18th March 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am writing to update you on our plans to tackle the issues presented by the current Coronavirus outbreak. You will be aware that this is a fast moving situation and advice is changing almost on a daily basis. At this stage, the most important thing students and families can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water.
See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for the most up-to-date guidance from the NHS. This has been updated since the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday evening. All reports suggest that the Coronavirus will be with us for several months. The government’s plan is now to delay the spread of the virus. By doing this the hope and intention is to spread any cases over a longer period so that the peak number of cases does not breach the ability of the National Health Service to cope with the most severe cases. To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the Department for Health and Social Care has instructed anyone who shows certain symptoms, or who shares a household with someone who has symptoms, to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.
The symptoms are either:
· A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above) or
· A new, continuous dry cough
The current advice is you do not need to call NHS 111 to stay at home. If your symptoms worsen during your stay at home period or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999. We are unable to offer individual advice to parents on whether their child should self-isolate. Please follow the link above to the NHS and read their guidance so that you can make the best decision for all.
Parents and carers must remember that we are a very diverse community, and we have several students and staff who are in a high risk category due to underlying health conditions. It is imperative that we abide by the guidance from the government regarding self-isolation to keep everyone safe.
Whilst the government is encouraging home working for those who can around the country, this does not work for a school setting. The reality is that in the coming weeks and months, staff as well as students will get the Coronavirus or get symptoms that mean they will need to self-isolate and be off school. With the new 14 day isolation period now in place, we can very quickly get to a position where we have insufficient staff to run the school safely and effectively. Whilst some children may be off school, we will still have the same number of classes running. We cannot predict which classes and years will be hit on a daily and weekly basis. Wherever possible, should we need to, we will combine classes of different year groups and teach them effectively, but we will make every effort to stay open.
If we get to a position where we have insufficient staff in school we may have to consider a partial or full school closure. We are keen to remain open as per current government advice but we must alert parents and carers to this as a possibility now.
We are of course continuing with our stringent hygiene measures.
We are preparing packs of learning activities for the children to have if we are instructed to close.
School closures are a very rare thing but we are facing an unprecedented challenge with the Coronavirus. Whilst current evidence suggests that young people are generally not too adversely affected by the symptoms, we are conscious that older members of our community and those with underlying health conditions are at much greater risk. It is vital that we all do what we can to mitigate the effect of this virus in the coming weeks and potentially months, and prepare for the full range of possible actions we may be forced to take to cope.
As I write to you, the children are getting on with their normal day in school; most are blissfully unaware of the potential ramifications of the Coronavirus outbreak and this is probably for the best. For children who are worried and asking questions, we are reassuring them by saying that they should try not to worry because the adults are doing everything possible to keep them and their families safe. Whilst children need to know the importance of the hygiene measures we are asking them to take, it is equally important to try and maintain for them, some sense of normality at this difficult time.
Thank you, as always, for your support