Dear Parent / Carer
Yesterday the Government held their latest Cobra meeting and the Prime Minister and key scientific advisers reported back to the nation the action the Government is going to take at this stage to combat the COVID-19 emergency. Under the current government guidance schools will remain open, but this is a fluid situation and a change in direction may occur at fairly short notice. There is much we cannot directly control or influence. However, we aim to continue to provide our students with a school day that is as normal as possible.
A number of measures have been introduced to enhance the school hygiene precautions:
- All guests arriving at school have to sanitise their hands before coming into the main building.
- Students have been made aware of the need to wash their hands regularly or use hand sanitiser.
- Additional hand sanitiser dispensers have been placed in key areas around the school.
- Additional hours have been allocated to the Site team and we have cleaners on site throughout the day.
- Additional checks are being carried out on the toilet facilities. If there is an issue with the toilets / washing facilities then students need to tell staff at Reception.
We would ask that where possible you send your child in to school with small bottles of hand sanitiser, but understand that this may not be possible due to supply and demand.
In a school with just under 1,200 students there are going to be instances where students feel unwell. The NHS advice is that:
- If your child either has a high temperature (37.8 degrees Celsius or above) or a new, continuous cough then you should keep them at home for seven days;
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital;
- You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
This absence will be authorised. If your child displays these symptoms at school then they will be isolated from the rest of the student body and you will be contacted. Please use the NHS website to reassure yourself about how best to support your child if unwell: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
At The Priory School we have 167 employees of which 76 are teachers. At this time of year we would normally have one or two members of staff off each day with seasonal illness. However, the expectation is that more colleagues will be off work in the next few weeks because:
- The COVID-19 emergency and government have advised staying at home for seven days if you have coronavirus symptoms; and
- Colleagues with young families may have to take time off work to look after their children if sent home from nurseries and primary schools.
The school has already contracted two additional supply teachers for the next four weeks to provide additional cover for staff absences.
When the number of teaching staff absent hits a certain point then the school will need to review how the school day is structured. The aim would be to protect the teaching of the Year 11 and Year 13 examination classes. Re-structuring the school day could mean:
- Classes being jointly taught;
- Year groups being taken off timetable for set periods and provided with alternative learning and activities; and/or
- Partial closure of the school for specific year groups.
One of the areas that the school cannot directly control is what the examination boards are going to do. The official statement from Ofqual is:
We recognise that students, parents, schools and colleges will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on the 2020 summer exam series. Our advice at this time is to continue to prepare for exams and other assessments as normal. We continue to work closely with exam boards, other regulators and the Department for Education and we have met to plan for a range of scenarios, as the public would expect. Our overriding priorities are fairness to students this summer and keeping disruption to a minimum. It is still many weeks until exams start and we will issue updated advice if necessary, giving schools and colleges as much notice as possible.
The school has a varied programme of extracurricular activities planned for the next four weeks. All of these activities are currently under review. Whenever an extra-curricular activity is cancelled you will be informed by the school.
The two planned school trips abroad have been cancelled and a separate letter has been sent out to the relevant parents/carers.
School closure is a possibility and as such we have been preparing for how best to support students in their learning. If the time comes to close the school you will receive a more detailed letter explaining exactly how we are going to support your child when off school. Currently we are:
- Ensuring that all students know their password for online resources;
- Ensuring that all teachers are up to speed in setting work through Google Classroom;
- Ensuring that each Department is planning to deliver online learning;
- Identifying key groups of students who will need more bespoke support; and
- Identifying mechanisms for supporting student wellbeing concerns.
I am fully aware that a school closure will create a variety of challenges for parents/carers. In the knowledge that a closure is possible can I suggest that you look at planning how you will deal with this disruption as a family.
The COVID-19 emergency has and will continue to pose varying degrees of challenges for the whole population of the UK. If we as a school community collaborate and are pragmatic about what we can do then this will lay the foundations for providing your children with a continued education over the next four weeks.