Headteachers update on Coronavirus - letter dated 17th March 2020

Tuesday 17th March 2020            


Operational guidance for ever changing situations like coronavirus.

Information for parents and carers plus information from Public Health England

with links to websites for updates


Dear Parents/Carers,


In light of increasing concerns relating to Coronavirus, I am writing to inform you of some of the measures we will be taking in order to minimise infection and also to alert you to the potential measures we may need to take in the event of staff absences due to self-isolation or actual illness. 


School Closure

Current guidance for schools is to remain open.  We will take all practical measures available to us to enable this to happen.  However, this will become very difficult to achieve if we see a further increase in the number of staff absent from school. As a relatively small staff team, absences could have a very high impact on the ability of the school to remain open, as this will involve the correct ratio to staff per pupil in the classroom as well as our cleaning and catering staff also coming under the vulnerable category.


We will aim to secure the services of supply teachers, part-time staff members who may be able to work additional days to cover absent colleagues, and will also deploy our very experienced LSA support staff to help cover classes.  Unfortunately, this term already, supply agencies have been unable to provide teachers to cover staff absences, which means that we are not easily able to cover classes in this way.


Some of the other strategies available to us (for example combining classes) will mean that classes may need to come off their normal timetable to engage in other activities and tasks.  In circumstances such as these, learning ‘as usual’ will not continue in the same form as it would have done as we aim to provide activities more suited to larger numbers of children being supervised by a smaller number of staff. 


In the event of very high levels of staff absence, meaning that we cannot guarantee the safe supervision and care of pupils, I may have to consider the following measures:

  • School closed to some year groups so that remaining staff are able to safely supervise children remaining on site;
  • Whole School closure in the event of extreme staff absence.

We would hope to give parents as much notice as possible in these circumstances.  However, please be aware that we may only be able to make this decision in the morning following staff notifications of absence and a risk assessment in relation to the safety of pupils. We will aim to inform all parents by 08:00 if the school is closed via text message to the main priority mobile number.



Government Directed School Closure

Staff are currently preparing work (paper based and online) in the event of a government directed school closure.  If schools are required to close, we will write to you to give you further details of this work and ideas for online learning/websites.



If we have a high level of staff absence, this could also affect lunchtime arrangements and we may not have safe supervision levels during the lunch break.  Therefore it may be necessary to shorten the lunch break to half an hour for all children and staff and to have separate, staggered lunch breaks for KS1 and KS2. 


Office Team and Communications

We currently have a fully staffed office team. If staff are absent, it may be the case that we can only open the school office at specific times of the day.  We will contact parents if we need to do this.  In the meantime, please could we also ask parents to only come in to the school office in person for urgent matters and to telephone/email for all other enquiries. Thank you.


Planned School Events

Please note that I have made the decision that the following whole school events will not be taking place this term:


  • Parent Consultations are cancelled, I am liaising with staff for School reports to go out instead of face-to-face meetings.  If there are any urgent concerns with the reports please telephone the school, but please bear in mind a lot of our staff are currently off site so we will manage your queries as best we can.
  • All school clubs are cancelled.
  • Whole School end of term Easter Service and the Messy Mothering Sunday service at St John’s Church.
  • All swimming cancelled until further notice.
  • All school trips cancelled until further notice.
  • The ‘Listen to Me’ concert for parents on the 27th March is cancelled.
  • No Whole school Worship time from tomorrow.
  • Language day is cancelled – school uniform as usual.
  • Year 6 trip to Idsworth on the 30th March is cancelled.
  • All Governors meetings will take place via video conferencing until further notice.
  • PTA events will not be held onsite and the latest disco is postponed.
  • ELSA support will resume when Mrs Holland returns to school.
    *Please note Residential trips will be reviewed after Easter. 
    *If you have any queries concerning wrap-around-care please contact Activ8 directly.
    *Music lessons are still taking place until we are advised differently from Hampshire Music Service.
    These measures are not only to help prevent spread of coronavirus where possible, but also due to the possibility that a large number of staff may be absent in the future.
    Pupils who may be Unwell
    We do have very vulnerable members of our school community for whom contracting Covid-19 (Coronavirus) would be a significant risk.
    Please follow the current advice regarding when pupils/parents need to self-isolate and stay at home
    Full guidance:
    Please note that we will contact parents of any pupils at school who have either of the listed symptoms so that they can be collected from school immediately.  Pupils will remain in isolation at school until parents arrive at school and will not be allowed re-entry to school during the recommended period.
    Good Hygiene Practice, Further Advice and Guidance
    Please see the attached link for all the advice and guidance from the Department for Education for schools
    May we also remain you that the Department for Education have a coronavirus helpline which is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Parents can contact this helpline as follows:
    Phone: 0800 046 8687 - Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday).  Please note, that the DfE are currently experiencing high volumes of calls and apologise for any wait that you may experience.
    Family Members
    Parents or carers should not come to the school to drop off, or collect, their child if they are unwell. If someone else is sent to collect a child, the parent or carer must let the school know if it is someone different. This is a requirement of our safeguarding policy.
    The latest advice has also said that if anyone in your household has any symptoms your child should stay off school for the recommended 14 days.
    As I am sure you will appreciate, ensuring we remain open and able to safely supervise and care for all children is a challenging task given the potential for high staff absence.  We are regularly checking current advice and guidance and will endeavour to provide as much notice as possible of any changes that may affect you.  However short notice is likely under the current circumstances.
    Thank you for your support in this difficult time.
    Yours sincerely
    Mrs J Pavitt
NEW YEAR R APPLICATION SEPTEMBER 2021 If you are considering applying for a year R place at Rowlands Castle St. Johns for September 2021, please contact the school office for a virtual tour.