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We are sharing the latest information regarding the current Coronavirus outbreak to ensure that you have access to all the current available guidance.
Headteacher's update: 18 September 2020
- Start-of-day routines
- Face masks
- School absence
- Planning for future lockdown
There will come a time when I’m able to write to you about school life without spending quite so long on issues related to public health. Sadly, this is not that time. Much of what follows deals with how we can work together ever more effectively to keep your children safe. But I would be remiss if I didn’t start by congratulating students for how well they have responded to the return to school, on their focus and attention in lessons and on their increasing maturity outside of them.
Many of my colleagues have been particularly impressed with our new cohort of Year 7 students, who seem to have adapted to secondary schooling in record time. We have also been highly impressed by our founding cohort of students, those in Year 11, who are showing real dedication to preparing for their GCSEs later this year.
I should thank parents for their efforts in ensuring that their children arrive at school at their allotted time. The process of getting children into school safely is already far smoother and more efficient and contributes to a calm atmosphere in the classroom. This has also been helped by the recent closure of Melbourne Grove at the junction of Grove Vale, which has greatly reduced traffic congestion at the start of the day. I realise that this is a controversial topic with some business owners. But it is very clear that the traffic calming measures are making your children’s journey to school far safer.
The public health situation remains serious. On some measures, it is becoming more so. The School is obliged to respond by gradually tightening its own efforts to keep students and staff safe from infection.
Two weeks ago, we asked students to wear those face masks anywhere they might come into contact with children outside of their Year Group. Most students have responded really well to this requirement and are now wearing their face masks responsibly. A small minority of students repeatedly ‘forget’ to bring their mask to school and, disappointingly, a handful have been quite dismissive of the wearing of masks under any circumstances.
These behaviours, whether intentional or otherwise, increase the risk to others. Therefore, we will start issuing sanctions for persistent failure or refusal to wear a face mask in school (unless there is a medical reason why a mask should not be worn). The School cannot rule out moving to a system in which it classifies face masks as part of school uniform and therefore a condition of admittance in the morning.
The decision whether or not to send your child into school has never been more important. I hope we have been clear that students showing symptoms of Covid-19, or who live with someone with those symptoms, should not come into school. Instead, they should follow the government’s official guidance on self-isolation and access a coronavirus test within three to five days of the onset of symptoms -- either via the NHS online portal or by dialing 119. If the test is negative, the child and the family can stop isolating and return to school/ work if they feel well enough.
As a reminder, the official symptoms associated with Covid-19 are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
- Some people may have unexplained diarrhea/vomiting, though this is more common in children than adults.
On the other hand, the last thing we want is for children to stay at home when there is no real need. We recently received guidance from the Royal College of Pediatrics, which states: ‘children with simple cold symptoms such as coryzal symptoms (runny noses) or sore throats without fever who would normally have attended schools in other times should not be tested for COVID-19.’
This is also the approach we will take in school. Students who exhibit the above symptoms will have their temperature taken by a member of school staff trained in first aid. Only if their temperature is elevated or if they show the symptoms above, will we send them home or ask that they be collected.
Planning for future lockdowns
Some parents have understandable questions about the School’s preparation for any future local or national Lockdown. The government has made repeated. strong commitments to keeping schools open for as long as possible. To the best of our knowledge, no programme of complete school closure is being considered.
In the event of what is referred to as a ‘Tier 2’ local Lockdown, one that would involve partial school closures, the government has mandated a rota system according to which students would attend school 50 percent of the time and study from home 50 percent of the time. The rotas are to be organised by year group.
The Charter School East Dulwich is fully prepared to comply with government policy. In outline, parents should expect their children to be following a mostly ‘live’ timetable while studying from home. Lessons will be accessible via Google Classroom in the same way as children are accustomed to accessing weekly homework. Work will be set in a way that can be completed offline in order not to disadvantage children who have limited internet access at home. Lessons will also be recorded in order that children who fall behind have access to them on an ongoing basis. I will share more information regarding our planning when the government guidance is final.
Thank you for your continued support and kind regards.
Mr. A. Crossman