4 November 2020
As you know the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a national lockdown, coming into effect from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November until at least Wednesday 2 December. The Prime Minister has said that schools, colleges and universities will remain open during this period. We expect to be given new guidance in the next few days from the government on the implications for schools of this lockdown and I will inform you of any changes that will impact on our current procedures. Until then, College activities continue as they did before half-term.
Given the changing national and local situation we are taking the pragmatic step of revisiting our contingency plans regarding partial lockdowns for specific year groups in the future if they are required. We obviously want to remain open for all students however we do not know what the government may do if the Coronavirus statistics continue to worsen or if staff absence makes it impossible for the College to fully operate safely.
We continue to follow government guidance that face coverings are strongly recommended in corridors, communal areas and on transport.
If government restrictions increase in the local area to Covid alert level high or very high, then the guidance would change to the mandatory wearing of face coverings in corridors, communal areas and on College transport. It is possible that new guidance might also mean compulsory face coverings in classrooms. We await an update.
For now, can I ask that your sons or daughters are prepared for such a change and have face coverings available to wear.
With the recent change in the weather bringing much colder temperatures, and the need to ensure adequate ventilation in our classrooms due to the Coronavirus, I wanted to confirm to you that staff are taking a much more flexible approach to outdoor coats being worn in lessons. If the member of staff decides that conditions warrant it, then they will inform students that they can keep their coats on during the lesson. This seems eminently sensible given the circumstances. I would also recommend that students wear appropriate layers to help keep them warm.
Obviously, the College has adequate heating throughout all buildings, however the current guidance on ensuring consistently good ventilation in all areas makes this action a sensible one.
Important information: COVID-19 Symptoms, Self-isolation and Attendance at College
It is especially important at the current time that all students, parents and staff take the correct action when they or someone they live with develops symptoms. Please read the information below and ensure that students and their family members self-isolate in line with NHS guidance.
The three main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
1. A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
2. A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
3. A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
If someone in your household develops one or more of the symptoms above, however mild, you must follow the guidance on self-isolation below.
You do not need to self-isolate if you have a sore throat unless you also have one or more of the three main COVID-19 symptoms.
If Someone in Your Household Develops Symptoms
If anyone in your household shows any of the three main symptoms of COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 10 days after symptoms start. All other members of the household must self-isolate for 14 days from the same date. Students who are self-isolating must not be sent to College. You should arrange a test for anyone who has symptoms. Anyone in the household without symptoms does not require a test but must continue to self-isolate.
If symptomatic individuals receive a negative test result, you may be able to stop self-isolating but if you cannot arrange a test, everyone in the household must continue to self-isolate for the full 10/14-day period, even if symptoms have stopped.
Ensuring that symptomatic individuals and those that have been in close contact with them do not come into College is essential. It is vitally important that households self-isolate for 14 days unless a negative test result is received.
If a student develops symptoms in College, they (and any siblings at the College who live at the same address) will be sent home and expected to self-isolate with their household.
It is our understanding that testing is more readily available than it was earlier in the term. However, if you are not able to book a test online or by calling 119, please contact the College. We have a limited supply of home test kits that can be made available in exceptional circumstances.
The Surrey Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team - Knife Arch and Drugs Dog Operation
Included in this week's newsletter (Page 13) is a letter from the Surrey Heath Safer Neighbourhood Team who are working in partnership with Surrey schools to arrange a knife arch and drugs dog operation. This partnership event will take place in each Surrey Heath Secondary School during the Week beginning Monday 9 November 2020. Please note the comment from Detective Inspector Alick James (Surrey Heath Borough Commander) that ‘this activity is not driven by a particular prevalence of knives in the schools of Surrey Heath nor are we targeting one school. This activity is taking place at all secondary schools and its purpose is to reduce the fear of crime and educate about the dangers of carrying knives to keep all children safe.’
Mr Tanner - Principal