Coronavirus – Advice for Families

10th February 2020

Sunday 15th March 2020
We've been working on our contingency planning and responses to the current coronavirus situation.
Our aim is to err on the safe side without completely over reacting!

You already know that the requirement is now:

  • People should stay at home for seven days if you have, however mild, a new continuous cough or high temperature

However, we are going to ask that, on a voluntary basis, you keep your children off even if they have a mild cold. Because this goes beyond the advice coming out from government, we can't and won't enforce this but it seems like a sensible additional safeguard. If this would cause you to lose paid work or mean that someone in a high risk group would be looking after your child, please get in touch before making a decision about keeping your child off.

Why ask children with cold symptoms to stay off?

The good news is that, according to all reports, children seem to get only mild symptoms and are therefore at a very low risk if they catch the virus. Also, the incidence of known coronavirus in our area are still very low so the likelihood that a cold, cough or even temperature is actually coronavirus is still tiny. All of those symptoms are much more likely to be a different virus.

Therefore, asking children to stay off with any cold symptoms may well be an overreaction. However, my understanding is that children may get the virus at some point and not even know so it is a precaution that is worth considering to stop it spreading in our school community.

Otherwise, everyone should be at school as normal. It looks like we are in this for the long haul but the risks still seem to be low for now.

Further information from Other Sources

I have listened to all of the BBC Sounds Coronavirus Podcasts and have found them really helpful in thinking through the risks and understanding the reason for some of the guidance and decisions being made by the government. If you want to know more, I'd highly recommend listening to them, especially the episodes from 13th March.

You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/p085f9hw

Visitors (Including Parents) Entering the building

ALL visitors, including parents, must come in via the main office. There is a hand sanitiser unit by the signing in book (it has been there for several years) and EVERYONE entering the building must use it before signing in.

There will probably be a second unit outside the doors from Tuesday.

In normal times, some parents who were meeting with a teacher would come in via the classroom door or another door. For now, this won't be allowed.

As of Monday, the children are going to be washing their hands on arrival at school before starting their normal school day.

I am trying hard to remember not to shake hands!

Mr Richbell

Telling Us Your Child Is Off Ill

Please could you use 'Study Bugs' to tell us your child is off ill?

If you haven't signed up already, visit their website: https://studybugs.com/about/parents

They have an app as well.

This will help reduce the number of telephone messages left on our answerphone.

 

12th March Update
 
Coronavirus - Advice and Guidance Update


Dear St Nics Families,

The advice from the Government regarding coronavirus has been updated this evening.

At St Nics we have been following the advice we've been getting from the government and local authority to the letter. I have been in touch with the Department for Education helpline a couple of times to clarify guidance and will do so again when I need to.

This evening the government have repeated their position that schools are not to close at this time.

The requirement is now:
  • People should stay at home for seven days if you have, however mild, a new continuous cough or high temperature (That includes children and staff).
  • Schools are advised against international school trips.
These requirements are very likely to cause us staffing shortages at some point because, at this time of year, we would normally have several members of staff with a cough who wouldn't dream of staying at home!

This evening and tomorrow we will be coming up with contingency plans both for possible staffing shortages and just in case the government decides to close schools in the future. We will be in touch soon with more details.

Year 6 France Trip

Please don't contact us about the trip at the movement! Other contingencies are more urgent. We've got time to check the advice and we will be in touch with you soon. As we have promised before, if the trip doesn't go ahead you will receive a full refund.

Take care.

Mr Richbell
 
 
Wednesday 12th Feb - Update
 

Coronavirus - No change in advice!

Dear St Nics Families,

I promised to update you with any new guidance.

All schools have been receiving daily updates from the council which have been helpful but the actual advice has remained consistent and is what I passed on to you earlier in the week, so no change in guidance.

However, I have particularly been feeling my responsibilities to you all this week so I have been trying to find out as much as I can and thought these few things were worth sharing. They are from press reports, and therefore not official:

The pupil who was 'self-isolated' from PACA has been tested and is negative for the virus.

As of 2pm on Tuesday 11th February, 1,358 individuals in the UK had been tested for coronavirus with 1,350 confirmed negative and eight positive.

Every one of the cases identified in the UK so far contracted the virus abroad. (A ninth case was confirmed this evening, also contracted outside the UK).

I am certain that lots of you have been, and may remain, concerned. I am also certain that most of you will have wondered whether you should consider keeping your children at home just to be certain. So far all of you have followed the advice and sent your children in to school, for which I am grateful.

Although the details behind the headlines appear positive we won't be in any way complaisant. We will continue to remind the children to 'catch, bin, kill' and wash hands regularly. I will also inform you immediately if any of the advice changes.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Richbell

Coronavirus – Advice for Families (Monday 10th Feb)

Dear St Nics Families,

All schools in the country have been sent advice from the Department for Education about coronavirus. Additionally, Brighton and Hove Council are updating schools about the local situation.

The short version is not to be overly worried. The long version is below.

We are going to remind the children every day about the sorts of precautions they should be taking to avoid spreading other germs such as coughs and colds using the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' poster which helps the children see the importance of catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue, throwing the tissue straight in the bin and washing your hands afterwards.

Everyone is already supposed to wash their hands before eating lunch but we will remind them as, in their haste to eat lunch, they don't always remember!

As and when the guidance changes, we will text message ande-mail you and point you to the school website for further information.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Richbell

The Latest Advice from the Government
 
The Government has set up a web page giving the most up to date information.
 

All schools have been sent the following:

Coronavirus – Advice for all early years providers, schools and further education providers

The government is closely monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus and is taking action at home and abroad.

The overall risk of Coronavirus to the UK remains moderate. However we understand that people may be concerned where there are children, students or staff returning from or visiting China.

Public Health England and the Foreign Office have issued advice for anyone travelling to the area. This can be found at:

·       https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

·       https://www.gov.uk/government/news/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-and-avian-flu-advice-for-travel-to-china

Latest information and advice can also be found at:

·       https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Please share this advice with your staff and cascade as appropriate.

Advice for parents/guardians

You should not be unduly worried about the possibility of your children catching the Coronavirus.

There is no reason why your children should not continue to attend their early years, school or further education setting as normal.

We recognise that some families or children may be planning to travel to China during the forthcoming half term period. If so, please refer to the FCO’s latest travel advice via the link above. 

Latest update from Brighton & Hove Council (7pm Monday 10th Feb)

It has been confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer for England that four further patients have tested positive for novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to eight. 

This means that five out of the eight current confirmed cases in the UK were reported in Brighton & Hove. All the Brighton & Hove cases are adults. The new cases are known contacts of a previously confirmed UK case. The virus was passed on in France.

A number of people have been contacted by Public Health England and told to self-isolate. I understand that it may be concerning to your teaching staff, parents and pupils but this is a precaution, to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

More information and advice

Public Health England continue to lead on control measures and they will be contacting people who may be affected using their established systems for similar situations.  If someone has not been contacted by PHE as a close contact, they do not need to take any action.

Public Health England and the office of the Chief Medical Officer are clear in their advice that schools do not need to close. Headteachers with any concerns are advised to speak with Public Health England if you have any specific worries.