrictions will soon be up for further review and we can resume parent involvement in these important areas too with less restriction.
As I reflect on a Term 2 like no other in my almost 30 years in education there are many lessons I have learnt. In time these will no doubt provide endless devotion/sermon themes and illustrations for future use and I would like to share one of these with you today.
In the height of the pandemic a few months ago I saw the below photos from Las Vegas, America which really rattled me! By way of explanation, this is the Las Vegas City Council’s ‘honourable’ efforts to take care of their homeless community – helping them keep safe from the COVID-19 virus by assisting them exercising social distancing practices. I am sure their intentions were well-meaning and honourable. I am also sure they genuinely believed they were making a real positive difference in the lives of the cities most marginalised. They likely also acted with a genuine heart of compassion for people, and looked back over their work with a sense of deep fulfilment and satisfaction.
Somehow it seems to me they have completely missed the actual point, even bordering on being demeaning and humiliating towards those where dignity is likely already an issue! Even if solving the many and varied elements behind homelessness was overwhelming and unrealistic at that time, the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of empty hotel rooms across Las Vegas due to National and International travel bans should have crossed someones mind - surely! I am sure the many decision makers behind this plan are very well educated, highly experienced, and probably well paid (and most likely some even have strong and active faith’s too), yet somehow this ‘plan’ was still actioned! I do not reflect on this account with a self-righteous heart and certainly acknowledge the many ‘logs’ in my own eye, this however served as a time of personal re-calibration for me.
As I reflect on this situation I am challenged to ensure at Emmaus we do not just build skills, abilities, and knowledge in our children; or develop in them an ‘inert’ type of Christianity (where they acquire a lot of head knowledge about God and His ‘story’ only). Our challenge as Christian parents and teachers at Emmaus must be to develop well-balanced socially aware graduates who put their faith in action into all they do. A faith based ‘moral-compass’ should not be a tool which can be used but a ‘world-view’ through which all we do and think resonates from.