We continue to take daily advice and guidance from the Department of Education and Public Health England, who are publishing updated guidance on their page every day at 2pm until further notice. For specific cases, where students are showing any symptoms or in relation to visits and exchanges, we are taking direct advice on a case by case basis. The situation is changing daily and we will aim to continue to update parents regularly on any developments which affect our school. We are grateful to our Medical Support Officer and our International Office staff for their dedication in ensuring we are constantly updated with changing circumstances.
We continue to advise our staff and students to wash their hands with soap and water, use alcohol sanitizers and cover any coughs or sneezes with a tissue, throwing this away properly in the bin. People who feel unwell and have any possible symptoms should stay at home. If you are worried about symptoms you should call NHS 111 or the DfE Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 0468687 and not attend your GP surgery or any healthcare environment.
Face masks for students and staff are not recommended to protect from infection as there is no evidence of benefit.
Students or staff who have returned from Category 1 specified countries will be advised to self-isolate. People returning from Category 2 countries are advised to stay at home if they develop symptoms.
All other staff and students should continue to attend school. The latest advice and guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
Update on Visits and Exchanges:
1. We took the decision to return the Long Term exchange students who were already in Girona. This is because we were informed that a student at the school had tested positive for the virus. Public Health England advised the students could stay in Spain and follow the guidance on hygiene awareness. The partner school remains open and all activities are continuing there. However, with the support of parents, we took the precautionary measure of repatriating them. No students have had direct contact with the student concerned and in line with the advice, they have returned safely to the UK and will return to school, with close monitoring by parents and staff. If students develop any possible symptoms they should self-isolate and follow the guidance above.
2. For the same reason, the school took the decision to postpone the Year 10 exchange to Girona. We are looking for alternative dates to run this exchange later in the year. At present, the Girona students still intend to travel to us in May, unless the situation changes.
3. The French authorities have issued guidance to their schools to prevent students travelling on visits and exchanges. Therefore, in-coming visits from Dinan, Lyon (long term) and Avignon to Ingatestone have cancelled their plans for the home leg.
4. We are in contact with the Headteacher of our exchange school in Lyon to ascertain whether this exchange visit is still viable and hope to have their decision within the next 24 hours.
5. The Paris Work Experience visit has been postponed by our partner school in Paris. We are investigating the possibility of alternative dates later in the year.
Where visits are postponed or cancelled, yet restrictions have not been put in place by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we will do our utmost to recover as much finance as we can or to rebook flights and visits for a later date to avoid losing these funds. Given the unprecedented demands on airlines and insurance companies, we are expecting this to be a considerable job for our International Office and we would ask for your patience in this matter. We will update you on any developments as they occur.
All other visits and exchanges are currently going ahead unless we receive further advice and guidance that these are not possible. The International Office are in regular contact with Headteachers in our partner schools so that we have the latest advice and guidance in the area of travel. Next week, Madrid and Frankfurt Work Experience for L6, Russia for L6 and Heidelberg for Year 10 are all currently going ahead. The Belsen 7Project, which leaves on Sunday 15th March is also going ahead.
We understand if parents take the decision to withdraw students from the visits if they are concerned about future developments. We just need to make it clear that money committed may not be refunded if this happens before the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deem this necessary.
We are taking continuous advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, our insurance company and the Department for Education. All of the advice we have received thus far indicates educational visits should continue as usual unless there is restriction on travel to these areas. Should this change, of course we will keep you updated but our intention is to continue to deliver our programme as scheduled and to continue to ensure an excellent educational experience for all of our students, where advice and guidance allows.