16th March 2020
In trying to keep you up to date with developments in school relating to Coronavirus, we have been provided with an update from Hertfordshire County Council to share with you all and have added in some additional information specific to our school.
You have probably seen the news that, at the end of last week, the government announced some new measures to deal with COVID-19 and also a change to its overall response, moving from the ‘contain’ to the ‘delay’ phase of its plan. As before, the advice remains that effective hand hygiene and using a tissue when coughing or sneezing are some of the most effective ways in which we can help reduce the spread of the virus. The school is continuing to do all that it can to minimise the spread with good hygiene and is following all the advice from Public Health and Herts County Council. As previously, if you wish to provide your child with hand sanitiser or hand cream due to their hands becoming sore, you can do as long as they do not share it with their friends at school.
Self-isolation and staying at home
As you know the government has widened their advice on who should self-isolate to include those that have coronavirus like symptoms - a new or continuous cough or a high temperature (above 37.8 degrees), however mild - should stay at home for at least 7 days to protect others and help slow the spread of the disease. All our staff will be expected to follow this advice, and we ask you to ensure that your children do so too. If your children are absent from school because they are ill with these (or any other) symptoms, please continue to call the school every day on 01442 406000. This number has a 24 hour answerphone so please leave a message at any time. Absence of this nature will of course be authorised.
In certain circumstances you may be advised by medical professionals to keep your child at home even if they are not unwell. If this is the case, please let us know and we will support your decision. I understand that parents are concerned about the risk of their children catching Coronavirus and that some may wish to keep children at home even though they have not had any medical advice to do so. However, we cannot agree to a child’s absence for that reason alone. All children who are well enough to come to school are expected to continue attending as normal unless advised otherwise by Public Health England.
As stated, our staff are following this same guidance and so it is likely that there are times when the staff who are usually with your child are absent from school. We will do all we can to continue the high quality provision for the children at Galley Hill during this time but appreciate your patience if your child’s usual class teacher or TA is away from school.
School trips and events
There has been updated guidance on school trips and the government has advised that planned school trips outside the UK should not go ahead. The government advice is that school trips within the UK can at present go ahead safely. As the COVID-19 situation in the UK is changing rapidly we have reviewed the risk for each trip and have decided as a school to postpone those to busy areas where a large number of people will pass through. As such the Year 4 trip to the National Gallery, the Year 5 trip to the London Eye and Science Museum and the Year 3 trip to the North London Mosque have all been postponed. Unfortunately the Year 2 trip to the Indian restaurant has also been cancelled due to the provider not having enough staff to accommodate us. The Year 1 trip to College Lake will go ahead as planned.
We have also heard today that the Dacorum School Sports Network have decided to postpone all of their planned events up until the Easter holidays. This includes the Dance Festival which children from Year 2 were due to attend and the netball and football tournaments that selected children from Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 were attending.
Currently it is our intention for other planned school events to take place. These include Year 1 to 6 Open Classrooms on Tuesday 17th March, Reception Writing Open Morning on Wednesday 18th March and Team Amethyst Sharing Assembly on Monday 23rd March (which will be presented to a limited audience). However, we ask any parents intending to attend these events to use the same precautions as staff and children and stay away from the school if they are showing even minor symptoms of the virus. We also expect you to wash your hands on arrival at the school.
The possibility of school closure
Some parents have asked whether we could choose to close the school now. If we are ordered to close the school by Public Health England, because there is a risk to children/students and staff we will do. If the government make a decision to close all schools we will do so, otherwise our intention is to stay open and operate as normal. The Government has made it clear it expects schools to remain open unless public health advice has been given to close. This is based on the clear advice from the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallence, on how best to manage this epidemic. We are sure that you will be supportive of this.
We are however preparing in case the school closes and we are looking at ways for managing a remote curriculum. You have already received your child’s Purple Mash login and an exercise book and pen or pencil. These need to be stored somewhere safely. Teachers will be posting learning tasks to the school website each day that your children should complete at home. We will be setting up class email addresses so that you or your child can email staff from their class with responses to learning tasks or queries about the tasks set if necessary. Further details will be provided in the event of prolonged school closure being announced. We recognise that if closure is necessary this will have significant implications for many of our families with issues ranging from the loss of free school meals to problems for families finding suitable childcare.
Obviously, we will continue to provide updates as the situation continues to develop and would ask that you inform the school of any contact your family may have had with a person with symptoms or who has tested positive as soon as possible.
We fully appreciate that these are stressful and uncertain times for everyone and would like to thank you for your continued support.
Mrs E. Birch