Update for parents on the situation in school today – Wed 18th March
Thank you to all parents and friends of the school for your support during these difficult and challenging times. We have told them but could you pass on our thanks to students who have been able to attend as they have shown a terrific attitude in continuing with school life as normally as possible and are showing impressive resilience. This has really helped us as staff try to deliver school days that are as normal as possible and we are very grateful for our students and families for their support.
Key staff in school have collated updates from some commonly asked questions/enquiries that are coming in by email and with other pressures on staff time at the moment it is helpful to do a general reply rather than staff being emailed individually which are contained in this update.
Today both student and staff attendance was at 80%. The lower than normal attendance is entirely due to students and staff correctly following guidance to self-isolate if:
- They or a member of their household has developed a new persistent cough or high temperature
- They have been advised to self-isolate because they are part of the group identified as having a higher level of vulnerability to Coronavirus.
With regards to self-isolation please follow the up to date government advice which is also available on the Coranavirus section of our website. The school will not give advice on self-isolation. You just need to inform us that your child is self-isolating , we do not require further information beyond that. The government has also confirmed that we are in the delay phase and not containment and the guidance has now changed as a result of that. We need to self-isolate if someone in our house or ourselves have symptoms or if we are on the Governments Vulnerable list
We have been able to run according to the normal timetable, though in some cases we have had to collapse classes where there are fewer students, in order to free up teachers to cover for absent colleagues. This is something that we expect to do over the coming days.
As noted in Mr Davies’s blog yesterday, our priorities for teachers and other staff who work directly with students are:
- Running lessons and supervising students – covering absent colleagues and collapsing classes to enable this where needed
- Adjusting planning and adapting teaching resources so that they can be used both by students in school and out of school. With current disruption and the possibility of future closure, it is not possible to replicate the normal pattern lessons and homework. Instead we are adapting plans and resources so that they best support learning which will be done remotely by some students and will be different for those in school as we have to cover absent staff.
To help support that can I respectfully ask that you consider if any contact you make with school via email or phone is essential or if some enquiries can be kept on hold? We of course need to know about any issues affecting the safety and well-being of your child and please continue to inform us of any issues around this. We are managing to run the school as normally as possible but do have higher than usual absence amongst staff and are trying to prioritise as listed above how those staff who are here can help and support our students in their learning and well-being.
On a similar point, we do acknowledge how brilliant the students have been but we are having to deal with some false rumours being spread about positive tests and the like. We have reminded students that only those who need hospitalisation will actually be tested and thankfully at the moment we have no students or staff that have required this. Please help to support us with this – children are understandably worried and anxious and unsubstantiated rumours are adding to anxiety in our community.
Further to this it is crucial that as parents we encourage our children to take a break from continually checking their phones and devices for updates and information. This is not helpful to their mental health at this current time. Also much of what is being put on social media sites is unreliable and in some cases false. Understandably children want to be informed and have a right to be, but please try to direct them to factual sites and sources and encourage them to discuss any concerns they have directly with you. Also perhaps arrange to watch the news together where these discussions can also be facilitated.
The senior team are meeting at the end of each school day to review plans for the following day, taking into account the levels of staff and student absence. We aim to continue to run as we are for as long as possible.
Should staffing levels fall to a level where we cannot safely continue as we are we, we will have to use measures such as late starts, or closure to some groups of students. If we have to make such a decision, we will communicate this in the same way we do for adverse weather, i.e. through short text and email alerts and more detailed information on the website.
Students at home but well enough to work
We are getting some requests in from parents for work to be set for students who are at home but well enough to work. As the numbers increase, we will not respond individually to these requests, but will shortly have some guidance for all students. When students log into the website remotely, they will be able to select the advice for their year group and see where they will find instructions and resources for the work they should be doing. This work will normally accessed through Show My Homework and through the ‘G Drive’ which students’ access through their login to the website.
This work will be updated over time by teachers to match what students are doing in school and this will be the main route for students to access work if the school is closed at any point.
We are working in this way both to keep things as clear and simple for students and to enable us to maintain good access to learning during a time of disruption to staffing.
As soon as this guidance is up and running, we will post an update on the website for you as parents and we will email parents to highlight that the guidance is there.
Handwashing remains the most important thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus. As parents, we have the key responsibility in reminding our children about this and checking that they are washing their hands before leaving home, when arriving back at home and around meal times. We are supporting you in this at school through
more regular top up of soap in student toilet facilities and the addition of some extra hand sanitiser stations. We are reminding students about regular hand washing at key points in the day, though it is not possible for us to supervise all students washing their hands through the day.
Thank you again, can I take the opportunity to wish God’s blessing on you all and the thoughts and prayers of all our staff are with our young people and their families at this very difficult and challenging time. Together we will support each other in coming through this.
Mr Scriven – Designated Safeguarding Lead
Dear Parents/ Carers
Please be assured that we are following all the up to date advice from both Public Health England and the Department of Education with regards to the Coronavirus outbreak in several countries.
This includes the poster advice attached with this message that we are sharing with all staff, students and parents regarding advice and precautions. We are making sure all existing hand sanitisers are available and stocked and are sourcing further supplies to distribute as necessary.
Please note at the end of this page, some guidance for supporting the mental health of young people who are feeling anxious at the news about coronavirus (COVID-19)
Updated advice and guidance
Guidance on self-isolating
- Staff, and students should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
- If staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
The updated guidance can be found here:
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
Recording school pupil absences
Where a pupil is in self-isolation, in accordance with latest information and advice from Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, the pupil will be recorded as unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances in the attendance register.
If this is the case, please notify school as you would normally for an absence, letting us know that your child is in self-isolation. There is no need for you to worry about their absence being unauthorised.
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.
Watch this short NHS film for guidance:
Department for Education Helpline
The Department for Education has launched a Coronavirus helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
- Phone: 0800 046 8687
- Email: DfE.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Where to find the latest information
Updates on COVID-19:
Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:
Mental Health Advice
We are sharing the advice below with students who are feeling anxious about the current news on coronavirus (COVID-19). You may find the information in the website helpful when talking to your child or children. The website is designed for young people, so you can also encourage them to look at it for themselves. It covers the following advice:
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling
- Arm yourself with the facts
- Know what you can do
- Don’t overexpose yourself to the news
- Find things that help you feel calm
- Dealing with self-isolation