Corona-virus | Frequently Asked Questions

1.What guidance is the Ealing Council providing to school leaders on how to plan for COVID 19?

Ealing Council have reinforced the expectation that schools remain open and utilise guidance from Public Health England and the DfE website to minimise the spread of corona virus. Officers are providing advice on the operational issues being faced by all schools.

Headteachers have been reminded of the need to update their business continuity plans in the light of the current situation and to update the local authority on levels of staff and student absence.

2. What specific health and hygiene measures are currently in place to reduce the risk of infection for:

a. Pupils
b. Staff
c. Facilities (including catering)

The school has circulated reminders to pastoral teams to reinforce the guidance on handwashing and containing coughs and sneezes. Students are able to use handwashing facilities before and after schools as well as at break and lunchtimes. Students have also been encouraged to carry their own hand sanitiser where parents have found availability.

Staff have been made aware of the symptoms in order notice the early stages of infection themselves, in colleagues or students. Similar alerts have been sent to parents. The requirement to self-isolate in the case of showing symptoms or having direct contact with a confirmed case have been outlined to staff.

The school cleaning company has ensured its cleaners focus on the cleansing of desk surfaces, door handles and banisters in their daily clean. An all-day cleaner has been added to the team in each school. The site staff are ensuring that soaps dispensers are regularly refilled in the light of increased use.

The school caterers have increased their own hygiene checks.

3. Under what circumstances will the school be closed to pupils?

Schools have been instructed by the Government to stay open in order to minimise the disruption to other services & the wider community. The school will only consider closure if:

  • Staff absence reaches a critical level and the school cannot guarantee the Health and Safety of students
  • Short term closure is instructed by Public Health authorities to undertake appropriate checks / additional cleaning routines
  • Government guidance is changed

4. If schools are closed for several weeks are there plans in place to ensure students can continue to learn? How will the lack of classroom time be mitigated?

All lesson resources are currently available on the school’s Virtual Learning Environment (Copia). These will continue to form the core support for students to continue with their studies. Additional tasks / guidance will be uploaded onto Copia from w/b 23rd March to support students to work remotely. During w/b 16th March checks will be made to ensure students have remembered their login details for Copia and are able to use their school email account.Students who are required to self-isolate from w/b 16th March should use time at home to revise for their Q3 assessments which will be made available electronically once these have been sat by students in school. In Yrs 7 – 10 use will also be made of commercial learning packages which are self-marking (eg Heggarty Maths/My Maths). Further guidance will be issued on remote working from w/b 23rd March.

5. What is the plan for Yr 11 and Yr 13 pupils who are due to take exams?

Maintaining direct teaching for classes preparing from public exams will be the priority in the event of the school reducing its timetable / length of school day.In the case of public examination classes (eg Yrs 11 & Yr 13 + Twyford Yr 10 RE) the focus of work will be on revision and the completion of past papers. Where hard copies are required, these will be produced by the school and distributed to students as work packs during w/b 16th March. In many cases, resources will be on-line on Copia.Exemplars / and answer sheets will also be provided by staff.

The examination boards have not yet issued guidance on plans to modify the public examination schedule in the event of extended impact of the virus in May and June. Currently schools have been advised to proceed as normal with preparing students for A levels and GCSEs.

6. Are school staff monitoring students for signs of COVID 19?

All members of staff have been made aware of the main symptoms (high temperature and/or new & persistent dry cough) and will refer students to the welfare room in the case of concern. It is likely that parents will be called and asked to collect students and keep in touch with NHS 111 and keep the student in isolation at home as required.

7. If my child has been in contact with an infected person, how will you inform me?

NHS 111 guidance is no longer recommending testing from individuals with mild symptoms. A number of students and staff are currently self-isolating with symptoms but as yet there are no confirmed cases where symptoms have become severe.

Parents and staff continue to be advised to seek advice from NHS 111 in relation to the next steps if they show signs of symptoms or have contact with someone else who does.

Current guidance defines a contact as:

  • any pupil, student or staff member in close face-to-face or touching contact including those undertaking small group work (within 2 metres of the case for more than 15 minutes)
  • talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the individual is symptomatic.
  • anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids of the individual
  • close friendship groups
  • any pupil, student or staff member living in the same household as a confirmed case, or equivalent

The guidance is that contacts are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

8. How will any medical cases be followed up if pupils become infected?

The schools do not have in-house medical expertise. Welfare rooms are run by trained first aiders and they will be the first point of contact for any feedback / follow-up from the NHS.

9. What if my child has an underlying health condition which makes him/her higher risk?

Parents of students with underlying health conditions – particularly involving Diabetes, heart complaints or serious breathing difficulties – should seek individual medical advice in the current context in relation to managing risks.Any specific individual medical advice must be passed to the school welfare officer so that Individual Healthcare Plans can be updated. Parents may also make an informed decision to keep their child at home in cases of particular risk.In these very specific cases, this decision must be communicated to the school using the usual systems for reporting student absence.

10. Will all Trust schools have a “deep clean”?

Schools have a thorough clean after school every day. We have received detailed guidance on cleaning procedures in the event of a confirmed case within school.This may or may not require a temporary closure of the school depending on the circumstances and advice from NHS 111

11. Who will determine when it is safe to reopen schools should they have to close?

Decisions on closing and re-opening schools are subject to close guidance and advice from local public health authorities and central government.Currently the advice is that schools should not close. This situation is being closely monitored.

Ealing Secondary schools are sharing information on staff absence and arrangements for modifications to the school day as a means of maintaining day-to day operations with reduced staffing levels.

12. What is the likely timeline for school closures if they go ahead? How long will a closure last for?

It is not possible to predict this at this stage, particularly in the light of the clear Government guidance that schools remain open. The school has made contingency plans for a longer closure as the worst case scenario. These are centred on the use of remote working for students and staff (see above).

13. I understand that all overseas school trips have been cancelled up until Easter. Does this apply to trips inside the UK as well? What about concerts, theatre and sporting events? Will the insurers be covering the cost and will we receive refunds?

Currently only foreign trips up to May half term have been cancelled.The school’s insurance covers cancellation costs in full so parents will receive full refunds.

We will review UK trips, concerts and other events as the term progresses with a view to making a judgement at least 1 week ahead of the trip / visit or event. We will endeavour to minimise cancellation charges although this cannot be guaranteed as these trips are not covered by travel insurance. Currently all concerts and after school clubs between 16th March and the end of the Spring term have been cancelled or postponed.

14. What is the plan for school trips after Easter?

Foreign trips over Easter and between Easter and May half term have been cancelled. Activities Week trips will be reviewed at the end of April in the light of the context at this point.

The Trust’s overall risk assessment can be found here

An annexe to the behaviour policy summarising the behaviour expectations of students during the period of recovery from the Covid-19 epidemic can be found here

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