17th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

 

Further to our letter last week, I am writing to you to give you an update from the school’s perspective. As you’re probably aware, the government’s guidance on the coronavirus is changing frequently and we have new guidance confirming some of what the Prime Minister was discussing yesterday evening. We’re getting in touch to let you know what we’re doing in light of this, and what we can all do, to help make sure our school community keeps safe and calm.

We’d like to reassure you that at Palatine we’re continuing to take all of the necessary steps to protect our community and are continuing to follow official guidance from the government and West Sussex.

The guidance has changed significantly so please read this carefully.

Palatine currently remains open and will aim to do so until advised by the Department for Education and Public Health England or unless I deem it unsafe to meet the needs of students to be open. We may need to consider partial closures for some classes where pupils are the most vulnerable.

There has been a change to the advice on self-isolation and vulnerable groups.

If you and your child are well, please continue to send your child to school.

If you or anyone in your household is displaying symptoms then all members of the household should self-isolate for 14 days. Please make sure you inform us that this is the case.

The symptoms are: a new persistent cough and/or a high temperature.

The government has given additional advice on social distancing for vulnerable people. This group includes some of our pupils and staff. The list is as follows:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.

Please follow the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

As the number of households self-isolating increases this will cause real difficulty. We will endeavour to stay open.

We are working hard at Palatine to be able to support our pupils in the event of a closure. Each class team are busy putting together individualised home learning packs to provide you with learning activities should we need to close.

The staff team are working with the cleaning team to keep the building clean so that all risks are mitigated. We have reduced the number of community trips, all of which are specifically risk assessed in the current circumstances, while keeping our focus on learning and care.

We are facing an unprecedented challenge with the Coronavirus. We are all conscious that older members of our community and those with underlying health conditions are at much greater risk. It is vital that we all do what we can to mitigate this by staying calm, following advice and taking effective precautions. For further information, please visit the West Sussex County Council website – or https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

What we’re doing to protect and support pupils and staff

  • If a pupil presents as ill on the premises parents will be expected to collect them from school
  • pupils are expected to wash hands on entry to school in the morning; All door handles/door plates are sanitised regularly during the day
  • Personal development lessons outline how pupils can keep themselves safe as appropriate
  • All non-essential meetings off site for staff have been suspended for the interim to ensure staff are always available in school; we will always send written reports and follow up outside of school hours

 What we need you to do

  • If you’ve recently changed your contact details, please inform the school office as soon as possible via email/telephone
  • Talk to your children about the coronavirus. It’s a scary time and we should make sure children feel supported. BBC Newsround has regular updates for younger children. Teachers will be sending home social stories you can share with your children.
  • Come and collect your child straight away, if we ask you to (we’ll contact you if they become ill with either a temperature or a new, continuous cough)
  • Please ensure you regularly check the website and emails for updated communication regarding latest guidance and school measures. The information is fast moving and as such we will be informing you as soon as we are able.

What happens if the school has to close?

We’ll only close if we’re either officially advised to do so or we don’t have enough staff to run the school. We may need to consider partial closures for some classes where pupils are the most vulnerable.

In either case, we’ll:

  • alert parents to closure via text and a post on our website
  • Similarly we will use both to let parents know when the school will be reopened

Should we be closed, we will endeavor to provide online learning idea and activities for you to do with the children at home.

If you have any questions

Please consult the:

  • School office, if you have any questions about our response to this issue
  • NHS, if you want to know more about the symptoms of coronavirus. If you think you or your child may have the symptoms, use NHS 111 online if at all possible before calling 111

It’s a tricky time and we know you’re worried about the impact this might have on our community. It’s important we keep each other safe and talk about these events to help with any anxiety.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

This is a fast moving situation and we will continue to update when we have more information and please note this may be after the end of the school day.

Kindest regards

Catriona Goldsmith

 

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