Parent Handbook

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The Parent Handbook covers all the information you and your child will need.

If you have any further questions in relation to school times, dates, policies, or other general enquiries, please feel free to contact St Thomas Aquinas Primary, Springwood, by phone on 4754 2554 during weekdays between 8:30am and 4:00pm.

What to do When...

It is very important that your child’s teacher and the office staff are informed immediately, in order that you may be contacted in the event of an emergency.

Please do so immediately and return same to your child’s teacher or the office, as required.

Parents are asked not to send their child to school when he/she is not well. Children become very distressed when they are sick and they also run the risk of infecting the other children. Your child should be kept at home until well and, on his/her return, please send a signed note of explanation to the classroom teacher, stating the date/s of absence. If your child is well enough to return to school, but still requires medication, written notification stating dosage and the times medication is to be administered, should be given to the child’s teacher. Medication should be in measured doses. Similarly, children on maintenance medication also need to provide the school with full details.

Please send a note to your child’s teacher and then upon arrival at school, sign your child out in the green book. You will then be given a pass to present to your child's teacher.

Check the lost property box outside the Kindergarten classrooms. Please ensure that all items of clothing, and other items, are clearly marked with your child’s name.

Please contact the school office by telephone no later than 2:45pm so that a message can be passed onto your child via the class communication bag.

The school must be contacted, either in writing or by telephone, advising that someone other than yourself will be collecting your child from school.

Please contact the school office to organise a mutually convenient appointment time with the class teacher.

Procedures

If your child has a serious accident, we will inform you by telephone on your home, work or emergency contact number. If time does not permit, or you are not contactable, the Principal assumes responsibility and seeks medical treatment immediately. It is important to keep your contact numbers and emergency contact details updated for this reason.

A number of students at our school have severe allergies which are potentially life-threatening. To assist with the management of this serious medical condition, we request that you do not send any food products containing nuts, to school, as these are often a trigger for a reaction. CEO protocols stipulate that staff receive training in the management of anaphylaxis every two years. The school follows the protocols set out in the document Anaphylaxis Guideline for Schools – NSW Department of Education and Training (Second edition 2006).

To ensure the safety of students, animals such as family pets are not brought onto the school site. Animals can only be brought onto the site for educational purposes, with the approval of the Principal.

The school follows the NSW Department of Education and Training Animals in Schools (2001) Animal welfare guidelines for teachers.

The School Student Transport Scheme (SSTS) can only be used for travel between home and school, and for approved travel commencing between the hours of 6.30am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday on school days. It does not extend to activities such as school excursions or sports.

To be eligible for the scheme an applicant must be: a resident of NSW 4 years and 6 months of age or older and enrolled as one of the following:

  • an infant student (K-2) regardless of the distance between their home and school
  • a primary student (Years 3-6) who lives more than 1.6 kms (radial distance) from school, or 2.3 kms or more by the most direct practical walking route to the nearest entry point to the school.

Application forms are available from the school office.

Students are expected to behave themselves at all times whilst travelling on public transport. Parents are asked to reinforce these expectations. The bus company has the right to withdraw travel privileges due to inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.

Issues regarding behaviour on the bus should be referred to the Assistant Principal or Principal.

Morning
On arrival, children go to the asphalt area under the shelter, where they remain until the bell at 9.05am. A reminder to parents: teacher supervision commences at 8.35am. 
Note:  Children are not to take bags to the classrooms prior to the bell.

Afternoon
Students will be accompanied to the appropriate bus line by their class teacher. 

Wet Weather/Extreme Heat
In the event of heavy rain or extreme temperatures, afternoon bus lines will be formed in the Assembly Area.

Please Note: There is no canteen facility at St Thomas Aquinas school. All children need to bring their own food and drink with them each day. We ask that parents include in the lunch box a small towel/tea towel/placemat to be placed on the desk top at lunch time. Please label all towels, lunch boxes and drink containers. Meals for lunch can be ordered online via the My School Lunchbox site at the following link: http://www.myschoollunchbox.com.au/login.asp

No glass bottles or containers please.

All parents are to ensure their children arrive at school by 9.05am each school day.

The class roll must always be marked accurately to record daily attendances, as required by the 1987 Education and Public Instruction Act. Teachers are obliged, by the guidelines, to record in the class roll if, when, and the reason a student attends school for only part of a day, along with all the other requirements.

This means that if your child arrives late for school or leaves early, then a record of such must be made in the class roll book. A note for the class teacher is also required. If your child is absent from school for any reason, a note to the class teacher stating the reason for absence and the date/s, must be sent on his/her return. These notes should be received within 7 days or the absence is recorded as unjustified.

Parents of children on this form of medication need to make arrangements with the school for its safe administration. We would be grateful for parental support in the important issue of medications.

All items of clothing must be marked with your child’s full name and class. Other personal items such as drink bottles, lunch boxes and stationery, should also be labelled. The school has a lost property box located adjacent to the Assembly Area. All unclaimed items will be given to the clothing pool after a period of time. Lost items such as jewellery and money are kept in the school office.

Children who require prescribed medication to be administered at school must have it in a clearly labelled container with a measured dose only in each container labelled with the child’s name, dosage and timing, and most importantly, the name of the medication. Prescribed medication must be handed in to the school office, together with a letter from parents requesting that the school administer the medication. The letter should give details of dose, timing and name of medication. No children are to carry medication in their bags (with the exception of asthma relievers).

Important messages from parents for their children can be communicated via the school office. These messages frequently relate to changes to their going home routine. These notes are attached to the outside of the black communication bag each afternoon and are passed on to the student by the teacher.

Now and again, the school will hold mufti days for the children. On these days, the children wear sensible clothes (no strapless tops), hats and shoes appropriate for playing on the playground (no thongs or high heels).

As part of the school’s lunch eating procedures, children are made aware of the health and safety issues of not sharing food. We ask that parents reinforce this at home with your children. In light of this, we request that parents please refrain from bringing in hot foods (e.g hot chips, pizza etc.) for children to eat. Whilst these are nice treats they encourage children to share food.

If there is an issue in the classroom or in the playground, parents should initially contact their child’s class teacher. If necessary, the next person to be contacted is the Grade Reference Teacher. If a satisfactory resolution has not been reached, parents may contact the Assistant Principal or Principal. It is not appropriate for any parent to approach either other parents or their child/children with the intention of resolving a school issue.

From time to time student photos are used in school and Catholic Education Office promotional materials. If you do not wish any photos of your child/children to be used in such instances, please notify the Principal in writing.

Morning Drop Off

Option 1
Parents may use the church car park. The area adjacent to the gravel pathway may be only used as a “Kiss & Drop” area – parents are not to park their vehicle in this area. If a parent wishes to park & walk their child, they must use the marked parking spaces in the church car park. 
Important: Parents are not permitted to drive into the school bus bay area at any time.

Option 2
Parents may choose to park on St Columba’s Drive, opposite the school. However, parents are not permitted to STOP or PARK their vehicle between the NO STOPPING signs at and near the pedestrian crossing. Infringements may incur a fine or loss of points. 

Parents are asked to accompany children across the pedestrian crossing and access the school via the small gate and pathway.
Children are not to be dropped off in or near the opening of the bus bay, nor enter the school via the bus bay opening.

There is no pedestrian access into the bus bay.


Afternoon Pick Up

All children being collected from school must be collected from the silver seats adjacent to St Columba’s Drive. Note: Unless children are being collected early, parents are requested not to go directly to the classroom.

Parents may park on St Columba’s Drive, on the side opposite the school.  

Children are not to leave the school via the school bus bay opening.

Parents may also park in the marked parking bays in the church car park, then walk to the silver seats to collect their child/children.


Wet Weather

In the event of rain, parents collecting children will do so from the following rooms: Kindergarten & Yr 1: Multipurpose Room 2 (between LC4 & LC5), Years 2- 6: LC2 (located at base of ramp leading down from flag pole). These rooms have a sign displayed to indicate that they are wet weather pick-up rooms.

St Thomas Aquinas is covered for ambulance transport, if required, for any student at the school.

The school banking day for students is every Tuesday. The children can open a Youthsaver account with the Commonwealth Bank. Application forms are available from the office.

St Thomas Aquinas is a smoke-free zone; therefore, smoking is not permitted in the buildings or playgrounds.

St Thomas Aquinas is an accredited Asthma Friendly School. The procedures for students with asthma are as per the Asthma Foundation Protocols. Parents of children with Asthma are required to submit an Asthma Management Plan.

Morning: Teacher supervision commences at 8:35am. 
Children arriving before this time will not be supervised.
Afternoon: Teacher supervision concludes after the final bus leaves - approximately 3:40pm.

Please Note:
When collecting children early or bringing them late to school, parents/guardians must complete and sign a green note available from the school office.
Parents/guardians who are collecting or escorting their child, or visiting any part of the school for any reason, must sign in at the school office and collect a visitors badge before proceeding to the classroom. The student must then take the completed form to the class teacher.

Uniforms & Grooming

Our school uniform makes an unambiguous statement about who we are and what we stand for as a school. At St Thomas Aquinas, we expect our students to wear their uniforms correctly at all times. We believe that by encouraging students to take pride in themselves and their appearance we are promoting school spirit, self esteem and a sense of belonging to our school community. Our expectations are that:

  • Students wear the correct school uniform every day
  • Black leather shoes are worn on non-sport days and polished regularly
  • Shirts are tucked in at all times (except when at sport or at play)
  • Summer uniformsare worn in Terms 1 and 4
  • Winter uniforms are worn in Terms 2 and 3
  • School hatsare worn each day while outside and all year round (in keeping with the school’s Sunsafe policy). Hats can be purchased from the school office
  • School fleecy jacket (optional) may be worn with all uniforms
  • Sport uniforms are worn only on designated sports days.

We ask that parents reinforce these expectations with their children when they leave home for school.

All articles of clothing and belongings must be clearly marked with your child’s name.

If a student is unable to wear an element of the correct school uniform, a note from the parent indicating the reason needs to be presented to the teacher.

Students should wear neat and tidy hair styles to complement our school uniform. Hair is to be kept off the collar or tied back securely. No hair should be in the way of the eyes. These guidelines apply both to girls and boys and may assist in preventing the spread of head lice. Ribbons, scrunchies, hair slides etc, if worn, should be in the St Thomas Aquinas uniform colours of dark and/or light blue.

Students who consistently lapse in wearing the correct uniform and following the grooming policy will be referred to the Assistant Principal, and a note sent home.

Apart from one pair of sleepers or small plain studs and wristwatch, excessive jewellery is not permitted, for safety reasons. A chain with a cross or religious medallion may be worn under shirt or dress lines. Nails should be unvarnished, kept clean and neatly trimmed.

School uniforms can be purchased from the following store in Springwood:

Principal School Wear
Shop 2, 66 Springwood Ave, Springwood
ph: 4751 3157

The school clothing pool operates each Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9.00am-9.30am, and Monday afternoons from 3.00pm-3.30pm.

  Girls Boys
Summer
  • Blue check dress
  • School hat/cap
  • Short pale blue socks
  • Black leather school shoes

Or

  • St Thomas Aquinas pale blue blouse and navy blue tailored culottes
  • Grey shorts (regulation school shorts not corduroy or brand names e.g. Billabong etc.)
  • St Thomas Aquinas Short sleeved blue shirt
  • School hat/cap
  • Grey socks
  • Black leather school shoes
Winter
  • Blue Tartan Tunic

or

  • Navy school slacks
  • Pale blue long-sleeve blouse, Peter Pan collar

or

  • Pale blue polo-neck skivvy
  • Navy blue tie for blouse
  • Navy stockings or pale blue socks
  • St Thomas Aquinas fleecy top
  • School hat/cap
  • Black leather school shoes
  • Grey school trousers/shorts (not corduroy or brand-names)
  • St Thomas Aquinas blue shirt (long or short sleeved)
  • Pale blue polo-neck skivvy
  • St Thomas Aquinas fleecy top
  • School hat/cap
  • Grey socks
  • Black leather school shoes
Sports
  • Navy unisex shorts or navy sports skirt
  • Dark sports briefs (to be worn with skirt)
  • Pale blue collared polo shirt with school logo
  • St Thomas Aquinas fleecy top
  • Plain navy track pants - fleecy or ‘taslon’
  • (no displayed brand-names, logos or stripes)
  • School hat/cap
  • Short white socks
  • Sports shoes (predominantly white)
  • Navy unisex shorts
  • Pale blue collared polo shirt with school logo
  • St Thomas Aquinas fleecy top
  • Plain navy track pants - fleecy or ‘taslon’
  • (no displayed brand names, logos or stripes)
  • School hat/cap
  • Short white socks
  • Sports shoes (predominantly white)

Communication

The school newsletter/information update is an important communication vehicle between school and home. It is produced regularly and is distributed via the school website and the St Thomas Aquinas Skoolbag App. This App is available as a free download to your smart phone or tablet from your telcos App provider. Alternatively, visit www.skoolbag.com.au 

A hard copy of the school newsletter/information updates are also available from the Parish Church and extra copies of these are kept in the reception area of the front office. Be sure to read these so as to be informed of school events.

The school has formal written protocols in place to address complaints and grievances. These protocols are in line with the CEO Complaint Handling policy. A copy of this policy is available on the Catholic Education Office website: www.parra.catholic.edu.au.

For further information contact the school.

Weekly school assemblies are an important event in the life of the school and help to promote our Catholic ethos and school values.

Each Monday at 12:30 the school community meets in the Assembly Area. This is always presented as a positive meeting, beginning with a song. Each class presents an assembly item throughout the year. Parents are invited to attend assemblies. Announcements about events and activities are made. Weekly awards are given, and children who are presented with an award by the Principal or Assistant Principal, stand at the front of the assembly to be congratulated by all in attendance. Assemblies are concluded with the National Anthem.

The class teacher should be informed if your child:

  • has to wear glasses
  • has a hearing aid
  • is under medical treatment
  • is going to be absent from school for an extended period of time
  • requires medication
  • has a medical appointment during school hours
  • has to be collected from school early (a green note must be obtained from the school office)
  • has recently experienced any major upsets
  • is to be collected by an authorised person in place of you
  • has a change to the afternoon home travel routine
  • is affected by any relevant legal orders.

Parental Involvement

We welcome the involvement of parents in many aspects of school life. There are a number of ways in which parents may participate and support their child’s education. These include:

  • the annual school fete, Model Railway and Quilt Exhibition
  • as parent tutors in the reading support program
  • co-facilitators in the Creative and Practical Arts program
  • school excursions, sporting events, school library, clothing pool
  • helping with the school Yearbook
  • attending Parent Information Meetings
  • the Mathematics groups
  • performing arts

Prohibited Employment Declaration

The Child Protection (Prohibited Employment) Act 1998 requires any person working in child-related employment to complete a Prohibited Employment Declaration (EM6 form). A volunteer is considered an “employee” under this Act. All volunteers working in schools who may have direct, unsupervised contact with children are required to complete a Prohibited Employment Declaration.

Prohibited Persons are prohibited from applying for, or continuing to work in child-related employment.

The school in accordance with legal requirements does not employ any person in any capacity who is a ‘prohibited person’ or a ‘registered person’ as defined by the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000.

Employment includes, but is not limited to working under a contract of employment, working as a subcontractor, working as a volunteer, undertaking practical training as part of an educational or vocational course.

Volunteer Training, Mandatory Reporting  & Confidentiality

All parents/volunteers who wish to offer assistance in the classrooms, the Parent Tutor program or other school related activity must ensure that they complete the Catholic Education Office’s Child Protection for Volunteers training module. This training is required every two years and is conducted at the school.

Volunteers are required to report any concerns about the safety, welfare or well-being of a child directly to the Principal/Assistant Principal.

All volunteers have an obligation to maintain strict confidentiality regarding any student, and to maintain appropriate volunteer – child boundaries at all times.

Student Management and Care

The school has policies and procedures to promote a safe and supportive environment, including the:

  • Diocesan Anti Bullying Policy for Students (2005)
  • School Anti Bullying Policy and Procedures
  • Student Management and Pastoral Care Policy
  • Beyond Bullying Program
  • School Anti Bullying Program

St Thomas Aquinas is committed to:

  • fostering the Gospel values of justice, respect, dignity and tolerance
  • developing a climate in which individuals are valued and respected.

Within such a climate, our racial and cultural differences are respected and celebrated as gifts from God.

Procedures which promote this intent include the following:

  • our philosophy of pastoral care
  • our approach to student management
  • curriculum which celebrates cultural difference and addresses racism in its content, especially Religious Education
  • policies and procedures which are racially and culturally inclusive
  • in the case of racist behaviour, appropriate action is taken in line with the Parramatta CEO Anti-racism Policy statement

In accordance with Legislative requirements (Education Reform Amendment-School Discipline Act 1995), school policy and Catholic Education Office policy, the school prohibits the administration of corporal punishment. The school also does not sanction the use of this form of discipline by non-school persons, including parents, to enforce discipline.

At the end of each year, the classroom teacher selects one student from their class to receive an award in the following categories: Love One Another Award, Academic Excellence Award and Outstanding Effort Award. Other award categories include Sportsperson of the Year (open to all students). Year 6 students are eligible to receive a number of further awards.

The Home Liaison Minister is a member of staff who gets to know new children and families as they enter the school. All homes are visited at the invitation of families, and there is pastoral support to families as necessary. The Home Liaison Minister’s role provides an important link between school and families.

All students in diocesan schools have the right to attend a school which is free of illegal substances. The school adheres to the Catholic Education Office Policy - Policy, procedures and resources involving students and illegal substances 1999. This policy sets out the protocols and procedures for systemic Catholic schools in the Diocese of Parramatta in responding to the impact of illegal drugs. These include legal responsibilities, protocols to guide fair process, procedures to ensure student safety, and pastoral care.

A copy of this policy can be obtained from the Parramatta Diocese website: http://www.parra.catholic.edu.au

To assist with the transition period for Kindergarten children, each child is assigned a Year 6 buddy. The Year 6 buddies read stories and complete craft activities during Buddy Time and are also a point of contact for the Kinder children in the playground. If a Kinder child is distressed, their buddy can assist them. The buddy system is a positive model in that it allows the Year 6 children to assume responsibility for a younger child, while at the same time giving the Kinder child an older role model.

Each week, two or three Class Awards per class, are presented to individuals at the Assembly. Teachers select children who have shown improvement, consistency or academic success. All children receive at least two awards each year. The children who receive awards are announced at assembly and are presented with the award by the Principal and Assistant Principal, and their names are published in the school newsletter. Teachers are required to keep a record of award recipients.

Love One Another Award Recipients are nominated by any member of the school community who has noticed a student living out the school motto. The students who receive these awards have their name published in the school newsletter.

Student Management practices must ensure that positive relationships are maintained and are based on the Gospel values of justice, forgiveness, dignity of the person, compassion, reconciliation, love, and hope.

At St Thomas Aquinas, we believe that Student Management practices must maintain the dignity of those involved and be restorative in nature. The Restorative Justice approach informs our school methodology in dealing with aberrant student behaviour.

Procedural fairness underpins all issues that deal with the management of students. Procedural fairness includes the following two elements:

  • The right of the person to be heard
  • The right of a person to an impartial decision

(Copies of the school’s Student Management and Pastoral Care Policy can be obtained from the school office or school website).

The SRC is comprised of students from each class in Years 5 & 6. The representatives are nominated and elected by their class peers. The SRC is responsible for raising and lowering the flag, and assisting in distributing awards. The SRC works with the Assistant Principal in presenting social skills, values education, and Works of Peace and Justice at school assemblies. The SRC is also responsible for meeting and greeting official visitors to our school. Their opinions are sought about certain issues, and initiatives by the SRC are encouraged. At times, members of the SRC are called upon to represent the school at other venues or events.

School Prayers

Heavenly Father,

We, at St Thomas Aquinas Parish, seek to be a Catholic Eucharistic community
and strive to live the Gospel of Christ through our active discipleship within the Church.

We seek to offer companionship, outreach and love to one another and the wider community.

Help us to live in unity with one another in the spirit of Justice, Truth and Service.

We need the grace your Spirit brings through the Sacraments, through the Word, and through prayer
to help us always, and we ask this through Christ our Lord.

AMEN.

All staff gather each Thursday morning at 8.30am for staff prayer. Staff prayer concludes at 9.00am.

Learning & Teaching

In planning programs, we take into account the wide and varied needs of students in our school. Our school curriculum is grouped into broad subject areas called key learning areas (KLAs). We follow the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) syllabus documents, which outline what is to be covered in each Stage.

In addition, we follow the Diocesan Syllabus Sharing Our Story for the teaching of Religious Education.

Early Stage 1 – Kindergarten
Stage 1 – Years 1 & 2
Stage 2 – Years 3 & 4
Stage 3 – Years 5 & 6

Lessons are currently being taught to all grades from Kindergarten to Year 6, by a qualified Italian teacher. We follow the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Italian syllabus. The cost of Italian tuition is funded by a levy included in the school fees.

The school offers a range of co-curricula experiences for children. These include: chess, debating, public speaking, musical dance and drama productions, choir, music club.

For further information see Co-curricular Programs.

Students take part in excursions associated with a topic of work being studied. Senior classes also participate in extended excursions which require overnight accommodation, such as, Year 6 Camp.

The students also take part in incursions. These take place at school and also incur a cost normally funded by the excursion levy, which is included in the school fees e.g. Musica Viva.

Teachers employ a variety of techniques and strategies to monitor children’s development of skills and knowledge, such as observations and written assessments and national assessments, such as the NAPLAN test.

Half Yearly and Yearly Student Reports
Families will receive a written school report at the end of Term 2 and again at the end of Term 4. These standards-based reports use the mandated Plain English E to A scale for each key learning area. Student achievement is assessed against specific learning outcomes and assessment standards. These outcomes are taken from the syllabuses set by the NSW Education Standards Authority for each key learning area. Kindergarten reports use descriptors to report student achievement.

The Term 4 report will be sent home at least 7 days before the end of school.

Interviews with parents are held formally in February (Meet The Teacher) and in June (Family Learning Conference).

  • Meet-the-Teacher Interviews
    These interviews provide a valuable opportunity for parents to share valuable information and insights about their child, with the teacher. Prior to this meeting a student questionnaire is sent home for parents to complete. This questionnaire is useful in focussing on the individual student’s strengths, challenges and other relevant issues pertaining to the child.

  • Family Learning Conferences (FLCs)
    The FLCs provide a meeting for teachers, parents and students to reflect on, and celebrate the growth that has taken place over the first two school terms, as well as looking towards what needs to be achieved in the second half of the year.

These meetings provide an important opportunity for families and teachers to discuss each child’s individual progress over the first half of the year and view work samples.

The focus is on identifying the areas of strength and areas of development for each child, goal-setting for the next half of the year, and planning how this will be achieved.

Parents may request an interview with their child’s class teacher at any stage. We ask that parents who wish to speak to their child’s teacher make an appointment time to do so. Please contact the school office to negotiate a mutually convenient time. Often a telephone interview may suffice. If possible, please indicate to the office staff the topic for discussion. This allows teachers to collect relevant information (if needed) to assist with the interview.

There are opportunities for children to be involved in a variety of musical experiences e.g. School Ensemble & Choir, Christmas Pageant, Talent Shows, Small Group Music Tuition (through the Springwood School of Music).

Homework helps to develop the habits of study and planning. It also provides an opportunity to consolidate what children have learnt at school. Homework is reviewed at school soon after completion, and used often in the teaching cycle. 

If for any reason, students are unable to complete homework, parents are requested to inform the class teacher via a note.

  • Kindergarten
    Children in this grade are normally provided with home readers to supplement their home literature. On occasions they are set simple completion tasks.


  • Year 1 – 6
    Children in these grades are set age-appropriate homework, to be completed on a weekly basis. Specific grade arrangements and homework expectations are communicated to parents through the Learning and Organisational Overviews.

There are ample opportunities for children to represent the school at all levels of competition and in a variety of sports.

When teachers are absent due to illness, in-service or family matters, qualified relief staff are employed to teach children. Where possible, it is aimed to provide a degree of continuity for the class. The relief teacher will normally follow the program of the class teacher. All teachers, including relief teachers, undergo Child Protection screening before employment by the Diocese.

Three times a year (apart from the first day of every school year) the staff attends a Development Day without the students. These days are important for the staff to plan more efficiently for your child’s education.

These are sent home at the beginning of Term 1 and Term 3. They provide parents/carers with information regarding the topics of work being covered in each subject area, as well other valuable classroom organisation such as sports days, library days, homework arrangements, and excursions.

Staff Meetings are held each Tuesday afternoon commencing at 3:35pm, and on Wednesday mornings from 8:30am-9:00am.