School Newsfeed and Information
I thought I should write to you regarding coronavirus as several of you have been in touch about the possibility of the school closing or asking whether you should keep your children at home. These are anxious times, with uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances, and it is difficult to guess what may happen next. I write today, but there is a chance that whatever I tell you will quickly be superseded by briefing from the government, Bucks CC or the Department for Education (DfE). I will try and pass on any significant updates that I receive, so do please ensure your Parentmail account is up and running and check the school website regularly. We have today sent out a reminder to all parents who have not yet set up a Parentmail account that they should do so.
As things stand, the advice from the DfE is that we should remain open, so that is what we will do. I share some of the misgivings expressed by parents that the United Kingdom is almost alone in taking this approach to schools, but we need to follow this advice.
Although we will run the school as usual, there will be some changes to wider school events following the government press conference yesterday, and all of the following are postponed:
- This week’s Energise performances at Wycombe Swan,
- Friday’s Day in the Life of Year 5,
- Year 4’s performances of The Jungle Book,
- All class assemblies,
- Our Art Exhibition on 2 April,
- Nursery Stay and Play (24 March),
- The Early Years Easter Tea Party (3 April).
We hope to be able to give you new dates for all of the above once we return to normal life.
Pupil attendance was down yesterday by roughly 20% but we have no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus in our direct school community. Some parents kept their children at home as they may have been in contact with a possible coronavirus sufferer, others have done so purely as a precaution, (against current government thinking) and others are just unwell - it’s March in England, so lots of coughs and colds are still doing the rounds!
Parents who are keeping their children at home have requested work for them to do, and I have asked the staff to prepare links and lists of suggested activities that will be put on the Hamilton website over the next few days. We will today send home the Purple Mash and MyMaths log-ins for all pupils, as a reminder. However, please be aware that our main focus is on teaching the 80% of children who are in school each day, and that will be our priority. We have been told by the DfE to authorise absence due to illness and for children who are self-isolating following possible contact, and that we should decide whether to authorise other absences depending on their specific circumstance.
I have repeated the latest Department for Education advice below. My own view is that is vital that we as adults remain calm and supportive of each other and that we must all do our very best to ensure we do not pass our fears or anxieties on to the children. The children are, as always, our primary concern. I would ask that you do bring them into school where they can learn alongside their friends unless you have a compelling reason to keep them at home.
As always, all at Hamilton are keen to work with you to deliver the best possible education and care for your children.
Latest Advice for schools from the Department for Education
What you need to know
- staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
- if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
- clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
- supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
- posters and lesson plans on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website
- unless you have been directly advised to close by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team, we recommend all education settings remain open
This guidance will assist staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.
This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a new, continuous cough or a high temperature.
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection.
What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site
If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance.
If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.
If they need clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.
In most cases, closure of the educational setting will not be needed but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread.
If there is an urgent public health action to take, the educational setting will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team who will undertake a risk assessment and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. PHE will rarely advise a school to close but this may be necessary if there are so many staff being isolated that the school has operational issues. Your local authority will support you to make this assessment. PHE will work with the headteacher, principal or management team, and the Local Authority Public Health team, to advise on the management of children, pupils, students or staff.
CAKE SALE - message from Mrs Pumfrey, Deputy Headteacher
As part of their current topic on animals, Reception are organising a cake sale this Friday afternoon, 28 February, for all the children at Priory Road to raise funds for Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs.
Donations of cakes would be warmly welcome from Thursday onwards. Please send them into your child's class teacher. Any homemade cakes need to have a list of ingredients attached, and please name the container you send the cake in, so that it is returned to you.
Each cake will be sold for 50p - so if you wish your child to take part, please send in a cash donation of no more than £1 in a named purse or envelope on Friday.
Follow the school newspaper - Planet Hamilton - on Twitter: @HamiltonPlanet
See FoH page for theatre ticket offers: http://hamiltonacademy.org.uk/For-Parents/Friends-of-Hamilton/
Extreme Weather - procedure
Reminder of our closure procedures in case of severe weather: should there be a need to contact parents in the event of hazardous weather, a text message will be sent to all who have registered their mobile numbers on ParentMail. Details of school closure information will be on this website and be announced on the Bucks website: www.buckscc.gov.uk
Any decision will be made as early as possible by the Headteacher and Chair of Governors. Please be assured that the school will only be closed as a last resort - the weather would have to be severe enough to prevent a majority of staff getting to school.
If you haven't registered to use ParentMail you are urged to do so. On this website click the link 'For Parents' and choose 'ParentMail' then submit your details and a registration letter will be sent to you.