From the Principal
One of my favourite books is 'In the Wake of the Plague' by medieval historian Norman Cantor. His writing is colourful, evocative and really engaging. He brings the chaos and the trauma of mid-fourteenth century Europe to vivid life - even while describing an event which was so incredibly tragic. I mention it here not because it is perversely topical, but because when it comes to managing the current crisis, we should be comforted by the fact that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. The Great Plague of 1348 brought confusion and panic and was not fully explicable to the people who felt its impact, but it started an ongoing curiosity about public health that has strengthened our collective ability to deal with crisis.
Subsequent pandemics were managed better, to the point that by the 1800s, we were able to establish through scientific method the causes of things like cholera, typhoid and diseases like the plague. Indeed, much of the base practice in managing the current pandemic was learnt during the tragedy of the Spanish Flu, which followed the First World War. So, whilst we should be concerned, and vigilant, and protective - we do ourselves a real disservice if we panic.
Lenin famously said that, 'Every society is three meals away from chaos'. This is intertwined with the instinct that informs panic buying and hoarding, which sadly is impacting upon our communities today. At Mary MacKillop, we talk a lot to our students about resilience and inner strength. As a community we are going to have to draw on our stores of resilience, and our sense of community, and our faith, over the next few months. This may mean having faith that the supermarkets will remain stocked. It may mean periods of closure of schools and other services. At this stage, as you have probably reckoned from the constant communication from my desk, the guidance coming in changes regularly. The constant though is the importance of supporting our community, or families and maintaining a resilient and positive outlook.
Please check in on these links regularly, as well as your emails to stay up-to-date with the the impact of the pandemic on the College.
Yesterday was the Feast of St Joseph. As a College inspired by the Sisters of St Joseph it is a special day for us. It is also a really special day for me. When we buried my father in 2011, we chose St Joseph for his memorial card. We did this because St Joseph is the Patron Saint of the Worker. Over time though, I've come to learn more of St Joseph's message for us, and his role in the Catholic story.
Although he his voiceless in the Gospels, without his presence and guidance there is no Gospel, and there is no Easter. Just as Mary's 'yes' to the Angel starts the story, it is Joseph's 'yes' to Mary that allows it to bloom. He is described as a just and generous man - a man of trust and faith. Most importantly, he is described as a man who protected and guided his family in a time of stress and strain. It is a topical message today.
You will have already received messages from me regarding the Pupil Free Day on 27 March. This is a really positive initiative by the Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office and one we will take full advantage of. At this stage, Mary MacKillop Catholic College has no plans to close. As you will have seen via the media, the debate is ongoing and multi-sided. We will follow the guidance of the Catholic Schools Office who are in regular contact with Education Queensland and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission. I ask please that you keep sending your children into school unless you fall under one of the published categories for self-isolation. Please remember that if there is a closure, it could run for months, not weeks. Every day that your child is at school and with their peers, and enjoying their 'normal' experience, is one day less of isolation. As you have seen from my letters to you, we are taking positive steps as a College to maintain a hygienic and (as much as possible) low risk environment.
Lastly, please look after yourselves at this time. Inevitably, the media is on overdrive in publishing alarmist cases, and the culture of lockdowns, images of intensive care units, published illness rates and so on can create hyper-vigilance and stress for all of us. Conscious self-care is not only a nice thing - in times like this it is necessary. Please do the things that make it possible for you to be strong and well enough to support your family through this.