Coronavirus Update CO-VID19

17th March 2020

CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE

Thank you for your continued support with our management of the current situation regarding COVID-19. This is a time of uncertainty for many and we are working within the guidelines set out by Public Health England and the Department of Education. With this in mind we are taking as many measures as we can to safeguard against risks associated with the health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff.

The government guidance was updated yesterday and states that anyone living in a family with someone with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

We are taking precautions and making sensible, informed decisions based on the best available advice. We will be requesting that you keep at home children presenting with any symptoms and their siblings. If they present with symptoms at school we will contact you and ask that you remove them from school quickly. We recognise that this is not always convenient but we are here to serve a large
community of pupils and staff and we would rather be wrong and cause inconvenience than inadvertently spread the virus.

Staff shortages
Of course, school staff also have to follow the guidance and self-isolate if necessary, today we had 9 members of teaching and support staff unwell or working from home. Members of our staff team are really supporting each other and working very hard, volunteering to take on extra duties to keep things running smoothly. However it is important to make you aware that, should we be unable to safely staff our schools, we will consider closure. Currently such measures are not necessary, but we will keep you informed and where possible we will move to partial rather than full closure. This may mean closing to a year group, a class or combining 2 classes together.

Cancellation of Events
We are cancelling/postponing all parents’ evening meetings (these were scheduled for 2 weeks’ time), sports fixtures, daytime visits and educational visitors to school. Additionally, we have postponed the use of our school facilities by community groups, in the evenings and at weekends. Year 5 Swimming lessons have also been cancelled until further notice – affected pupils should therefore attend school as normal. Currently, we have not cancelled forthcoming residential visits, but it is likely that some or all of them will be affected too.

How can you help?
We are taking all reasonable precautions to ensure that school equipment used by multiple pupils (eg musical instruments) are cleaned regularly, and that pupils are observing good hygiene routines before and after use. Please ensure that children have their own ‘regular equipment’ such as pens, pencils, rulers, PE kit etc. We are unable to loan such items at this time, due to risk of infection. Of course we want to maintain good communication, but please use email or telephone where possible,
rather than visiting the school.

For now, 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. That
said, the situation is changing rapidly. Please be reassured again that we are doing everything we can in line with the latest advice. To be clear: this is not TCLT advice nor Highfield’s own unique way of dealing with things. It is national advice that every school, education and childcare provider is required
to follow.

We would like to take this opportunity to also thank the many members of the community who have offered to help out in school. This is not possible as it is not in line with the guidance, but if you wish to offer help in your local communities, we would ask that you donate to the local foodbanks who will need
your support at this time.

We would also like to thank all the staff at Highfield and across TCLT who are working hard, doing their very best to demonstrate a calm and professional attitude even when they are themselves worried. If you are looking for specific guidance on how to talk to children, the following internet sites provide some
good advice:

www.bbc.co.uk/newsround (younger pupils)
www.youngminds.org.uk (older pupils)

We wish all families a good evening and we all await to see what tomorrow brings. Please look after yourselves. Wash those hands!!

Yours sincerely,
Alice Witherow
Chief Executive Officer
TCLT

Richard Oades
Headteacher
Highfield Middle School