In some ways, there’s been so much ‘entertainment’ during lockdown, even if it is being delivered in a different way. At Easter when 84-year-old ‘Granny’ was lamenting the fact that she was missing ‘the Easter Bingo’, we had a Zoom Bingo session! No mean feat for a younger generation more familiar with the entertainment scene in Belfast than the Co. Armagh Bingo. The teenage grandchildren learned a lot about life that night as they had the excitement of waiting for one number for a line or a house while sitting in a hallway, as that’s where the best wifi was!!!! Meanwhile Granny coolly plied her trade, marking not one but two Bingo books and never missed a single number! Two hours of concentration later, Gran left us all happy- she had had a laugh and a focus, and she felt that she had been at the Easter Bingo! As had we for that matter…
Zoom has apparently taken over the world or made it a smaller place and easier to keep in contact. Every Sunday afternoon we join a weekly Quiz. Once again it involves several generations of a very extended family, with groups of people with whom we would not normally have spent much time pre-COVID 19 lockdown. I’m no addition to any Quiz Team, but I wouldn’t miss this Zoom Quiz for the world. Slowly the teams trickle online. Another of the ‘more mature’ relatives makes a grand entrance each week starting with a lovely view of the ceiling and the remote promise of a voice. The readjustment of the ipad has improved week on week, and we’ve progressed from seeing the ceiling, to seeing the top of the picture hanging high up on the wall. It takes at least five minutes every week until we are treated to the inclusion of a head from eye level upwards. Last Sunday we saw a face to chin level. We have all acquired new skills- we have just had to be patient with each other. We are getting there, and we are all well worth the wait!
This week it was lovely for Teachers to catch up with many of you again by telephone. We are starting to plan a different pathway to take us through June 2020. Tonight, we have a video in the Photo Gallery of ‘The Dingle Dangle Scarecrow’ from our Speech and Language Therapists. Keeping with the country theme, don’t forget to check out details of the Farm Safety Poster Competition as well. So, this weekend whether you are at a Zoom Quiz, Yoga or Bingo, or catching up with family or friends, remember that it’s never too late to try something different- anything is possible when we have the right people there to support us …. we are all in this together… no point in rushing now… Until next Friday… stay well.
This was a ‘strange’ week when many of us let our minds race, hoping for a relaxation of lockdown restrictions. Thoughts wandered to indoor visits to shielding relatives or going fishing or golfing. We gained a little on these. However, at last, we got an answer to the question everyone was asking, with the announcement that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the current academic year. There was also confirmation that the reopening of schools in September will involve ‘a phased schedule with a mixture of school attendance/ remote learning at home’.
While news of schools remaining closed may add to the stress for some families, I am a great believer in ‘knowledge being power’. So now we know, and unlike in March when teachers had to change the delivery of learning almost overnight, this time around we have time during which to collect our thoughts, look at our schools and alongside DE, EA and our Governors, assess what the ‘new normal’ will look like after September. Yes, it will be different, but none of us made this happen-it just did. Yet again we have two options- we can either dwell on what we cannot change, i.e. COVID-19 and how our lives have transformed, or we can sit up, look around and say, ‘…well at the start I didn’t know if I was going to make it this far… but I did and do you know what, I think I can make it through the next part too!’ We realise that ‘being together again’ won’t be physically together until after the summer but it will feel good when it happens. Despite the uncertainty of how our school will operate, we will try our hardest to do the best we can for each and every child and young person in Lisanally, while supporting each other as friends and colleagues.
It is fitting that this week we have a video message/yoga session led by Barry McGleenan, our calm, grounded mentor. However, an even bigger reminder of the Lisanally Family lies in another surprise treat. This week our boys, girls and parents have kept a secret. We have a special video message which reminds us all of how important it has been to keep apart to keep well…. while at the same time looking forward to being together again. Get the tissues out, let the emotions flow… tonight’s video is about who binds us together, why we do what we do and why we cannot wait to share precious times again. Until next Friday… hold your head high, open your heart and let the positive people round you give you the strength you need. Tough times never last but tough people do.
Kind regards Sandra
I was thinking about how quickly the weeks pass, and I never thought I would say it, but I almost look forward to Mondays! However, it is with the hope that starting a new week will mean being closer to ‘normality’. The trouble is that by midweek, I often feel less enthused. Maybe it is related to not knowing how long all of this will last. Chalking up another week doesn’t always provide the clarity that I desire about a timeframe.
Every New Year, I enjoy starting a new ‘Family Calendar’, adding planned events for family members. I love occasions like Birthdays and family gatherings. I love holiday periods and adding details of a trip already booked. It’s not that I live a very exciting life all year round, but I do look forward to some things staying predictable and some things being new and different. This certainly has been a time for things not being predictable, and instead being new and different. During New Year 2020 planning, I couldn’t have imagined the ‘now’ as we know it. Instead, well laid plans have been postponed or even cancelled. I like things to happen. If they don’t happen, I like to make them happen. I find myself choosing to focus positively on the postponed events. At whatever stage they do occur, they will seem even more special because I will appreciate the fact that they can take place at all. Meanwhile, the problem is that I must be patient, as I still don’t know when I can finalise that calendar reshuffle!
Like me with my calendar, many of our children and young people rely on visual supports to clarify information. These aren’t easy times to help them make sense of something which is confusing even for us. While a specific roadmap with dates to signpost us beyond ‘now’ has not yet materialised for NI, there are many positive signs that what we have been doing has and is working well. Patience for us is recognising that things can happen, just in a different order than the one we had in mind. We are expecting our children and young people to cope with that when we aren’t too good at it ourselves! Together we are all playing our part… and we need to continue to play our part while staying as positive as we can… carefree days will come.
This week we have a few treats for our younger boys and girls. Jen from Jo Jingles sends a video message in the Photo Gallery. Meanwhile our Speech and Language Therapists have recorded both a Story and a Song video in the Home-School tab under Resources/Therapy/ SLT. A must for all to see! Until next Friday… stay well.
May 2020 was always going to be different anyway. When it emerged last year that the 2020 May Bank Holiday Monday was being moved to a Friday, we were all unsure as to what that would be like. In the end, having Bank Holiday Monday on a Friday during lockdown has not made much difference to any of us. Instead the current jokes about referring to the days of the week as ‘thatday’, ‘otherday’ or ‘someday’ all seem appropriate. Bank Holiday Friday has turned out to be… basically ‘day’.
This time last year, we were preparing for a school trip to Barcelona and Salou. The excitement was rising as suitcases were being packed and plans finalised. In hindsight, we ‘chose’ a good year to go and had a great trip. Ten years ago, our well laid plans to go to Paris were put on hold when relatively small volcanic eruptions caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe over an initial period of six days in April 2010. I remember sitting in my office while talking on the telephone on the morning of the day that we were due to fly out. While trying to obtain a decision from the airline as to whether the trip was on, students were obliviously wheeling their trolley suitcases past my office door, excited about and anticipating an afternoon flight! A bit like during COVID 19, some decisions by others were left as late as possible and, a bit like during COVID 19, we tried to make the most of a less than satisfactory situation. That day when we finally received confirmation that we weren’t heading to the airport, the group boarded the hired coach and headed off on a daytrip to W5 in Belfast. We just made the best out of a less than favourable situation. That’s what you are all doing now…that’s what we are all doing now, and it is helping us all along the way.
Last week’s staff video proved emotional for us all- most staff haven’t seen each other either since school closed. Of course, there are others who are an important part of the Lisanally Family. Jimmy, our EA Music Tutor, was delighted this week to record several short videos which prove that you don’t have to have expensive African Drums to make good music. With supervision while using some of the suggested kitchen tools, there are lots of ideas in these for creating your own music. The best news of all is that you are never too old to fulfil your dream- why not join in the music making session and form your own little ‘House Band’!!! Make that May Bank Holiday Friday memorable! Even I might sound musical… I live in hope!!! Until next Friday… stay well.
Let Music Brighten that Rainbow #TeamLisanally
Today sees the start of May, a month when school staff usually start to panic a bit! While countdown to the Summer holidays begins, there is also recognition of work to be undertaken in time for the June celebrations. In May, focus turns to completion of records. Talk includes ‘Have you done …?’ or ‘Who is going to do…?’ Inevitably people are assigned the jobs that they ‘are good at’- every school has someone who is ‘good at’ making booklets or certificates, labelling photos or even locating the photos in the first place! Some are ICT whizz kids who are worshipped and crowned as being ‘good at…!’ Others debate whether to order Shloer now or who will bake the shortbread for Prize Giving in June? Preparations begin for Religious Services, Coffee mornings, Sports Day and all those end of year events. Yes, May is almost as busy as June… well usually. This year it is different. Everything is different. The effort continues while staff work from home, but without the prospect of sharing in the celebrations. When May arrives next year, we won’t complain about being busy!
Wednesday was an exciting day when Teachers made contact by telephone with a lot of parents. It was nice to catch up. There was the opportunity to reassure parents that children will not have to repeat the next school year. Equally class lists/staffing have not been planned as yet- don’t worry about any of that. In relation to increased speculation regarding an early reopening of schools- there is no date for NI schools re-opening. While believing that reopening would indicate a return to normality, DE and EA will only permit schools to do so when it is safe.
Wednesday’s parental contact also provided an update on the use of online resources. Teachers have worked hard preparing and tailoring a wealth of weekly resources which take account of a wide range of needs. However, we also appreciate that other routines and activities may be working well for your child. This has always been a time for doing what works best for each of us. Staff, while working from home, also juggle roles involving caring for family members alongside home-schooling for their own children while preparing schoolwork for Lisanally students. We need to be gentle with ourselves- we are all doing the best we can.
As the weeks have passed, one key theme among staff is how much we all miss our children and young people. We’ve had great fun in recent weeks being creative in isolation and managed to pull together a staff video for you to sit back and enjoy. Until next Friday… stay well.
Hearts apart, but #OneAtHeart
Happy Friday! Despite the possibility of all our days and weeks rolling into one, somehow every week has seemed different. Some of us are operating in a carefree mode, while others have real fears that this virus will target us or our loved ones. When looking out for friends or family, it has never been easier to make that phone call, without intruding, to check if someone is alright. Equally it is important to try to remember to properly look after ourselves, particularly if we are focusing all our energies on caring for and entertaining others. Sometimes it is alright to sit down and simply do nothing, even for a short while (… note to self!!!)
The weekly photos, emails and texts convey how busy everyone has been creating magic for our children and young people. You have shared lovely activity ideas- from COVID time capsules, doing cooking and baking, jigsaws, treasure hunts, nature walks, household chores, cycling, playing basketball, trampolining. The smiles capture so much enjoyment.
As adults we may not have enjoyed all of our range of activities quite so much- cleaning, painting, laundry, power washing, building up walls, knocking down walls; but finishing a job that’s been put off for a summer or two… well there is definitely enjoyment in that!!!! If you’ve been able to avoid some of the ‘heavy duty jobs’ then, like me, you might have been ‘sent’ to the builder’s yard for supplies. If nothing else changes after this pandemic, one of my wishes would be to slow down the people who think they have bragging rights for being in the biggest hurry. The fact remains that some people still haven’t got used to the idea that ‘a queue is a queue, FOR EVERYBODY’. My exciting builder’s yard visits (??!!!) have involved at least one person per visit wandering casually to the top of the queue. ‘The Owner/Boss’ has only one way to deal with it- he orders the ‘offender’ to join the back of the queue, no excuses, and suddenly their need to hurry disappears…just like that!
While we have gone some way on our COVID-19 journey, pacing ourselves remains even more important than ever. Taking care of ourselves is crucial as we prepare for the next phase. We are in this for the long haul, together. There is no rush when it means we can remain safe and well. This is a marathon not a sprint- let’s trundle along steadily and look after each other so we can safely reach that finish line -together. It will be so worth it. So now practice your relaxation techniques - sit back and enjoy our little video capturing some of the activities you have been enjoying at home… and, not a queue in sight!!!! Until next Friday… stay well.
It was a different Easter break for us all. Easter Bunnies set an example of how social distancing can work! They created magic indoors and out and no one saw them come or go. Mind you the daily chocolate treats ever since have taken their toll. I would be happy for the Easter Bunny to return this weekend and hide the remaining chocolate- only this time please hide it where we cannot find it!!!
Looking back over the past couple of weeks, everyone’s trips to the shops have become less frequent. At Christmastime who would have thought that we would have to queue two metres apart for half an hour just to get into the local garage to buy milk and bread? I, for one, now consider if I really need something today or if it can wait. Old habits involved popping into a shop or garage most days for milk or bread and coming out with a bag of things I probably didn’t need. Maybe new habits will stick when we are over this situation.... I’m hoping!
With another week safely over, as well as the Easter Bunny visiting, I have also heard that the Tooth Fairy has been busy collecting a precious little tooth or two. Hearing about the Tooth Fairy led me on a trip down memory lane and I spent time looking at old family photo albums. As well as tears of nostalgia, I had a good laugh. Looking at those photos I can’t believe how quickly the years have passed and how much everyone has changed. Many precious memories captured, recollections buried and otherwise forgotten had we not got the photos to prompt fading recall.
The time spent apart as the Lisanally family is passing quickly too. Keep sending in those photos of your Easter activities and we will create a little online video of ‘Lisanally Easter 2020.’ The photos you are sharing will be important in the years ahead. They will tell a story which has also captured precious memories. We will have the photos on our phones or iPads and have shared them on social media. Maybe this is a time we should print them out and make that album or scrapbook and have something concrete to look back at or pass on... this is a moment in time with many positives along with the challenges and fears. Maybe the Lisanally challenge could be ‘how will you record the memories for your family?’
Next week the holidays are over, and it is back to hard work again for us all. Online learning resources will be available again from Monday 20th
April. There is plenty to keep everyone busy. Until next Friday… stay well.
We are on our Easter holidays- no more schoolwork for a whole week- Whoopee! Next online upload is Monday 20th April 2020. I bet that both parents and staff are particularly glad of the break at this time. It has involved hard work by everyone- well done to all. The photos coming in and the lovely emails have been passed on to staff. Keep sending them as we love to hear how things are going and if there is something additional and specific to an individual child, staff are glad to help. Just let me know and I will pass it on. We haven’t heard from everyone yet and we hope that all parents get a chance to drop an email or a text in the coming weeks. We are all thinking of you.
So this year we will have time to think about Easter egg hunts in the house or garden. We will have time to draw and paint or colour in lovely Easter pictures or paint those hard-boiled eggs and have an egg rolling competition. We will have time to use up the extra chocolate that we can’t eat (because we got too many Easter eggs!) and make delicious treats in the weeks ahead. Normally we have a mountain of chocolate left over and can’t manage to get around to making those additional treats- no excuses this year. Let’s get busy… and don’t forget to send those Easter photos in!
I’m starting to adjust to the Stay At Home And Stay Safe message and am praying that doing that will keep us safe and help us to see each other sooner rather than later. It’s not easy to not be able to go and visit loved ones especially at holiday time or meet up with friends for a cuppa. But this is only one Easter and one holiday period- Easter will happen again next year and every other year so we can do what we want then. One year of doing things differently won’t do us any real harm. It will make us appreciate other special family times. It has been humbling to see the rainbow being used to signify our support for NHS staff in recent weeks. We are privileged to have already had the rainbow as our Lisanally logo. There are many quotes around now but one that struck me was:
‘The greater your storm… the brighter your rainbow…’
Stay safe- even though there are no online resources being uploaded next week- we can catch up next Friday evening.
3rd April 2020
Hello to everyone
Even though every day I have had difficulty remembering which day of the week it is, I still cannot believe that it’s Friday again! So far all the things that I imagined that I would get done when I had ‘more time’ haven’t ‘got done’. Why? I still just haven’t got enough time!!! Old habits die hard that’s for sure.
So what has been happening since last Friday? We have added the first photos to the Gallery and it has been so exciting to see how busy everyone is at home… and happy too. We’ve loved seeing our children busy playing and having fun. Keep sending those photos in. Outside the birds have been singing away and seem to be oblivious to the fact that these are ‘strange times’. This year we are out and about and around to listen and actually enjoy the change in season. The sun is shining and the grass is beginning to grow more quickly. All are signs that there will be a ‘normal’ lifestyle again when this time passes, which it definitely will do.
So are there any things we have all got better at doing? Exercise regimes have improved. Sore muscles prove that the actual fitness levels have a long way to catch up. Despite the panic about food shortages I haven’t learned how to slow the appetites of family members- when there is precious little else to buy in the shops our food bill has soared! I will have to learn how to improve on that! What I am also learning is that it is important not to replace one workload with another. Yes there is still schoolwork in abundance waiting but what I have realized this week is that yes it too can wait... the world won’t crumble before bedtime if it is postponed. By thinking something must be done today... well we might just have missed out on a more important opportunity.
In the midst of the strangeness that is now, there is calmness. Calmness we probably have never had before, and for once we don’t know how long it will last. There’s no point in looking for answers on timeframes when there are none. Instead let’s all make sure we are breathing at our ease and open to letting that calmness seep in. A little more calmness in our lives never hurt anyone. Enjoy.
Stay safe- catch up next week and keep those photos coming in.
Please find PDF attached below - letter to parents from the Principal, 27th March.