Coronavirus Update 18/3/2020
Tonight (Wednesday 18th March) the Secretary of State announced that schools across the UK will close from Friday 20th March until further notice. Speaking in the House of Commons, Gavin Williamson also confirmed that exams and assessments would not be held this academic year.
He told MPs: "After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice…This will be for all children, except for those of key workers and children who are most vulnerable.”
Examples of these workers may include NHS staff, police, delivery drivers, teachers and other school staff who need to be able to go to work. The list of jobs that constitute “key workers” will be published tomorrow. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans. If your profession is likely to be on the 'key worker' list please reply to this email so I can gather an idea of numbers.
The statement said that the government will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children who are eligible for free school meals, and will launch a national voucher system as soon as possible. Where possible, the government are encouraging settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.
The government is asking nurseries, schools and colleges to be at the forefront of the national response to this crisis. Schools will look very different in these circumstances to the normal state of affairs.
Schools and Local Authorities heard this announcement this evening at the same time as the rest of the world. We currently have no further information so we will start thinking creatively and strategically tonight and wait for more detailed official information tomorrow.
The government announcement was far from straightforward. We had been anticipating the need to provide childcare for key health and social care staff, but the announcement went far wider than this. We have been carefully reading the situation regarding Coronavirus and our three schools were well prepared in sending out home learning packs today for 10-12 weeks, based on Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, saying last week that school closures would have to go on for 13 to 16 weeks or longer to have an impact. We will get packs out to families who are already self-isolating. I would like to pay tribute to the fantastic job our high quality staff have done in producing these packs in addition to a full teaching commitment and the national picture playing on everyone’s minds.
For the last two days of the term/year(?) we continue as usual with our hand washing routine throughout the day. The guidelines in place on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak remain the same:
The symptoms are:
The full ‘stay at home’ guidance for households with these symptoms can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance.
I understand that many of you will have questions about the weeks ahead; please be assured that we are passing all the information we have along to you and there will be plenty more to come in the next few days. As I’m sure you can imagine, every member of the school staff will be working tirelessly to ensure that the next two days are as smooth as possible. To assist us with this, please try to avoid phoning the school unless absolutely necessary tomorrow and Friday.
We would like to achieve something positive on the last Friday itself as our last normal day of operations. To that end, we would like children to donate an item of tinned or packet food which can be given to the Cotswold Community Awareness charity and local church foodbanks, who we have been working with in designing a co-ordinated support package for families in response to food poverty. We know everyone is anxious about the current climate, but we would like to try and do something as a school community to help people who need it most.
Coronavirus Update 17/3/2020
As you will be aware, the situation with regards to COVID-19 is changing almost on a daily basis. I appreciate that this is a concern to many people and I want to assure you that everything is being done across our schools to ensure we are well-placed for whatever happens.
Following the Prime Minister’s press conference on Monday evening (16th March), there are updated guidelines in place on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
The symptoms are:
The full ‘stay at home’ guidance for households with these symptoms can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
Where a child is in isolation, in accordance with latest information and advice from Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, they will be recorded as ‘Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances’ in the attendance register (code Y). This is an authorised absence and will not affect your child’s overall attendance figure.
Prior to a school closure due to Cornonavirus, parents will receive home learning sign in sheets for Class Seesaw so that your children can have their own Class app. If your child has their own device or access to a family device, please install Seesaw Class app and use the code provided. Class teachers will keep in touch with your children via Class Seesaw should a full closure be necessary. Please note that this is a separate app to your Parent Seesaw. Siblings will be able to log in and out on the same device.
Whilst all the schools in the Stour Federation Partnership remain open as normal at present, we have been finalising our planning for what we will put in place if we do need to close. Tomorrow (Wednesday 18th March) we will send a detailed plan for home learning, a pack of paper-based activities and will set online home learning when the need arises. In the meantime, please have a go at setting up your new Seesaw Class app.
You can also login to Seesaw using a web browser - https://app.seesaw.me/#/login.
If/when we do close, the worst thing we could do is remotely try and teach new content with live remote lessons. It is a terrible idea that will end in nothing but wasted time for every single person involved — from parents to teachers to children. The work we will be sending home will be purposeful practice and consolidation of concepts and knowledge we’ve already taught.
We continue with our measures of social distancing, avoiding gatherings (big or small) and reducing social contact.
In line with the updated guidance from the government on social distancing, stopping unnecessary travel, avoiding gatherings and avoiding social contact, I have decided Year 5 will not be going to Manor Adventure next week. I will update parents regarding deferrals/refunds and a rescheduled date in due course.
Similarly, Acorns children will not be swimming until further notice.
The safety and well being of children and staff remains our highest priority and we continue to follow all relevant guidance and direction from government. We talk a great deal about the importance of a strong partnership between schools and parents; at unprecedented times like these, this really comes to the fore. Thank you for your support and assistance in the days and weeks ahead.
Coronavirus Update 16/3/2020
THIS UPDATE WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE PRIME MINISTER'S PRESS CONFERENCE THIS EVENING. I WILL UPDATE PARENTS FURTHER IN DUE COURSE.
In Sunday’s communication to parents and carers, I listed a number of cancelled and postponed events in order to promote social distancing (a term applied to certain actions that are taken to slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease, including limiting large groups of people coming together) as recommended by the World Health Organisation:
Breakfast Club continues as usual. Staff-led school clubs will be finished by Friday 20th March.
Here’s a further update:
Adult visitors to school includes parents, e.g. parent readers. We will continue with awards in assembly on Fridays as we want to recognise children’s effort and achievement, but unfortunately parents will not be able to attend until further notice.
Fresh government guidance today states that children who develop a new, continuous cough (this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly) or fever (high temperature of 37.8+ or you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) at school should be sent home with suspected coronavirus. Any child or staff member who has these symptoms should remain at home for 7 days to avoid infecting others.
NHS advice for staying at home: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
Please can I remind all families to ensure that children wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water BEFORE they come to school. Children will be directed to wash their hands again as soon as they come into school. Children will wash their hands before leaving school every day and I would advise children wash their hands once more when they get home.
As it stands, the Manor Adventure trip is going ahead. Manor Adventure will not defer the trip as there are currently no restrictions on travel. Our insurers have stated that if we cancel the trip our claim to refund parents would be declined as this would be deemed ‘disinclination to travel’. Obviously in the coming days if Central Government or indeed the Department for Education provide further advice to schools not to travel within the UK or to go on school trips the stance of both organisations would change.
The current advice we have received regarding swimming lessons is that we should proceed as normal. Shipston Leisure Centre has increased the frequency of their cleaning, making sure they are cleaning all high contact areas every two hours. My research has found a statement from ‘The Pool Water Treatment and Advisory Group’ after consulting with Public Health England, stating "We have checked with our national leads who confirm that coronavirus would be inactivated at the levels of chlorine used in swimming pools…Public Health opinion is that it is generally safe to go swimming at this time. Water and the chlorine within swimming pools will help to kill the virus…However, visitors to swimming pools are reminded to shower before using the pool, to shower on leaving the pool and to follow the necessary hygiene precautions when visiting public places to help reduce the risk of infection.” Mrs. Young and I will make a decision later this week about whether we continue with swimming lessons.
We continue to remain open until we are told otherwise by Public Health England or are forced to close due to insufficient staffing. Attendance in school was high today.
Coronavirus Update 15/3/2020
Following my letter on Friday afternoon, our school WILL continue to stay open until advised otherwise by Public Health England or we are forced to close due to insufficient staff being available as they are self-isolating.
As the UK has moved from the "contain" to the "delay" phase in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, we are looking at ways in which we can delay the spread of the illness in school. Please can I ask all families to ensure that children wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water BEFORE they come to school. From Monday 16th March our morning routine will be slightly altered - instead of the doors just opening for children to file in as they arrive, the children will line up and be sent in class by class to wash their hands again. Children will wash their hands before leaving school every day and I would advise children wash their hands once more when they get home.
There are other measures that I have discussed and agreed with my leadership team that are in line with our risk assessment to remain open and 'prevent and manage sickness, including outbreaks': -
Further information will follow regarding PTA events and trips. As of Friday 13th March, the advice was for swimming lessons to continue. Staff-led school clubs will be finished by Friday 20th March.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding as to why we are having to do this given the circumstances are unprecedented and extremely serious.