Monday 16 March
Update on COVID-19 & St. Andrew’s Grammar’s Preparations/Plans – Monday 16 March
Dear Parents & Caregivers,
I would like to address with you where things stand with our school and COVID-19. We have been, as a school following all directions from the Department of Health and the Department of Education. Until recently we were only required to request students who had travelled in China to self-isolate. We clearly followed this directive.
We are very conscious, as a school, not to jump on the band wagon of scare mongering. It is important to remember that up until yesterday there were only 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia, none of which could be linked to Dianella. We, as a school, are implementing best practice around hygiene. Therefore, I wanted to write to you on the following matters:
Health and Safety Education and Measures at School – Starting Monday 16 March:
We are reinforcing to both Primary and Secondary students the importance of washing hands and have made sure that soap is filled daily in toilets. It is important to note that soap is as, if not more effective, than hand sanitisers. In addition, this week we will be placing hand washing posters across the school and have directed all staff to educate students (at all year levels) on the importance of hand washing. This includes teaching Primary students to wash hands for the duration of singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. The point is, effective hand washing takes longer than usual. Students are also, daily, being reminded to cough into their elbows, not their hands.
Signage in the Reception area will remind visitors of their responsibilities regarding not entering if they have any symptoms or are at risk and will remind visitors that greetings will no longer be with handshakes.
All assemblies are cancelled until further notice and lunchtimes will be further staggered.
School Holiday Overseas Travel:
As we approach the Easter holidays, we ask that families carefully consider any overseas travel as COVID-19 spreads rapidly across the globe. School families and staff are urged not to travel overseas for holidays this April. This is the single, most effective thing we all can do to prevent further cases of COVID-19 being imported into Australia. In line with evolving advice from the Health Department and our duty of care to the School community, we ask that all school families and staff notify us of any upcoming plans to travel outside of Australia between now and the end of July 2020. This must be done directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important that all parents know and acknowledge Sunday 15 March announcement by Scott Morrison, stipulating 14-days mandatory isolation for ANY persons returning from ANY international travel.
Please note this list of countries may change at any time, including while you are overseas. Additionally, many countries are introducing new entry or movement restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, which may disrupt your travel plans. To keep up to date with the latest information and advice, we ask that you refer to the Smart Traveller and Australian Government Department of Health websites.
Current advice is that anyone returning from Mainland China, Iran, Italy or South Korea is required to isolate themselves for 14 days from their departure date from that country. The Australian Government also considers the following countries to be at moderate risk for COVID-19: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia (including Bali), Japan, Singapore and Thailand; however, this list may change at any time.
School Closures – Information from the Department of Education:
There are rumours circulating that WA schools will close, I want to assure you that at the time of writing there is no such message, however, we are dealing with a rapidly evolving situation. If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed within our community, we will seek direction from the appropriate Health and Department of Education authorities. If the School is required to temporarily suspend operations, we will be able to continue our education programs through online delivery with educational programs delivered remotely for the students. This week, we will be working with our staff this week developing a ‘Microsoft Teams’ online teaching approach to prepare our staff and students for the possible eventuality. This will be particularly important for our senior students to enable them to continue in line with the requirements for their courses. The following information has been provided by the Department of Education:
If a WA school has to close due to a confirmed case, it will be on advice from the WA Health Department’s Chief Health Officer. The Chief Health Officer may, if there has been a positive COVID-19 test result, close (the) school temporarily while assessment and tracing of exposure is conducted. A thorough school clean will then be carried out to make the school safe for the return of students and staff. In this situation the principal will receive direct advice and support regarding the closure process and communication materials from the Department of Education’s Coronavirus support team. Upon the school being notified, all families will be immediately contacted and provided with the relevant information.
It is therefore important that we have up-to-date contact details for your children, please notify the front office if these have changed.
Earlier, I wrote to families to confirm that all school-related international travel by staff and students had been postponed until further notice, which is in line with the directive from Government. The health and safety of our students and staff will underpin all decisions taken and we take our advice and directives on this and all other points.
In relation to planned school group or individual travel within Australia, the School will continue to carefully monitor the situation and take advice from the authorities. We will keep families informed of any changes to these plans. For the safety of our students we have cancelled the GOAANSE Sports festival which we compete in each year and we are monitoring as to whether the upcoming trip to Sydney and Canberra is able to go ahead. We will ensure that any decision on the viability of planned school groups/tours is done as early as practicable to reduce the risk of payments being made on trips that do not proceed. However, tours/trips/camps may be cancelled at short notice in the interest of student and staff health and safety or in accordance with Government directives.
We are monitoring advice from health authorities on events and larger gatherings. At this point in time, most school-related events will proceed as planned but this may change at any time. The recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer; that all non-essential gatherings of 500 or more people be banned, has already been enacted upon with the cancellation of a number of events including the ACC and IPSHA Interschool Swimming Carnivals.
All decisions around events and gatherings will be taken in the interest of our students, families and staff. We will notify you separately about the cancellation of any future school events.
Camps and excursions are proceeding as scheduled at this time. The School continues however to take due diligence to confirm that providers and venues have appropriate health and safety practices in place. Any student who is unwell should not attend school, school excursions or camps in the interest of the health of fellow students and staff.
What if Staff and Students are unwell?
If a student or staff member is unwell, we ask that they remain at home and do not attend School. If a case of COVID-19 is suspected of a child whilst at school; based on their symptoms and travel history, we will isolate them and follow health guidelines. To assist us in keeping our students safe; if a member of your family is unwell and is suspected of having COVID-19, please keep your child/children at home until they have seen a doctor and their test results are clear. Please notify the School if your child or a family member living in the same house is being tested for COVID-19. This will allow us to support the student through any quarantine period away from School.
The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly and we will continue to update you as required. I thank our school community for all the support. Let me assure you that despite the uncertainty surrounding the global outbreak, all our efforts are going into providing a safe and secure school environment for our students.