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Coronavirus Update 13 March 2020

13 March 2020
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Dear Colleague,

Further to the email sent this morning, I thought I would send through some advice following today’s enquiries and to update you on support we will be developing over the next few days.  

You will of course have read the advice on self-isolation I sent through this morning.  It is very important that you ensure that your staff and parents are clear about the advice regarding self-isolation and what it means, such as staying at home and as far as possible staying away from family members and in separate rooms.  The advice is to self-isolate if you display any one of more of the symptoms which are:

  • New continuous cough
  • High temperature
  • Shortness of breath – likely to follow after the first 2 symptoms.

Please note that the advice is for a ‘new’ cough.  I appreciate this will be difficult to assess but it is important to remind staff that many other viruses are still circulating at this time of year.

The self-isolation period is for 7 days unless symptoms worsen, in which case the individual should call NHS 111.

It is not necessary for other family members or siblings to self-isolate unless they too are displaying symptoms, but you may want to be more vigilant with siblings who are in school in terms of looking out for symptoms.  You will need to keep a log of all pupils as the self-isolation period is for 7 days.  Please use the ‘y’ code to log all these pupils absences and make plans with the families for the pupils to return after 7 days.

One headteacher has contacted the DfE Helpline today and received the following advice.  I have not seen this formally but thought it would be helpful to send this through.

  • if any child or staff member has all 3 i.e. cough, fever and shortness of breath the class should be sent home (only that class) the classroom cleaned and then they return the next day (unless have symptoms). Must be all 3.
  • if it is more than one class then it is at the Head's discretion if you close for a clean of the whole school.

I will aim to verify this next week but as it has come from the DfE helpline, use this if you need to.

In terms of staff self-isolation, at this stage we would advise you to request that your staff notify you at the earliest opportunity at the start of the day, and you may want to consider the system for doing this.  this will enable you to have coordinate the day should you have more than 1 member of staff off.  Some schools are looking at their contingency arrangements if staff absence is high.  We will be putting together some clearer advice about this early next week, so all heads have options to consider in terms of your school context.  It is important you try to remain open as much as possible, but I appreciate the ongoing difficulty of doing this.

If you or a senior member of your school need to self-isolate due to the symptoms, I will send a letter template through to you on Monday for your Chair of Governors to use.  You will want to think through your business continuity arrangements if that is the case with your senior leaders and governors.

We have had a query today about pupils returning from overseas trips.  That school decided to ask all pupils and staff to self-isolate for 7 days as a precautionary measure to reduce whole school parental anxiety. You may want to follow this.  Of course all upcoming overseas trips  are to be cancelled

Some schools have taken the decision to reduce visitors to the schools. That is your decision but please remember that the law has not changed and some visitors have a legal right to visit pupils (social workers, therapists, school nurses etc ) so please be pragmatic and consider only non-essential visitors at this time.

We will be pulling together FAQ’s in order that we can share information about the enquiries we are receiving. This will come through next week and we will send ongoing updates a few times a week.

Finally, please make sure you have sufficient supplies of soap and cleaning products

We have received a high volume of enquires today and some of you may not have had a response - I would like to apologise for this, we will get back to you as soon as we are able to.

Thank you very much, it is a challenging time for everyone, please do take some time to rest this weekend

With Best Wishes,


Clare Kershaw