Update Advice / School Closures - 19th March 2020

Thank you for your on-going support and co-operation during this challenging time. It is much appreciated by the staff team and all members of our community.

 

Last night the Secretary of State for Education and the Prime Minister made announcements in relation to the closing of schools from Friday and the role that Special Schools will take going forward. The whole of my staff team are committed to supporting the national effort. However, at this point the Department for Education has not released in detail how special schools will need to operate.

 

The DfE have promised to provide guidance to support special schools, especially those like ourselves which cater for pupils with complex needs. Whilst this guidance has been promised today, we have yet to receive it. As soon as we have further information, we will share it with you.

 

At all stages our primary concern is for the well-being and safeguarding of students and staff. This is why, following the Public Health England (PHE) guidance on Social Distancing for individuals with underlying health issues, we contacted parents of pupils who fall into this category on the basis that they ‘are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus’. A great number of our parents/carers have made the proactive decision to take their child out of school, based on health concerns.  As it stands, the vast majority of our pupils with the most complex health needs are now off-site, which by risk assessment remains the logical and moral action to safeguard these vulnerable young people.

 

I have a number of staff with underlying health conditions who have taken the decision to practise social distancing. There is also another group of staff who are not at school as they are following government guidance and self-isolating on a precautionary basis due to having a cough or high temperature. As from Monday, following the closure of mainstream schools, we will also have an additional number of staff who are unable to come to school due to their own childcare responsibilities. This will impact on the running of our school and will significantly reduce the number of pupils we are able to safely have on site. By the end of Friday, we will communicate with all parents/carers our decision regarding how the school will operate on an ongoing basis.

 

Can I once again ask that parents inform the school via the generic email account: foreland@foreland.kent.sch.uk if they are key workers, which has thus far been defined as:

  • NHS Staff
  • Police & Emergency Service workers
  • Delivery drivers who need to deliver food and supplies such as petrol

 

We have today consulted with Public Health England as, this morning, we received notification of a single suspected, but unconfirmed, case of coronavirus. The pupil concerned has a significantly high temperature. This case has been triaged via 111 and the advice given has been for this pupil to self-isolate and to be monitored. This has not yet been recorded as a confirmed case as the child has not been tested. Following consultation with PHE, we completed all recommended hygiene procedures and actions. Parents/carers of those children within the class of the affected child, who are currently attending, have been notified. We have a number of other pupils who are being kept at home on a precautionary basis as they have either a temperature or cough, but none of these are, at this point, suspected cases.

 

I, along with my other Headteacher colleagues within KsENT, will work together with the local authority to understand the detail of the government’s plan for special schools as this information is provided and will, of course, share this with you.

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