Dear Parents and carers,
I would like to update you on the advice we have been given on the Coronavirus, following the Government's latest review of the situation across the UK, including confirmed cases in several Hampshire primary and secondary schools, as well as schools and sixth forms.
The Government has confirmed that it's response to the virus remains in the "contain" phase - the first phase. We, at Nightingale Primary School, need to work closely with you, as parents, to stress the importance of basic hygiene to children. We need your help to emphasise the importance of the following, which we will be discussing with each class:
- Wash hands using soap and hot water several times each day, including after going to the toilet and before eating meals.
- Cover their face, ideally with a tissue, as they sneeze or cough. If they do not have a tissue, sneeze or cough into their elbow; never onto their hands which they will need to use to open doors.
- Avoid touching their face, especially their eyes or mouth with their hands.
- Avoid other people's bare skin, including handshakes. Elbow bumps seem to be the most popular alternative!
- Avoid sharing water bottles, cups, eating utensils and, indeed, food.
- Carry tissues or toilet tissue in a pocket.
Our cleaning team will be continuing to frequently deep clean parts of the school that have a high usage from children, e.g. door handles.
It is not appropriate for children to come into school with face masks on. Public Health England's advice is that while these play an important role in clinical settings, there is little evidence of their effectiveness outside these settings. They can also create alarm and fear amongst children.
The guidance from Public Health England and the Department for Education is that schools should remain open, even when a case of Coronavirus has been diagnosed. Because several nearby schools and schools have confirmed cases of the virus, we now know the guidance that will be issued to Nightingale, should we have a confirmed case:
- The infected child or member of staff will not be in school, they will self-isolate for the recommend time.
- As a precautionary measure, a large number of other children and staff will be tested: those who have had close contact with the infected person.
- A further deep clean of the school would take place.
- Precautionary measures would be put in place for children and staff that have a known health condition, which makes them especially vulnerable to the virus. We will not wait for the cases to be officially confirmed, before giving them as much advance notice of possible issues and will give them the opportunity to work away from school. Please be reassured that children who are advised not to attend school due to their existing medical conditions will not be penalised for their absence.
Given the developments of the past two weeks, it is possible that all schools will have cases of Coronavirus. Whilst we will be working hard on the preventative measures listed above, we will need to prepare children for the possibility that Nightingale will also have cases in the weeks ahead. It is important that we do so with a sense of proportion and perspective, based on facts and formal advice, without alarming children or making them unduly afraid.
I will continue to provide you with updates of any developments and thank you for your help and co-operation in keeping our children safe.