St Leo's College - your new home on campus

Head of College Newsletter 2 - 19 June 2020

June 19, 2020

19 June 2020
Parents of St Leo’s Residents
By email – various

Dear Parents of St Leo’s Residents

This is the second newsletter in which I find myself reflecting upon what has been an eerily
quiet term. Despite the quietness, we have been busy, and at this time of the year, there is
always an industriousness as our residents prepare for their exams. Almost to a man, those of
our residents who have stayed at St Leo’s during the shutdown have cheerfully complied with
the various measures the College has had to introduce to ensure not only our safety, but also
that we have the scope to put into effect quarantine zones and systems. It hasn’t been a barrel
of laughs, but we have come through it, in what has been an excellent team effort. Special
mention to stand-in Students’ Club President Andrew Wilson, who has assisted our messaging
and comms with not only Leo’s residents, but other colleges’ students, as well.

It’ll come as no surprise that St Leo’s off-site catering operations were completely decimated
by the lockdown. On 1 March, Ilana and her team had 300 jobs booked in for the month. At
month’s end, we had completed two. Regrettably, we have lost many of our casual staff, but
through the jobkeeper scheme, we have been able to retain our fulltime caterers. These people,
ably led by our maintenance contractor, Curt Swenson have painted their ways through G and
H Blocks, something that we had scheduled professional painters to undertake in the 2020
summer recess. The kitchen is also the cleanest it’s ever looked and we’ve been able to get
all types of projects started and completed. The St Leo’s Council has also continued its
governance work, and I acknowledge and thank St Leo’s Councillors for their support in these
extraordinary times. I’d also like to acknowledge the fine work of the St Leo’s staff – each of
whom has been on a reduced .6FTE, or three day per week roster. Even with reduced hours
we’ve managed to keep the College recruitment, maintenance and building enhancement
cycles operational and are aiming to position ourselves to be ready to receive our 2021 intake.
Without tempting fate, it appears that Queensland is getting ready to make its way back to life.
Whereas a few weeks ago, I was supplying families with Certificates of Residency to assist
those residents who may have to drive 250ks+, now of course, Queenslanders can travel
anywhere they like in the state, and may even stay over! In a similar vein, preparations and
planning are underway to salvage what we can from our first semester sporting and cultural
life and get that back on in semester 2. I know ICC is hopeful that, subject to health agencies’
advice, ICC sport can be up and running from the first week back in August.

Parents will be interested to learn that of the 203 young men who commenced in February
2020 (three of our international enrolments never actually turned up), we’re expecting about
175 to return for second semester. As at the time of writing, the 28 or so who look like they
have elected to remain at home, are overwhelmingly from our First Year cohort. We have had
hardly any men from Second or Third Year who have indicated that they will not return. It looks
like once you’re bitten by the St Leo’s bug, you keep coming back for more.

I have noted below the dates upon which we understand each of the Brisbane-based
universities will commence semester 2. Unfortunately, there is quite a spread, the earliest on
13 July, and the latest on 3 August.

The University of Queensland (UQ) – Monday, 3 August
Australian Catholic University (ACU) – Monday, 27 July
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) – Monday, 20 July
Griffith University (GU) – Monday, 13 July (trimester 2)
University of Southern Queensland (USQ) – Monday, 13 July
Central Queensland University (CQU) – Monday 13 July

The University of Queensland’s re-arranged semester 1 concludes on Saturday, 11 July, the
final day in the extended exam block. Again for reasons to do with residents being unable to
travel, some St Leo’s residents will be remaining at St Leo’s for the duration of the June/July
recess, awaiting the commencement of their respective universities’ semester 2.

As you’ll recall on 5 April, St Leo’s paused receiving payments from St Leo’s families - whether
fortnightly, semesterly or yearly. Since 5 April, St Leo’s has charged pro-rated casual tariffs for
each night that residents are in house. I propose to continue with that arrangement for the
foreseeable future, and to return to the 39 Week Residential Agreement Payment Plans some
time in July.

Each UQ college is unique in respect of the arrangements it has put in place re the Residential
Agreements that they have with their families. I have been asked whether St Leo’s will be
seeking to recoup the monies that were otherwise payable between 5 April and whenever
Payment Plans re-commence. To be clear, St Leo’s made the gesture to freeze/pause
Payment Plan fees to assist families through the difficulties that corona foisted on us all. To
avoid any doubt, St Leo’s won’t be requiring any payment for the pause period. There was
quite a bit of thought invested in the construction that permitted St Leo’s to use the frozen fees’
model, not least of which was staff being asked and agreeing to go .6FTE and also greatly
reducing our overheads.

We’re looking forward to seeing your sons back at St Leo’s for their respective second
semesters and College life returning to normal as quickly as is safely possible.

Second term wasn’t a complete write-off, though. St Leo’s has a proud tradition of recognising
our ANZAC veterans and those Leonians who served. Along with other Australians honouring
our servicemen and women, those Leonians in-house the morning of 25 April gathered in our
driveway. Harry Hooper, whose great uncle served in World War II read the Ode. I’ve included
some photos from that morning further below.

In line with the state government’s relaxation of restrictions, we’ve been able to let the boys
again use some of our public spaces – chief amongst these the JCR which has been given a
particularly good workout following the re-convening of the NRL season. We’ve also been able
to re-introduce Thursday and Sunday evening quad summaries, a real favourite after months
of lockdown. Last Thursday and again last night, St Leo’s and Duchesne had their first
exchange dinners, twenty of our young men enjoyed the company of the ladies of Duchesne
the evening of 11 June and we were graced with their company last night. Slowly returning
ourselves to normal.

Again as a result of covid, Glen and I have been unable to visit schools and tell the St Leo’s
story. The next best thing was to do a “day in the life of” video. I have included it in a link below.
Thank you to Hayden Bellingham, Dave Bagshaw and Michael Gould, as well as the boys who
were in-house giving up the afternoon and evening of 9 June to bring it together. Please feel
free to share it far and wide.

The College Executive is in the final stages of creating St Leo’s Covid-safe Plan, the document
that will set out the ways in which St Leo’s will manage the risks that receiving residents back
into the College will entail. It will be published on our website in the next couple of weeks. You
can be assured that our commitment to increased cleaning and social distancing will be front
and centre in managing the risks, but so will initiatives like individualized dining and treating
each Block within the College as a household.

Here in the second week of UQ’s Swotvac, St Leo’s residents are again applying themselves
to their studies and preparing for the new look online exam regime. Despite the upheavals of
the past three months, we’re hopeful that our residents will again lift for exams and that as is
the case every semester, we find ourselves celebrating fine results.

Should parents wish to speak further with me about anything in the foregoing, please don’t
hesitate to contact me. I’ll be writing again in the next few days to advise the re-commencement
dates for payment Plans A, B and C. The College will be in touch later in the year about those
events that we are able to convene. At this stage our Duhig lecture, scheduled in 2020 for
Tuesday, 18 August remains in our calendar. Our speaker is Lieutenant General (ret’d) David
Morrison AO Australian of the Year in 2016 and former Chief of the Army.

I have included some photos of a few of the activities that we have been able to convene across
the last few months. It’s not quite the Leo’s experience that we’ve known before, but it’s been
handled in the same Leo’s type of way.

Please feel free to share this newsletter with any of your friends or old boys who you think
might like an update on how things have been at St Leo’s. I look forward to seeing Parents at
the College across the balance of the year and to the rest of 2020 being far less eventful.

With best wishes

Stephen Foley
Head of College & Chief Executive
St Leo’s College
College Road
Within The University of Queensland

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