Letter to Parents – February 2020
Please note that this is an updated response following my initial letter from yesterday.
As you will be aware, the situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing continually. Following numerous communications with colleagues, parents and representatives from Kent County Council, I have taken the decision to ask the staff and students involved in the ski trip to Italy over this past week not to attend school until further notice. This is an additional precaution from the advice given by Public Health England in order to reassure all members of the school community at an uncertain and emotional time. I apologise that this is a change in circumstances, although I am sure you can appreciate my caution in making this decision.
The following link will take you to the latest guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Please be aware that the risk to individuals in the UK still remains low, but given the half-term holiday and the potential for students and colleagues to have travelled, including our own school trips to Normandy, Iceland and Italy, I would like to draw your attention to the information entitled ‘Returning travellers’ in the above link in particular. (Please note that the school trip to Italy was not within one of the specific lockdown areas as designated by the Government of Italy.)
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ advice states that you should call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately if you have travelled to the UK from:
- Hubei province in China in the last 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms
- Iran, lockdown areas in northern Italy or special care zones in South Korea since 19 February, even if you do not have symptoms
- other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)
- other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if your symptoms are mild)
Please be reassured that we continue to follow all the advice from the relevant government departments, and, as mentioned above, we are also being advised at a local level by Kent County Council.
In the event of a student or member of staff being diagnosed as having the virus, we will, of course, follow advice provided by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team which will be specific to an assessment of our circumstances and setting.
Over the course of this week, a number of steps have been taken in school to ensure that there are appropriate facilities to support hand washing and sanitisation. We have also ensured that we have appropriate signage displayed throughout the school to remind students and staff of the need to maintain high standards of hygiene at all times.
Please also find on the school website a helpful poster for schools from Public Health England which summarises some of the key information and offers advice on hygiene. Please share and discuss this information with your child to ensure that they are informed and reassured.
I appreciate that this is a concerning time given the heightened media attention at present around the virus, but please be assured that we will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will respond accordingly. It is obviously imperative for us to be cautious but to maintain a good sense of perspective at all times.
Thank you very much for your support with this matter. I look forward to welcoming the students back to school on Monday – we have another very busy and exciting term ahead of us!