Posted by Kerry Martin
on 18 September 2020
As De La Salle College Malvern's First Aid Officer, Kylie Upton's days are never boring. Responsible for more than 1,100 students, she has seen it all, but nothing could have prepared her for COVID-19. Working as part of a frontline team to implement the College's health response to the pandemic, Ms Upton had to think laterally and quickly to ensure students and staff were safe.
"On Sunday 22 March 2020, we received the news that all schools across Victoria would close and within days the College was put into "lockdown."
Ms Upton, who has been the First Aid Officer at the College since 2012, never dreamed she would ever experience a lockdown and would be required to care for students during a pandemic. "Victoria was fighting a deadly virus, a virus that we couldn't see, smell, taste or hear and the College needed to be ready," she said.
With teachers busy designing curriculum materials to deliver remotely, Ms Upton was preparing the College for those students who would not be able to learn from home. "The holidays provided valuable time to facilitate the requirements at school for the students of "essential workers" and those considered "vulnerable." During the term break she organised a drive through flu vaccination to which more than 100 teachers and support staff were vaccinated from their cars.
The Health Centre quickly responded to welcome students back under lockdown conditions. "We needed to regularly monitor student's temperatures and maintain strict hygiene and social distancing measures. The Health Centre acquired infra-red non-contact thermometers, alcohol swabs, disposable gloves and hand sanitisers."
Ms Upton said it was vital to regularly liaise with the Department of Health and systematic tracking of College community members who had been in close contact with confirmed cases was established and every negative test result received brought a small sense of relief, knowing our College community was safe from this virus.
Day one of Term 2 was like no other, with seven students arriving at Tiverton to commence the term. They were accommodated in the Rheims Centre and were closely monitored by Ms Upton and a small team of teachers.
"Our first recess presented a new problem. How to keep students entertained during recess and lunch time. We took the risk, disinfected a basketball and let them out in the sunshine to make the most of the entire College grounds. By lunchtime they were friends and after temperature checks and hand sanitising we survived our first day."
"Fast forward to day four and the students, now referring to themselves as "Class Iso 2020", elected a senior student, Thomas Simpson as "Captain Iso". Deputy Principal of Students, Jessica Alger (safely) presented Thomas with a Class Captain Badge, which he pinned on himself due to the physical distancing rules."
"I am enormously proud of our COVID-19 cohort. I want them all to look back fondly on our surreal days spent together and know that De La Salle College and the Health Centre cared about them and went to great lengths to keep them safe whilst in our care."
With students now back on campus and adapting to the "new normal", Ms Upton is constantly vigilant, making sure that appropriate hygiene and safety measures are followed.
Click HERE to download the September issue of 'Roll Call' showcases some of their stories, updates the reader on student and community activities and how our De La Salle community is coping in our new normal.