*This letter was emailed to all Parents/Carers on Monday 16th March 2020*
I am writing to update you on our current planning in relation to Coronavirus. Much of this information has already appeared in the Newsletter and “Latest Information” page on our website, but I write to ensure maximum coverage.
This letter is to inform you of our contingency plans should there be a situation where we are forced to close to students or staff, or both. Clearly, we will do our utmost to avoid disruption to learning; particularly for students in Years 11 to 13 who are approaching their examinations in the summer. I am sure you will understand that these contingency plans may be subject to change, including sudden change as events unfold.
There are many scenarios which could occur, and I have tried to summarise them.
Scenario A. Instruction to close the whole school for a short, limited period.
Our approach in the event of closures will be to keep it as simple and accessible as we can. In terms of learning, we will primarily use e-mail to students’ school accounts. Teachers will send work according to the students’ normal timetable; not literally on the hour every hour, but on the day. However, this will also depend on the health status of the teacher and their own childcare arrangements. (This will also apply to Scenario D.)
To communicate with a member of staff, we are encouraging the use of e-mail in the first instance; it is possible to phone and leave a voicemail, which will then be sent to the member of staff as an email. If your child displays symptoms of coronavirus (fever and/or new continuous cough), please advise Student Absence.
Scenario B. Infection affects a member of our community and a case is suspected or confirmed.
We would have to follow direct guidance from Public Health England. At present, the standard advice is that students and staff can attend school if they are free of coronavirus symptoms (fever, and/or new continuous cough). We would inform parents and carers of this via our normal messaging system and post this on our website in the “Latest News” section on the home page. In fact, we have been notified of one suspected case in Year 11, and the PHE advice is that we should remain open.
Scenario C. High levels of staff illness/absence, making it impossible to staff all classes.
We can cope with a certain level of staff absence as we do for extreme weather conditions. If, however, the levels of absence became too high, we would adopt a partial closure. Which Year Groups would be affected would depend on staffing levels, but we would prioritise keeping lessons running for Years 10-13. Again, we would inform parents and carers of this via our normal messaging systems and post this on our website in the “Latest News” section on the home page.
If staff absence is so high that students cannot be supervised safely, I may be obliged to close the College to all students. I realise that this would be inconvenient to parents, as it would be on a day-by-day basis, and is something I would like to avoid if at all possible, but it could happen.
Scenario D. Instruction to close for an extended period of time.
At present, this is not the government’s preferred course of action, and there have been repeated messages that schools should stay open. However, it is a possibility. I would anticipate national guidance if this scenario happens, as there would be an impact on GCSE, A-Level and other exams in May and June. The method of sustaining learning described in Scenario A would still apply.
Setting work for absent students if the College is open.
Regrettably, this cannot be guaranteed. Again, it will depend on the levels and particular distribution of staff absence. Teachers will be in school, teaching their own lessons, possibly covering additional lessons, and possibly also setting work for other classes. Where possible, teachers will try to support students, especially in exam years, but it is not reasonable to expect them to send home work for individual students as well. On our website we have published a list of on-line learning sites which students may access (Curriculum tab, “Independent Study Links”).
How can I support my child if there is a closure?
- Please make sure you are familiar with our methods of communication and are checking them regularly for updates.
- If possible, bearing in mind parental work demands, plan routines that would mirror a school day for your child, such as focussed learning time/activities and breaks in approximation of our daily structure.
- Check that your child is able to access their Clyst Vale e-mail and know their password details. If you require IT support during this time you can contact the IT Support Team on
We are in unchartered territory which is rapidly changing. The above information can therefore only be a series of “best guesses”. Our first priority is student safety, secondly to educate. We will strive to do both, however the situation unfolds, adhering to national advice and instruction.
I feel that I should also mention that my colleagues have anxieties and concerns of their own about the present situation, too. Some colleagues have health conditions, some have elderly or vulnerable relatives, many have children of their own (and could be affected by their own children’s school closing). I am immensely proud of my colleagues, who, as I say, will do their very best; however, at times, they may simply not be able to do this.
Kevin Bawn (Dr.)