Coronavirus: COVID-19 News

COVID-19 (Exams Update) - 24 MARCH 2020

Following the decision to close schools and not go ahead with this summer’s exams, the government has announced more details of how grades will be awarded this summer. I know how keen you are to have some clarity, so I wanted to share this information with you. Please follow this link to the Ofqual and DfE Guidance that was published on 20 March. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-following-announcement-on-exams-and-grades

For those students in year 13 who have university offers a statement has been made by the Universities Minister and this can be found here: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universities-told-not-to-alter-applicants-offers?utm_source=bf12f571-852e-4a5f-94cd-905146b55497&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

I hope this new information will answer some of your questions – but I appreciate that you may still have some. We are asking you not to contact individual members of staff asking about specific grades at this time. We’re here to support you through these extraordinary times, and we’ll share new details as soon as we get them. 

COVID-19 UPDATE - COLLEGE CLOSURE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

We have organised all the information you need regarding the closure of the college from 20 March into a series of documents. Please read them and do contact us if you have any questions.

Guidance on Remote Learning

Guidance on Remote Learning - Sixth Form

Guidance on Safeguarding

Letter to Parents/Carers of children attending school from Monday 23 March

COVID-19 GUIDANCE  (Key Worker Provision) - 20 MARCH 2020

Thank you for your replies to our request for information about children of key workers.  In order to finalise our plans, we will be calling those who have replied today to check your need. If you haven’t yet replied please do so via this link by 11.00am on Friday 20 March 2020.  Please only complete this form if you believe you fall into this category and do state whether you require provision for your child.  

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=ZYDmaCklmU-QjSjTX_KwDTkDgIjSB2VIidCRbSVqr0BURTRJVVdMOUtUTUtKSlNKQ0gzTDQyOUFMTS4u

If you wish to check the definitions of key workers please use the latest government guidance 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

Thank you for your continued support.

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 19 MARCH 2020

RE: COVID-19 Update – Closure of Schools 

As you know, the Government announced that schools in England will close to pupils at the end of Friday 20 March except for: 

  • children of key workers 
  • children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) 
  • vulnerable children. 

Children of Key Workers 

A separate communication has been sent to you regarding parents/carers who are key workers. If you have not already done so, please complete the Google Form on the link below by 9.00am on Friday 20 March 2020: 

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=ZYDmaCklmU-QjSjTX_KwDTkDgIjSB2VIidCRbSVqr0BURTRJVVdMOUtUTUtKSlNKQ0gzTDQyOUFMTS4u

If you are unsure if you are a key worker, then please consult Government guidance (expected to be issued imminently) or contact the College. If you are in any doubt, please complete the Google form. 

Children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and Vulnerable Children 

The Government has also announced that pupils with a social worker should attend school. We are working closely with the Local Authority and colleagues in Social Services to make arrangements for these pupils. In addition, if your child has an Education Health Care Plan, please contact Mrs Morris, Assistant Principal (Head of the School of Supported Learning) if you have not already done so. 

Pupils Attending School from Monday 23 March 

We will form more detailed arrangements for all pupils attending school from Monday 23 March. I can confirm that these pupils may wear their summer polo shirts or a plain school shirt. Blazers and ties are not necessary. At the present time, we plan to provide a normal service in the College’s restaurant, albeit reduced given the numbers of pupils attending school. The timings of the school day will run as normal with 8.40am start and 3.15pm finish. Pupils will not be permitted to leave school during the day. 

Lockers and Personal Belongings 

If your son/daughter will not be attending school from Monday 23 March, please can you ensure that they take home all exercise books and other belongings (clothes, equipment etc.) at the end of the school day tomorrow, Friday 20 March. Please empty lockers. Pupils are also advised to take home padlocks. This only applies to pupils who will not be attending school from Monday 23 March. 

Remote Learning and Studying at Home 

A separate communication with further details on remote learning and our expectations of pupils will be issued shortly. In summary, for pupils studying at home, teachers have been setting work for their classes using Class Charts. Pupils are expected to complete this work during the hours of the normal school day and complete any classwork by the deadline stated, submitting any work to 

be assessed in the agreed way. Pupils are expected to log in (using their college username and password) to Class Charts daily and check regularly for updates and for information on work that has been set. Additional resources are on the curriculum pages on the College’s website. Work and resources will be added regularly to Class Charts and the website, but please note that if teachers are unwell they will not be able to set work on a particular day. 

Please also encourage your child to keep reading – we aim to continue the ‘Word of the Week’ initiative during our closure. 

Communicating with the College 

Staff will be contactable via email if pupils or parents/carers have any questions or require any help or support. Please note that if the member of staff is unwell they may not be able to reply in a timely way. 

  • You can also contact the College using Reception@garthhillcollege.com 
  • If you require any support with IT issues, please email at helpdesk@garthhillcollege.com. 

Free School Meals 

Any pupil currently entitled to Free School Meals will continue to receive this benefit throughout the duration of the school closure. If your child is one of the identified group of pupils attending College from Monday 23 March 2020, he/she will be provided with a free school meal as normal. If your child is not in College for whatever reason, we will provide you with Tesco vouchers. These will be in the form of e-vouchers, which will be sent to you via email. If you do not have access to an email facility, we will provide a paper voucher for you. Further details regarding this, will be sent to you in a separate communication. 

Government Public Health Guidance 

The Government’s public health guidance on social distancing guidance will still apply. This means that if your son/daughter or anyone in your household has one or two symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), your son/daughter must not attend school and should stay at home for 14 days along with other members of the household. 

Symptoms are: 

  • new continuous cough (eg. dry and persistent, a continuous cough that does not stop throughout the day) and/or 
  • high temperature 

In addition, as per our communication on 18.03.20, any pupil/student who has an underlying medical condition as outlined in the Government guidance should not attend school for 12 weeks as part of these measures. The current guidance, including the full list of underlying medical conditions, can be found here: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Finally, we would like to express our best wishes and thoughts to everyone in the College community at this challenging time. We will endeavour to keep everyone posted with regular updates. We are still here for you and your child. Please do not hesitate to contact the College if you require any help or support. Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding. 

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 19 MARCH 2020

RE: Partial Opening on Friday 20 March for pupils in years 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 

As you are aware, the Government issued new guidance as part of the managed response to the Covid-19 virus on Monday 16 March. The guidance requires anyone with one or two symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) to stay at home for 14 days along with any other members of the household. 

This has resulted in an increasingly high level of staff absence as the week has progressed and there are not enough staff available to effectively supervise, safeguard and teach all pupils/students tomorrow, Friday 20 March. Reluctantly, we have had to make the decision to open only to pupils in years 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13. Pupils in years 9 and 10 will not be in college on Friday 20 March. 

As per our communication yesterday, Wednesday 18 March, work has been provided for pupils to complete at home. This work is on Class Charts. Pupils should log in remotely using their college username and password. There are also additional resources on the curriculum pages on the College’s website. If you or your child require any support with IT issues, please email at helpdesk@garthhillcollege.com. 

We will advise pupils in years 9 and 10 who will not be attending school from Monday 23 March, to empty lockers and take home exercise books and other belongings today. If there is a particular problem with taking home any belongings today, then please contact the College and we will arrange for you to collect any belongings tomorrow, Friday 20 March. 

We will send another communication to you in respect of the government’s announcement that schools in England will close at the end of Friday 20 March to all pupils except for: 

  • children of key workers 
  • children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) 
  • vulnerable children. 

The decision to close for pupils in year 9 and 10 on Friday 20 March has not been taken lightly and we fully appreciate and understand the inconvenience that may result. We have made every effort to continue to operate as normal for as long as possible. Please accept our apologies, but there is no other option available in the current circumstances. Thank you for your support and cooperation. 

COVID-19 UPDATE (School closure) - 18 MARCH 2020

You may be aware that the Government has announced today that schools in England will close at the end of Friday 20 March except for children of key workers, children with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and vulnerable children.

We will send a further communication tomorrow, Thursday 19 March, with more details of this announcement and the arrangements for all pupils from Monday 23 March.  The main college will be open to all pupils as normal on Thursday 19 March.

The Prime Minister also indicated that public examinations will not be taking place in May and June, but new arrangements are yet to be confirmed.

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 18 MARCH 2020

RE: COVID-19 - Work for Absent Pupils and Children with Underlying Conditions 

WORK FOR ABSENT PUPILS 

If your child is not attending school at present, work has been provided on Class Charts. Please ensure that your child regularly logs in and checks for updates on Class Charts. Pupils should log in remotely using their college username and password. There are also additional resources on the curriculum pages on the College’s website. Class Charts and the website are being updated regularly. If you cannot find what you need immediately, please keep checking. 

If you or your child require any support with IT issues, please email at helpdesk@garthhillcollege.com. 

CHILDREN WITH UNDERLYING CONDITIONS 

The Department for Education has confirmed that children with the underlying conditions outlined in the extract from the latest Government guidance below should not attend school for 12 weeks as part of these measures. Extract from the Government guidance as follows: 

We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. 

This group includes those who have: 

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis 
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure 
  • chronic kidney disease 
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis 
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy 
  • diabetes 
  • problems with their spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if they have had your spleen removed 
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy 
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above) 
  • those who are pregnant 

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If they are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact them with advice about the more stringent measures they should take in order to keep themselves and others safe. For now, they should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full. 

People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as: 

  • people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication 
  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy 
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment 
  • people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets) 
  • people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis) 

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 17 MARCH 2020

As you are aware, the Government has issued new guidance as part of the managed response to the Covid-19 virus. This means that if your son/daughter or anyone in your household has one or two symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), your son/daughter must not attend school and should stay at home for 14 days along with other members of the household. 

Symptoms are: 

  • new continuous cough (eg. dry and persistent, a continuous cough that does not stop throughout the day) and/or 
  • high temperature 

In addition, any pupil/student who has an underlying medical condition is advised to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. 

The new guidance, including the full list of underlying medical conditions, can be found here: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

If your son/daughter has symptoms of Covid-19 infection, however mild, they must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days from when their symptoms started, as well as any other siblings and family members in the household. Pupils/students who develop symptoms during the school day will be isolated, along with any siblings, whilst waiting for collection by their parent/carer. Parents/carers displaying any of the symptoms must refrain from coming to the College within the same timescale. 

We anticipate that pupil and staff absence is now likely to increase. Although plans are in place, arrangements for covering staff may become increasingly difficult to manage. The College will remain open unless otherwise directed to do so by Public Health England or the DfE. We will endeavour to operate normally as far as possible. Partial opening or closure may be considered if staffing levels risk compromising the safety and supervision of pupils. In that event, plans are in place to provide work for pupils/students via the College website, Class Charts and other online learning platforms. 

Taking account of the new Government guidance, as well as the impact on schools, we have carefully considered the cancellation of events and activities in the College calendar: 

  • Scheduled sports fixtures and other off-site events are cancelled. 
  • Assemblies are cancelled until further notice. 
  • Year 11 photographs on Friday 20 March are cancelled. 
  • Year 11 Sixth Form Taster Day on Friday 27 March is cancelled. 

It is expected that the year 9 Parents’ Evenings scheduled for 25.03.20 and 30.03.20 will not go ahead as normal. We are considering other ways in which we may be able to consult with those parents/carers. Detentions will continue as normal for the time being, but Principal’s Detention will be limited to 60 minutes with effect from Friday 19 March. 

Looking further ahead, we appreciate that pupils/students, parents and carers are concerned about the possible impact on public examinations in the Summer Term. Schools are waiting for guidance on this from the relevant authorities. 

We continue to remind students of the importance of good hygiene and regular hand washing throughout the day, after toilet and before and after break and lunch; to cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Our cleaning contractor, BIRKIN, are paying closer attention to high-risk contact surfaces over and above the normal daily cleaning routine. 

Thank you for your support and cooperation at this time. We anticipate receiving further updates and guidance from the Government, the DfE and the Local Authority and we will continue to keep parents/carers informed as and when we receive further information. 

 

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 16 MARCH 2020

The Government has updated advice in respect of Covid-19 on Monday 16 March.  Schools remain open, but the Prime Minister announced that if one person in any household starts to display symptoms, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.  This is a change from previous guidance issued on Thursday 12 March.

If your son/daughter or anyone in your household has one or two symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), your son/daughter must not attend school and should stay at home for 14 days along with other members of the household.  Symptoms are:

  • new continuous cough (eg. dry and persistent, a continuous cough that does not stop throughout the day) and/or
  • high temperature.

We anticipate receiving further guidance on this tomorrow and will update parents in due course. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 12 MARCH 2020

The latest Government advice on Covid-19 issued on 12 March can be found here:

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

Schools remain open.  However, in line with this guidance, if your son/daughter contracts a new continuous cough and/or has a high temperature (37.8+) they should not attend school and stay at home.  Government advice has also been issued against foreign school trips.  We will issue more detailed communication on this and the new advice tomorrow. 

Thank you for your support and cooperation.

COVID-19 GUIDANCE - 11 MARCH 2020

RE: COVID-19 PLANNING 

I am writing to update you on the steps we are taking in response to COVID-19. COVID-19 is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020. It is understood that the incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. The symptoms of coronavirus are: 

  • a cough 
  • a high temperature 
  • shortness of breath 

These symptoms do not necessarily mean an individual has COVID-19 as they are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. Our advice is that if you are worried about your symptoms or those of your son or daughter; please call NHS 111 for advice and guidance. 

Like other schools, Garth Hill College follows the advice of Public Health England and the Department of Education. Our safety plan includes the following information: 

Day to Day Safe Practice 

We have reminded everyone of the importance of good hygiene and regular hand washing (using soap and water or alcohol sanitiser) throughout the day; to cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue; avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. We have used DfE materials and there are posters displayed around the College. 

Do: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze 
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use a high percentage alcohol based sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available 
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell 

Don't: 

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean 

In tutorial sessions this week, students have been given further information on the virus and advice on good hygiene. 

Soap dispensers are refilled regularly and monitored during the day to ensure that there is a plentiful supply. All cleaning protocols are completed under the advice of Public Health England. Our cleaning contractor, BIRKIN, are paying closer attention to high-risk contact surfaces over and above the normal daily cleaning routine. 

The school has a well-understood protocol that would be used if it were to be the case that a student, member of staff or any other person on the school site displays symptoms whilst at school. 

Current advice does not advocate closing the school unless directed to do so by NHS England. However, you will be aware from the news that the Government are planning for a range of future scenarios, one of which includes the possibility of temporary school closures. In this event we will communicate with you via email/text message. We will also provide updates via our website and social media channels. 

Study at Home and Remote Learning 

In the event of school closures, we have plans to allow students to continue to learn at home using Class Charts and other online learning platforms. Resources will also be made available on the subject curriculum pages of the College’s website, including resources to support year 11, 12 and 13 students in their final preparations for public examination. This is a good opportunity to check that you and your child have access to Class Charts. 

Public Examinations 

The most current update from OFQUAL is clear that the exam season remains secure and we, therefore, continue to prepare our students in year 11, 12 and 13 for their GCSEs and A levels as normal. 

Educational Trips and Visits 

We will adhere to all Foreign Office (FCO) and DfE advice. This will ensure that insurances are valid and refunds are payable when necessary. Current guidance advises that foreign travel should go ahead as planned if it is not to a Category one or two country - please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus. Please note if a parent or carer withdraws their child from a trip that is not cancelled, a refund may not be possible. 

Staff Absence 

In the event of high staff absence, we will remain open as far as possible. Partial opening, prioritising examination classes and year groups, may be considered as a last resort. 

Well Being 

We are conscious that some people may become worried about COVID- 19. We will endeavour to reassure everyone and maintain calm. Current advice is clear that students should attend school and there is no requirement to self-isolate unless under the conditions set out by Public Health England. 

Further Advice 

The situation is likely to develop on a daily basis. The following websites provide further guidance and advice: 

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan 

If you have a specific concern please contact the College’s Main Reception. We would also like to remind you of the DfE helpline: 

Phone: 0800 046 8687 

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) 

Finally, please note the updated guidance (10.03.20) in relation to travellers returning from Italy: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas/covid-19-specified-countries-and-areas-with-implications-for-returning-travellers-or-visitors-arriving-in-the-uk

The change for Italy applies to travellers who returned from ANY PART OF ITALY on or after 9 March 2020. Travellers should immediately self-isolate, even if asymptomatic, and use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. 

Travellers who returned from areas of northern Italy that were under containment measures (See map https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/871179/Map_showing_specified_areas_of_Italy_080320.pdf ) between 19 February and 8 March 2020 should self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms, they should contact NHS111. 

Travellers who returned from the rest of Italy before 9 March 2020 do not need to undertake any special measures, but if they develop symptoms they should self-isolate and call NHS 111. Not all family members need to isolate when someone has travelled to Italy. This will be advised on a case by case basis by NHS 111 when they take a full history of the case. At the current time, unless advised by 111 or Public Health to the contrary, other household members can attend their place of work or education. This advice can change though depending on individual circumstances of a subsequent Covid-19 test result emerges. Further information on self isolation can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/ 

Yours faithfully 

Keith Grainger 

Principal 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE - 3 MARCH 2020

Garth Hill College is continuing to monitor the developments of the COVID-19 virus and are working closely with the local authority to ensure the safety of all pupils and staff. The Department of Education have advised that no school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.

You may be aware there has recently been a case of COVID-19 in a staff member at Willow Bank Infant School in Woodley, which is in Wokingham Borough Council’s area. No schools in Bracknell have reported any cases of COVID-19.

In addition to Willow Bank Infant and Junior schools, Aldryngton Primary School in Earley and Great Hollands Primary School in Bracknell have closed in order to carry out a deep clean. This is purely a precautionary measure. There is no indication that either site poses any risk to pupils or staff.

Please see below further guidance from Public Health, England.

There are simple things you can do to help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading:
Do:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don't:

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Please encourage all members of the college community to abide by the above, either by washing their hands or using hand sanitiser. Please do bring in hand sanitiser if possible and use it regularly throughout the day.

If you become unwell after being exposed to COVID-19 (either through travel to a high risk area or direct contact) then please call NHS 111 (or 999 in an emergency). Whilst awaiting advice, inform the College and isolate the person to be at least two metres away from other people.

The Department of Education have launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)