The effects of COVID-19 have been far reaching and experienced by us all. What is most pleasing is how here in South Australia we have been able to return to a normal way of life in more ways than what has been possible in the eastern states and indeed the rest of the world, with restrictions on travel proving to be the most evident inconvenience for all of us. The inability to cross borders has produced significant emotional challenges for our international and interstate boarding students and their families.
Boarding provides an intensive schooling experience for students in their formative years. Twenty-four hours on campus each day for up to 11 weeks results in our boarding students ‘living and breathing’ St Peter’s College each term. Holiday breaks are approached with great anticipation by the boys and, in a normal year, we would see all of our 100 boarding students return home domestically and internationally. Time at home with family and friends is something our boarding students do not take for granted after living away for extended periods of time. 2020 has not been a normal year and for 18 of our students, a return home has not been possible since they arrived at School in January for the start of Term 1. For the majority of these 18 young men, they have lived on campus for the past 270 days without the opportunity to go home. Additionally, the difficulty for our local families to send their son away to boarding school has never been more challenging than it has in 2020.
Developing an engaging program whilst finding the balance with down time has been instrumental in providing a home-like environment during the holiday breaks. The Boarding House staff have ensured that our residential services have continued in non-term time, and the boys have been well supported, engaged and provided with a positive experience during a very challenging year. The wider support of our School psychologists, catering, cleaning and maintenance teams along with the many staff and parents who have offered their support has been a wonderful reflection of service and care; actions that we can all be proud of as members of the St Peter’s College community. Additionally, the respect, kindness and care shown by our boarding students who have been able to return home has been extraordinary and had a meaningful impact on our boarding community as a whole. While this year has been undeniably difficult, there is no doubt that we as a community will be stronger because of it.
As the 2020 school year quickly draws to a close, it is important to know that a return home will still not be possible for some of our boarding students. Please keep these boys and their families in your thoughts and prayers as we look forward to the end of COVID-19 and the return of a positive way of life.
Director of Boarding, International and Indigenous Programs