How I am handling coronavirus lockdown – Q & A with Br Nicholas Harsas

This article originally appeared in the Liverpool Champion by Craig Thomson as a series on how Western Sydney residents are handling self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are you reading?

With school presently on holidays and the health advice to stay at home, I do have time to read and to finish books that have been started over the last term.

The books I am currently reading are ‘Teacher’ by Gabbie Stroud, ‘Deep Learning: Engage the World, Change the World’ by Joanne McEachen, Joanne Quinn, and Michael Fullan and ‘The Way of the Shepherd’ by Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak; and of course the current online edition of the “Liverpool Champion”!

What are you watching?

Over Easter, it was great having access to the religious services that were available and live-streamed on television, especially the broadcasts from St Mary’s Cathedral on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

I am keeping up to date with daily news and current affairs and balancing this with much lighter entertainment, including GoggleBox and Lego Masters Australia.

And in this time of pandemic, I seem to be watching Zoom more than anything else!!

What music are you listening to?

The “Music for Hope” concert performed by Andrea Bocelli live from Duomo Cathedral in Milan on Easter Sunday was very moving. I have now listened to him singing this collection of songs a number of times. Before that and before the end of Term 1 my favourite song seems to have been ‘These Clean Hands!’ (Fun Hand-Washing Song for Kids) by Andrew Chinn, which is perfect in a primary school setting, as a reminder of good hygiene!! The children would accompany the singing of the song each morning as they anticipated the bell sounding at the beginning of the school day.

My Spotify playlist with a mix of songs is always a good standby.

What are you cooking?

This is a great time to perfect my cooking skills and I am experimenting as I write!!

How are you staying fit, both physically and mentally?

Going for walks and gardening are supporting my fitness. Eating healthily and getting adequate sleep are most important too. Reading, resting, making appropriate contact with family and friends, and writing are all useful tools for general wellbeing.

Of course, with schools remaining open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I am kept busy with the leadership of the school and daily, and prized, engagement with students, staff and parents in the Holy Spirit School community.

What’s the one thing keeping you sane?

Prayer is the most important thing for me, and there are many to pray for and much to pray for at the present time!

Are you working from home?

Education continues throughout this pandemic, providing continuity of learning for the students as best we can. The last few weeks of the school term, when most people had the opportunity to work from home, the staff of Holy Spirit Primary School willingly chose to come into school to support me, collaborate and plan with their colleagues and to be a support for the students who were attending.

The teachers are very aware of the current and unprecedented situation and are consistently focused on the students in their care. As Principal of Holy Spirit Primary School, I commend them for their dedication and support of the school community, consisting of students, parents and fellow staff.

Our parents are most grateful for the constant support being provided to them as they assist their children in this daunting new era of “remote learning.” The ways the teachers have taken on and embraced remote and online teaching of the students has been extraordinary and they deserve great praise.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

The charity and kindness of others has been most pleasing to witness. The support of others to assist those who are experiencing any form of hardship at this present moment is extraordinary. We give witness to ‘we are all in this together’ and I hope and pray this continues long after the end of the pandemic.

I believe we will come out of this with a much more positive outlook. I think this has made us realise the importance of spending time with significant others and to enjoy the simple things in life.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I have learnt of the need to be calm, positive and flexible. Being a model of calmness and positivity amidst the uncertainty and fear helps to keep others calm and positive and to be better equipped to continue with their learning, work and life. The need to be flexible has been an enormous learning for me as I am usually a very organised person but with the crisis, things are happening and changing at rapid speed and so must I in my leadership, ministry and life.

What’s your advice for others to cope with the crisis?

To follow the advice of our civic leaders so as to continue to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 in NSW and Australia, to support others as best we can, especially those most vulnerable and to have hope. Easter is a reminder of hope to us all and that out of these dark and troubling days will come light and peace.

2020-05-14T02:02:23+00:00
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