Contingency Planning Details from Principal Andrew Davis
I am writing to update you on our current planning in relation to Coronavirus. Updates will be included on the "News" section of this website, where you can also find the latest guidance from the Department for Education.
As you will see from the latest advice from the Government their advice continues to be to remain open unless otherwise advised by Public Health England. If your child has a new continuous cough or high temperature then they should not be sent into school but should go into self-isolation. Guidance on self-isolation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection but includes ensuring you stay at home and do not go out to public areas or for a walk as well as staying in a well ventilated room and away from other family members in your home.
We will continue to make every effort to stay open.
However, if we are instructed to close by Public Health England or due to a lack of staff, then this may involve a full closure for all year groups or a partial closure where certain year groups, such as Year 11 and Year 13 are still allowed on to the site. Please note that this could happen at short notice depending on the staff available each morning so please ensure you have some contingencies in place to care for your children..
In these circumstances, we will prioritise ensuring that exam classes have work. For Year 12 and 13 this will be communicated by email and so students should not expect work at the exact time of their lesson but on the same day. Emails will allow attachments and so work will be able to be sent in and out of the College. For Year 11 initially work will be sent home via Class Charts (please make sure your child and you can log in) and will also involve the use of GCSE Pod, Seneca learning, GCSE Bitesize, Mathswatch and so on so please make sure your child knows how to log on to these sites. If the closure is for an extended period of time we will issue Year 11 with email addresses so that they will also be able to send work in and out of the College directly. Once Year 11, 12 and 13 arrangements are working well, Year 10 and Key stage 3 students will be set work through Class Charts and the use of other packages such as Key Stage 3 Bitesize and appropriate Key stage 4 based packages. If it were to be an extended closure we would then issue email access to all other year groups.
Please remember that it is possible that some teachers may also be ill during this time and so not able to send work home.
Should we be forced to close in order to communicate with us please use email in the first instance. We will publish email addresses on our website for a ICT support, Class Charts support and tutor email addresses to help with class charts logins or pastoral issues for instance. We will continue to publish phone numbers on the website, however, email communication will be more effective.
If your child becomes unwell with Coronavirus please email into the tutor email and Key Stage office email to let them know.
It is possible that the instruction from Government may be to close for several weeks, however, it is clear from the guidance issued today that this is not currently their preferred course of action. In this
scenario I would expect guidance to be issued nationally due to the potential impact on external examinations in the Summer.
Potentially we could be advised to only open for certain year groups such as Year 11 and Year 13. In this case the advice for full closure would apply to other year groups in terms of using Class Charts to access work online initially and moving to the use of email over time. In this scenario we would expect examination year groups to attend as normal unless they were showing symptoms of, or have, coronavirus or were unwell. This scenario would also depend on the staff available at that time to teach classes.
If there are confirmed case within our community......
It is possible that an infection affects a member of our school community and a case of Coronavirus is suspected or confirmed. At the moment we have a number of students and staff that are self-isolating since they meet the conditions of having a continuous cough or a high temperature, however, the advice from Public Health England (PHE) is to remain open even if there is a confirmed case: "unless you have been directly advised to close by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team, we recommend all education settings remain open". We will always follow advice from PHE and currently students can attend school if they are free of Coronavirus symptoms (fever and/or new continuous cough). If you child has these symptoms please do not send your child in but self-isolate and inform us. If a child complains of these symptoms, or they develop during the day, we will isolate students and then ask you to pick them up from school as soon as possible to self -isolate.
Closure due to high levels of staff illness and absence
As a school we can manage certain levels of staff absence, for instance, on snow days when staff cannot always get in to school. However, if staff absence levels become too high because they are self isolating due to underlying conditions or have become ill then we may need to undertake a full or partial closure. If it becomes apparent that we cannot supervise the site or classes safely, we may have to close some year groups. As previously, we will prioritise the teaching of Year 11 and 13 classes. We fully understand the impact that closures have on families and so would only do this if we had exhausted all other options. If we have to do this we will contact you through text messages, email, website and our social media. It is possible that we may have to make this judgement on a day to day basis as staff return from self isolation balanced against those who are becoming ill. Given the nature of the illness we are mindful that doubling up classes would not be appropriate unless it was an absolute emergency.
Setting work for absent students if the College is open
Unfortunately, if you child is self isolating, it will not always be possible to set them individual work since it depends on levels of staff absence. It is very possible that staff will be in school teaching, covering other lessons and potentially setting work for other classes where the teacher is absent. Wherever possible staff will try to support students, particularly from examination classes, however I would direct you to other learning resources such as GCSE Bitesize in the first instance.
How can I support my child if there is a closure?
· Please make sure you are familiar with our methods of communication and are checking them regularly for updates.
· Please try wherever possible to arrange supervision for your child so they are safe during the school day
· If possible, bearing in mind parental work demands, plan routines that would mirror a school day for your child, such as focussed learning time/activities and breaks in approximation of our daily structure. This is particularly important for Year 11 and 13 students where they will potentially be facing external examinations first thing in the morning
· Start thinking and researching for websites that may be helpful and suit your child's learning style
I hope that you would recognise that these are very uncertain times which no one has previously experienced. Therefore, outlined above, are our most informed scenarios based on our collective previous experiences. However, the situation is changing on a day by day basis and we may have to respond to events very rapidly in order to respond to the national guidance that we receive or conditions on the ground.
I hope you would appreciate that many staff at the College also have anxieties and concerns of their own about the present situation. Like many of you, this might include pre-existing health conditions which put them at higher risk, elderly relatives that they care for or indeed children of their own, of all ages, who would also be affected by any school closures. Hopefully, at such a time of crises and concern, we can all come together to do our very best collectively as staff, students and family members to successfully see our way through this national emergency.
As always we will do our very best to keep students safe and educate them during this very difficult time. Many thanks for your continued support.
Andrew Davis - Principal Exmouth Community College