To all parents, staff and students of Kingsbridge Community College. Information on the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus.
I am writing to you to keep you fully informed of our response to coronavirus, the advice we have received, the actions we are taking and how we will keep you further updated as the advice from Public Health England changes. These situations can be worrying, so we are accessing as much information and advice as we can in order to make the right decisions in the best interests of our students, staff and community.
Our situation Over half-term, a KCC ski trip was in Italy. They were in Fieneve Valley, Italy, which is not in, or near, the Italian towns which are currently in lockdown. The area is a category 2 designation which is subject to specific advice from Public Health England. We are receiving regular updates from the Department for Education on the action which is to be taken by schools in our situation, and we have been in frequent phone contact since Monday with Public Heath England to check that we are taking all the recommended actions. We are following these recommendations to the letter in order to safeguard our students and staff, and so that we are playing our part in supporting the national effort to contain the spread of the virus.
The advice from Public Health England and Department for Education How is the infection passed? 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). The Coronavirus can only live outside of the body for two minutes.
What are the symptoms?
There are three symptoms which are a fever, a cough or a shortness of breath. You do not need to have all three symptoms to be regarded as symptomatic.
What should schools do about students and staff who have returned from designated areas? People who have returned from Category 2 specified countries/areas in the last 14 days, are advised to continue with their everyday life. They are only advised to stay at home and self-isolate if they develop symptoms. Pupils, students and staff should continue to attend school or university, including their siblings attending the same or a different school
What if any of those people develop symptoms that are associated with the virus?
Public Health England say that the person should contact NHS 111 for advice. They should do this rather than visiting a GP. Whilst awaiting that advice, the person should stay at least 2 metres away from others, preferably in a room on their own with an open window. In an emergency they should contact 999 as usual. The advice may be to be tested for the virus, in which case the person should remain out of contact with others until the results are returned. At the time of writing, 6,795 people in England have been tested, with 13 showing positive.
What action should schools take if a member of staff or student has symptoms?
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. Public Health England have confirmed at the time of writing that no school has been instructed by them to close. Any school that has taken the decision to close has done so under their own volition.
What if that person tests positive for the virus?
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.
So, what does this mean for KCC? We have been proactive in taking precautionary measures. Two members of staff are currently not at college because they were in Italy over half-term (one on the ski-trip, one not) and are awaiting the results of a precautionary test. Two students on the ski-trip are also at home awaiting test results.
The advice from Public Health England and Department for Education is categoric in stating that it is not necessary to close the school in response. We do think it is sensible to increase our normal cleaning regime in order to support national efforts to contain the virus and stop it spreading, so that is what our cleaning teams are doing with immediate effect. We will continue to be vigilant, respond rapidly to any signs of symptoms, and review our response in the light of any changing advice.
I am acutely aware of the conjecture and speculation that is currently visible on social media. Please be rest assured that in between published communications we are in constant contact with the health experts that are the only body that can advise us at this time.
With best wishes.
Tina Graham Principal