It was back to earth with a rather large bump for me, last week. The excitement and fabulousness of my study tour of Israel ended somewhat abruptly, with the home journey involving three days stuck in Turkey (flight arrangements seem to be all over the place at the moment), a suitcase which found it a challenge to travel on the same planes as me and a very exciting trip on a speeding e-vehicle with flashing lights which enabled me to successfully make my plane connection across the vast distances of the Singapore terminals. Add to that, the fact that at some point on the way home I contracted COVID and have been imprisoned in my bedroom for the past seven days, and it may become clear why my study tour seems like a distant memory!

Having COVID was a little sobering – although working from bed was warm and comfortable and the dog seemed to enjoy the unexpected company, it’s not the same as being on campus. I missed standing at the gate and wandering around and being able to chat to lots of different people. I have felt a bit of a failure for a week – I am a rubbish patient and had fully intended to be the one person who didn’t succumb to the virus (I’m well aware that this was an illogical plan) and I have not enjoyed being quite so ill. I can deal with the very bizarre loss of my sense of smell, but the exploding head pain has been appalling and I suspect the annoying cough will last for a while. My best wishes go out to the many people who are still suffering and I hope for their speedy recovery.

I have been following the daily government COVID figures and although the numbers of our students affected has been small, the increases in numbers of cases in WA have been reflected in significant increases in staff sickness at Carmel School. This has meant significant extra work for staff covering colleagues and, as always, we are very grateful for this. As parents will have seen in my recent email, the government has asked us to strongly encourage mask wearing in a bid to reduce viral transmission. We continue to open classroom doors and windows to assist ventilation and I imagine that your children have by now become proficient at automatically and regularly washing or sanitising their hands. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference and I thank you for backing up our efforts to keep the School as healthy as we can.

One of the things I learnt during my recent trip to Israel was about the impressive work of the JNF, so it was good to hear this week that we will all have the opportunity to help with their fundraising efforts later in the year. Please save the date of Sunday 11th September in your diary – details will be circulated by Nikki Leib and her team soon. This year’s event focuses on fundraising specifically to provide safe playgrounds for children in the Sha’ar HaNegev region of Israel, who live under the very real possibility of encountering rocket attacks on their communities. The JNF plans to build protected, green spaces to enable these children to play safely outside – something that I take for granted for my own children and those of Carmel School.

Playgrounds have also been a topic of conversation with my Learning Enrichment Activity Program (L.E.A.P.) class over the past term, as they have been working on a project investigating possibilities for our own Primary School playground. Starting with a budget of zero, we enjoyed a discussion with a fundraiser in the United States, who talked about ‘engaging the hearts and minds’ of potential donors. I found his current KPI of raising $80 million US dollars this year a little daunting, but one intrepid group in our class has been investigating fundraising possibilities for us in Perth. Another group has explored the types of playgrounds that can be constructed and yet another has been measuring out and mapping the area under consideration. The group whose work is about to bear fruit, is the one which has planned an excursion for us to visit local playgrounds on the 5th of August, including planning the route, writing to parents, engaging Mr Shadgett as our bus driver and completing the necessary but tedious risk mitigation strategies for the paperwork. You would have enjoyed reading their strategies for mitigating travel sickness, bus crashes and broken bones. My plan is that we encounter none of these, but have a stimulating morning in the outdoors, exploring various playgrounds and returning with a myriad of ideas for our own.

I hope you find time to spend in the great outdoors this week. Also, as a valued member of our Carmel School community, we'd greatly appreciate your time to complete our Jewish Life and Learning Review survey which is now live until Thursday 11 August 2022 and can be accessed here.

Julie Harris