Monday 16th March, 2020
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update
To ensure you are kept fully up to date with the latest information concerning Coronavirus, we are writing to inform you of the most recent advice and to outline our emerging planning. This is particularly in light of yesterday’s government announcement (by Public Health England) that the country has moved from the ‘Contain Phase’ to the ‘Delay Phase’.
We have received a small number of queries from parents questioning whether they should be sending their child to school. As a school we can only refer parents to the government advice, which states that if students are well and have no symptoms they should come to school.
Only kept your child off school (and self-isolate for 7 days) if they display the following symptoms:
- a new, persistent cough
- a high temperature of 37.8C/100F or above,
- shortness of breath
If a family member has been advised to self-isolated, current government advice appears to be: if a child has no symptoms, then they should attend school. If parents are concerned about making such decisions, we would urge them to contact their medical provider (in most cases this will be the GP) for further advice. As you can appreciate, the school is not in a position to give any direct medical advice to parents. Instead, we must ask that you act responsibly when taking decisions regarding attendance and adhere to medical advice provided. We must also stress that, should you be advised to self-isolate, you must still contact the school office and follow normal sickness/absence reporting procedures. If your child’s condition deteriorates whilst absent from school and you are given any additional medical advice, you must immediately report this the school office.
We appreciate that parents may be additionally concerned that if they, or their child, has an underlying health issue then they should not attend school. However, if this is the case, we urge parents to contact their healthcare provider for advice and let us know what they think is the appropriate response.
Finally, please remember that children are at very low risk of contracting the virus and generally have minor symptoms if they do. However, this is not the case for the of elderly and it is important those over 70 years old should take additional precautions. Please do not take your child to see elderly relatives, as this puts them at risk.
Action We Are Taking
It is very difficult to predict what might happen over the coming days and weeks, but we have been contingency planning for some time in case of a partial or full school closure. We endeavour to ensure the continuity of your child’s education and appreciate your support and understanding.
Through class discussions and assemblies, we are continuing to provide our children with sensible advice and guidance to reassure them and minimise their concerns. This is delivered at an age-appropriate level and aims to reduce rumours and myths around the subject.
We have instituted a regime of regular handwashing throughout the school day. Our site team are ensuring that toilets and classrooms have a plentiful supply of soap and we have increased our cleaning procedures since the outbreak commenced.
We are aware that some parents/carers have provided older pupils with hand sanitiser to use at school. Whilst we understand why you have chosen to do this, and support this measure, handwashing with soap and water (for at least 20 sec) is still the most effective method of killing the virus.
Our site manager is working tirelessly with our cleaning staff to ensure that particular attention is paid to key areas to reduce the risk of infection. Our cleaners have been provided with additional, medically approved cleaning solutions, which they are regularly applying to surfaces including door handles and high contact areas.
As a precaution, we have taken the decision to stop all future educational trips and visits that involve the use of public transport and/or are to venues shared with the wider public. This include public school events such as: assemblies, parents’ evenings and other non-vital gathering to reduce public contact and interaction.
The government is planning for a range of future scenarios, one of which includes the possibility of school closures. To date, their decision is to keep schools open. However, should this change, the information below sets out some of our emerging planning and work we are completing to prepare for any possibility.
As you will be aware, schools in other countries are being closed. Should this happen in the UK, please note the following:
Day to Day Communication
For current parent information, please check the ‘News Section or Coronavirus Section’ on our school website (https://www.standrewandstfrancis.org/), Twitter feed (@SASFschool) or call the school office to hear a recorded message. This information will be regularly updated, so please check for changes.
If the school should close, it is vital that pupils continue to learn at home. Although there is no substitute for children being in a classroom with their teachers and support staff, they must still continue to consolidate their learning at home.
We are currently planning our ‘continued learning’ provision in the eventuality of an enforced closure. We will produce ‘Home Learning Packs’, which will be supplemented by the use of electronic programs such as ‘Mathletics’.
Any ‘remote learning’ will require the use of a laptop or PC. We recognise that for many, access will be through their mobile phone or tablet. Please can parents/carers inform their child’s class teacher if your child would not have regular access to the technology required as soon as possible. We will do our absolute best to support families to overcome such barriers and will be setting the majority of work to be completed on paper.
In the event of an extended school closure, we would ask parents and carers to provide conditions at home that are conducive with high quality learning. Daily timetables will be provided to children and they will be available via our website.
We are still awaiting more direction from the DfE and OFQual and have nothing to report as yet. As we hear more from them, we will update you.
We may be in the situation, for some period of time, that the school will be open but with a higher than normal number of staff absent. Whilst the government has announced that they are intending to ‘relax’ the law regarding maximum class size, in reality this is impractical for us to carryout as rooms have a maximum capacity and for certain year groups there are required adult:pupil ratios.
If the level of staff absence increases, we will do everything we can to remain open. However, this will impact our normal day-to day practice: class sizes may increase or be forced to split into other year groups. Ultimately, we must reserve the right to implement a partial, or even whole school, closure if staffing levels are insufficient to ensure supervision and the health & safety of pupils. This would be an absolute last resort and a decision that will not be taken lightly.
Further Advice for Parents and Carers
Please see the links below for any further information.
Please be aware that your child may well become more concerned and anxious about Coronavirus following any government announcement and (the national and international) media coverage. We all have a role in managing this. You know your child best, but together we must:
- do our best to ensure we protect our children’s mental and emotional well-being. Fear of this may well be even more infectious (and damaging) to them
- do our upmost to follow the advice from the Government and Public Health England/NHS 111 or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
- not hide information from our children but stick to known facts, answering their questions in an age-appropriate manner, ensuring we do not alarm them.
Finally, in this clearly difficult and unprecedented time, please rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to react to and pre-empt situations as they arise. We ask for your continued support as we take decisions to protect the health and welfare of our school and wider community.
Mr Troy Sharpe