As of Wednesday 18th March 2020, the school will close until after the Easter break. This is due to the high number of staff now self-isolating as a result of having symptoms or falling into one of the ‘high risk’ categories. These are unprecedented times and we are following the national guidance from the government in trying to remain open but at the same time following the national guidance regarding 14 day self-isolation periods for those who display symptoms and those in ‘high risk’ groups. We are doing all we can to support the pupils and staff at our school in order to keep them safe. We have not taken this decision lightly and we are aware that these measures will cause significant disruption to families and people’s livelihoods but the advice is clear and is there to save lives. In times of difficulty it is important communities come together to support each other.
There are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 but we have acted in line with government guidance where staff and students have presented symptoms.
We will regularly update you on the situation.
All upcoming trips and events have been cancelled.
Please continue to follow government guidelines in relation to self-isolation, in order to reduce the impact on the community.
As of 17 March, the advice to schools from the Local Authority's Director of People, is as follows:
All education establishments should remain open unless they receive specific advice to close from Public Health England.
Public Health advice is that people should self-isolate for 14 days if living with other people (or 7 days if living alone) if they have symptoms of a new, continuous cough or a fever/high temperature.
13 March 2020
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) INFORMATION AND UPDATE No. 2
The following information has been taken from the daily email update for schools from the DfE (Department of Education). In making decisions we will always be guided by advice from Public Health England. Current advice: No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
Information about the virus
The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it is unlikely that they have been infected.
How coronavirus is spread?
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (termed respiratory secretions) containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission.
There are 2 routes by which people could become infected:
- secretions can be directly transferred into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or could be inhaled into the lungs
- it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a door knob or shaking hands then touching own face).
There is currently no good evidence that people who do not have symptoms are infectious to others.
What are the symptoms?
Based on current evidence, the main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a high temperature and, in severe cases, shortness of breath. But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness, as the symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How do I avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
How can parents help?
- Keep us informed of any contact you or your family have had with anyone from Category 1 areas (see Gov.uk website).
- Keep us fully informed of any family illness that you suspect is related to the virus (see ‘contacts’ below).
- Maintain your child's focus on hygiene. As you know, pupils already have access to hand sanitiser in their classrooms, as well as soap and water in class and cloakrooms/toilets. All staff have been provided with hand washing guidance (including videos) to share with their children.
What will we do if pupils or staff become unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 (either through travel to a specified country or area or contact with a confirmed case)?
We will call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk), and if appropriate, explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days. Whilst we wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, we will find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people. They will be advised to avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the bin. The room will need to be cleaned once they leave. If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they will use a separate bathroom (which will also be cleaned once they leave).
What will we do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil or staff) is suspected in our school?
If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in our school, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID-19 are awaited. There is no need to close the school or send other learners or staff home. As a precautionary measure, the NHS are currently testing a very large number of people who have travelled back from affected countries, the vast majority of whom test negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that staff members need to take apart from cleaning specific areas and disposing of waste. Once the results arrive, those who test negative for COVID-19 will be advised individually about return to education.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil or staff) is confirmed in our school?
We will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. An assessment of school will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with relevant staff. Advice on the management of pupils and staff will be based on this assessment.
The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the patient directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts, and will be in touch with any contacts of the patient to provide them with appropriate advice. Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as classrooms, changing rooms and toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team.
If there is a confirmed case, a risk assessment will be undertaken by school with advice from the local Health Protection Team. In most cases, closure of the school will be unnecessary but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and pupil mixing.
What do we do if pupils or staff are ‘contacts’ with a confirmed case of COVID-19 who was symptomatic while attending our school?
The definition of a contact includes:
- any pupil or staff member in close face-to-face or touching contact, including those undertaking small group work (within 2 metres of the case for more than 15 minutes)
- talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the individual is symptomatic
- anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids of the individual
- close friendship groups
- any pupil or staff member living in the same household as a confirmed case.
Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others, however:
- they will be asked to self-isolate at home, or within their boarding school dormitory room, for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-self-isolation-for-patients-undergoing-testing/advice-sheet-home-isolation)
- they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
- if they develop any symptoms within their 14 day observation period they should call NHS 111 for assessment
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
- if they require emergency medical attention, call 999 and tell the call handler or ambulance control that the person has a history of potential contact with COVID-19
- if they are unwell at any time within their 14 day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection
Family and friends who have not had close contact (as listed above) with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities such as attending school or work, unless they become unwell. If they become unwell, they should call NHS 111 and explain their symptoms and discuss any known contact with the case to consider if they need further assessment.
If a confirmed case occurs in school, the local Health Protection Team will provide you with advice and will work with the Headteacher. Outside those that are defined as close contacts, the rest of the school does not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities attending school or work as usual, unless they become unwell. If they become unwell they will be assessed as a suspected case depending on their symptoms. This advice applies to teaching staff and children in the rest of the class who are not in a close friendship group or children undertaking small group work. The decision as to whether pupils and staff fall into this contact group or the closer contact group will be made between the Health Protection Team, the school and (if they are old enough) the pupil. Advice should be given as follows:
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be asked to self-isolate and should seek medical advice from NHS 111
- if they are unwell at any time within the 14 days of contact and they are tested and are positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated as such.
The Coronavirus helpline for staff, parents and young people:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
We have two trips planned for w/c 16.03.20, with Y6 pupils going on their residential trip to North Wales, and Reception going to Smithills Farm. At the time of writing, both trips will be going ahead as planned (based upon current advice from DfE), with an additional emphasis placed on hygiene and handwashing.