It is always difficult to know when to share and how much information to share with families. Following a couple of people contacting me this week I felt now was the time to update you with school's response and preparations to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
The government's action plan was launched on Tuesday and can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
As a school I receive daily updates from the DfE and Public Health England and we are following all of their advice and taking the situation seriously. I have attached a detailed document for families to read with specific Welcombe Hills information in green.
The best way for us to prevent further cases of infection is by following the advice for returning travellers, making sure we all wash our hands regularly with soap and water, and to follow the Catch It, Bin It, Kill it strategy for coughs and sneezes.
The Department for Education now have a coronavirus helpline available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Guidance on COVID-19 in educational settings can also be found at:
In this time of uncertainty I feel that being cautious is probably the best route for the whole school community. We sent home a couple of students on Monday as they had raised temperatures. I understand that there are normal variations and several factors including the time of day that can affect someone's temperature. However at present we will be sending pupils home and we will be requesting that they do not return to school until their temperature is reduced for 24 hours.
Please could I ask families to consider taking their child/young person's temperature before school and keep them at home if their oral temperature is above 37.5 C and/or their Ear/Forehead temperature is above 38 C.
If any families have any further questions, suggestions or would like to discuss this matter with me, please do not hesitate to contact me.
This information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19 any school specific information is written in green.
Information about the virus
A coronavirus 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.
The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it is unlikely that they have been infected.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- difficulty in breathing
Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. There is no evidence that children are more affected than other age groups – very few cases have been reported in children, but we very much recognise that we have vulnerable children and young people at Welcombe Hills School.
How COVID-19 is spread
From what we know about other coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (termed respiratory secretions) containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission.
There are 2 routes by which people could become infected:
- secretions can be directly transferred into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or could be inhaled into the lungs
- it is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface or object that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching a door knob or shaking hands then touching own face).
There is currently no good evidence that people who do not have symptoms are infectious to others.
Preventing spread of infection
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- washing your hands often - with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser if handwashing facilities are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport. School have a stock of both liquid hand wash and hand sanitiser in school. Hand sanitiser is available in reception at both Main site and The Hub.
- covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. Named as the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it strategy. School have a stock of both tissues and toilet paper in school. School also have a ‘Communicate in Print’ poster version of this key message visible around school.
- people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work or any education or childcare setting. School now have a bank of regular supply staff who we are able to call upon to ensure staffing levels are maintained. Staff who normally work part-time would be approached to work additional days if we require them to do so.
- pupils, students, staff and visitors should wash their hands: we have in school next week for two days an UV box and gel which demonstrates the importance of good hand washing to the pupils as it shows them on their hands where they have not washed them properly.
- before leaving home
- on arrival at school
- after using the toilet
- after breaks and sporting activities
- before food preparation
- before eating any food, including snacks
- before leaving school
- use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces as a special school we already have in place a thorough cleaning regime.
- if you are worried about your symptoms or those of a child or colleague, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment
Face masks for the general public, pupils or students, or staff are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.
What to do if children, pupils, students or staff become unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 (either through travel to a specified country or area or contact with a confirmed case)
The advice is to call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk), and if appropriate, explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days. We have identified a designated isolation space at both main site and The Hub where anyone who becomes unwell and we believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 would be placed whilst we awaited advice from NHS 111 or for an ambulance to arrive.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil, student or staff) is suspected in your childcare or education setting
If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or educational setting, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID-19 are awaited. There is no need to close the setting or send other learners or staff home. Once the results arrive, those who test negative for COVID-19 will be advised individually about return to education. School would however as an additional precaution inform the families of our medically vulnerable pupils if this situation was to arise.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (pupil, student or staff) is confirmed in your childcare or education setting
The childcare or educational setting will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. An assessment of each childcare or education setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with relevant staff. Advice on the management of pupils or students and staff will be based on this assessment. If there is a confirmed case, a risk assessment will be undertaken by the educational establishment with advice from the local Health Protection Team. In most cases, closure of the childcare or education setting will be unnecessary but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and pupil mixing. We have currently had no confirmed cases.
What to do if pupils, students or staff in your institution are contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 who was symptomatic while attending your childcare or educational setting
The definition of a contact includes:
- 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 setting such as boarding school dormitory or other student accommodation
Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others, however:
- they will be asked to self-isolate at home, for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet.
- they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
- if they develop any symptoms within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for assessment
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
- if they require emergency medical attention, call 999 and tell the call handler or ambulance control that the person has a history of potential contact with COVID-19
- if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection
Family and friends who have not had close contact (as listed above) with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities such as attending childcare or educational settings or work, unless they become unwell. If they become unwell, they should call NHS 111 and explain their symptoms and discuss any known contact with the case to consider if they need further assessment.
If a confirmed case occurs in an educational setting the local Health Protection Team will provide advice and will work with the Head Teacher. We have currently had no contacts of a confirmed case.
What to do if pupils, students or staff in your childcare or educational setting have travelled from any Category 1 specified country/area in the past 14 days
We had no members of staff returning from the Governments Category 1 specified countries/areas following the February half-term holiday and no pupils that we are aware of.
What to do if a pupil, student or staff member has travelled from a Category 2 specified country/area in the last 14 days
We had 2 members of staff who returned from a Category 2 country/area, neither have developed any symptoms within the last 14 days but as an additional precaution they have not supported any of our classes where we have students with medical needs.
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is now available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Updates on COVID-19: