Letter from SGB & Headmaster
Update on the impact of COVID-19 on Maritzburg College
Dear Parents and Guardians
Update on the impact of COVID-19 on Maritzburg College
Following on from our previous communications, again, we trust that you and your families are all safe and managing the extended school closure and lockdown with true RedBlackWhite spirit. We are hopeful that we will all look forward to the time when these unusual circumstances and the effects thereof are firmly behind us. Until then, the leadership of the school is totally focused on the task at hand.
Firstly, we would like to thank the parent body for their patience and understanding. There are many sacrifices that we have all had to make and this shows what an amazing family the College community is. We thought it best, for ease of reference, to deal with matters in point form.
Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on populations and economies around the world. The other aspect that is being communicated is that those who have underlying health conditions and the aged are most at risk. While our boys do not fall into this category, we are well aware that they can be carriers and affect those in the risk category.
School Re-opening Date
The date set for 6th Form to return is Monday 1st June and we have already received health guidelines from the DOE. The Covid Health and Safety committee under the leadership of Mr Swart are meeting daily and activating any measures that are required. The understanding that we currently have is that, each school’s state of readiness, will determine how quickly the other forms can return. We are working very hard to ensure that we are, as a school, as COVID compliant as we can be in these difficult circumstances. We are hoping that we will receive further updates from the Department of Education by 11th May.
In this crisis, College and its academic staff have risen to the challenge of providing online learning resources and study material to our boys to ensure that they are kept up to date with the curriculum. The use of a variety of platforms has ensured that as many of our boys are reached as possible. Boys are given every opportunity to engage with their teachers via email, WhatsApp and MSTeams, and we encourage them to do so, as learning is a two-way street, and pupil engagement during online education is critical in determining its success At this stage, we have little clarity from the DBE as far as examinable content is concerned, but we can assure you, that our staff will keep your boys fully informed once we do. What we do know is that all internal examinations for June have been cancelled.
This is one area that Covid-19 is having a devastating effect, even with all the new data being made available, there are still too many unknowns to be able to predict the outcome for 2020. What we have committed to is giving priority to the winter sports programme if this is at all feasible and permissible. As we receive more direction, we will provide you with further feedback.
We have all been effected by the lockdown in one way or another, some more than others. While this is the reality, we again ask that all of us make the payment of school fees a priority. It is imperative that we make sure that College is given the resources to maintain the high level of education your sons enjoy. We are still waiting to see whether there will be any government assistance.
There have been some cost savings to date – mostly in the BE. The problem we have is that we cannot at this stage confirm that they will be achievable. As it stands currently, the days lost during lockdown will be made up by shortening holidays and extending the 4th term further into December. Using the 1st of June return date, this swop out can almost be guaranteed for 6th Form, leaving no savings. As and when the other forms return and the new school calendar is confirmed, any possible savings can then be calculated. For boarders, there is potentially a R500 per week saving.
Budget Implications and Austerity Measures
Probably the only thing certain in this crisis, is the negative effect it will have on College’s budgeted revenue. We have already had to cancel many revenue generating events and many other avenues of income are in doubt. As our budget is calculated with zero profit, there can be no cash reserves.
In the last couple of days the school’s EXCO and FINCOM have met for a combined 7 hours, dealing with this and other matters.
Other than freezing capital expenditure and cutting all unnecessary costs, the following process has been put in place. We have asked EXCO and all budget heads to review their existing budget and expenses and to see what can be saved by means of budget re-allocation, cost cutting, salary sacrifices and finally retrenchments. While retrenchments are the last port of call, unfortunately in an organisation such as College where the majority of costs are salaries, this is a possibility. The academic staff will be the least likely to be affected at this stage.
Again, it is often only in times of crisis that an organisation’s true strength is visible. It has been extremely satisfying to see everyone pull together during this challenging time. College will overcome these hurdles and is committed to providing your son a full year’s education.
Pro Aris et Focis
Yours in College
Doug Mundell Chairman: Governing Body Chris Luman Headmaster
5th May 2020