Newsletter- Coronavirus update: Potential school closure

Dear Parents 

You may have read, or heard about, various stories about school closures, in the last few days.

It was reported yesterday in a number of newspapers and online, that all schools in the UK have ‘been put on alert and told that they may have to extend the Easter holidays by closing on Friday March 20th.’  Again it was reported that ‘teachers have been told that they need to have home learning packs ready by today, Friday 13th March.’

As yet, I have had no official confirmation of these reports.

A statement from Jonathan Lewis, Service Director for Education at Cambridgeshire County Council said,  ‘There are currently no plans to close schools in Cambridgeshire due to coronavirus. Our position is very much based on national guidance from Public `health England and all schools should remain open.  We are planning how we support schools if the eventuality of closures arises and advising schools to review their business continuity plans.’ As Peterborough and Cambridgeshire now work together for Education, any announcements will apply to all schools in both authorities.

Given the escalating national situation, I would advise all parents to plan for the probability that the school may well be required to close at some point prior to this year’s Easter holiday which is due to start on Wednesday 1st April. 

There may also be a potential difficulty remaining open should staff, or members of their families they need to care for, especially their own children, start to show symptoms that may potentially relate to coronavirus.  The latest advice from the government is that individuals should self-isolate for 7 days if they have either a high temperature (37.8 degrees or above) and/or a new continuous cough. There may come a point, should a critical number of staff not be able to come into school, when I cannot guarantee the safety of our pupils and will, therefore, have no choice but to close.

Given the current national situation, it is also essential, if a child is away from school, that  parents keep us informed of why their child is not well enough to come to school. I am sure that everyone would do this as a matter of course, but clearly if one of the children are unfortunate enough to come down with coronavirus, this will also be a reason why we have to close the school, albeit, in all likelihood, on a temporary basis, whilst the building is deep cleaned.  If you or a member of your immediate family living in your home contracts the virus and needs to self-isolate, this would also be something we need to know, as this may have a ‘knock on’ effect for the school as well.

As we have now moved from the contain phase into the delay phase of this pandemic and the Chief Medical Officers have now raised the risk level for the UK from moderate to high, it is only logical to expect that further measures will be announced in the coming days designed to limit, as far as is possible, the spread of the infection.

As previously I urge you to consider your own childcare arrangements, should the school have no choice but to close.  I repeat again, that we will only close if we are directed to, or, if there are insufficient staff to guarantee the safety of the pupils at PHS.

Yours truly

Tim Howley