Preparation for opening of school in COVID situation

The aim of the protocols will be to create a structure whereby, if cases of COVID are confirmed, we can close segregated sections of the school to minimise disruption to learning and to reduce the spread of infection. Everything will be done to minimise the risk of infection as far as we are able within the fast-changing circumstances and the parameters a day school (Dunannie) and a mixed boarding and day school (Dunhurst) allow. It is essential to emphasise that to do this, all staff, children and parents/guardians need to adhere to these agreed principles to keep the school community safe.

Minimising initial risk 

Returning boarders and day children need to be able to confirm the following:

  • Absence of symptoms on arrival
  • Absence of any symptoms over the past 10 days
  • Absence of any symptoms in the household over the past 14 days

A health information screening form is found on this link to complete and return before your child returns to school.

For what constitutes COVID symptoms, we are following the Public Health England (PHE) guidance of:

  • A new continuous cough
  • A temperature above 37.8°C
  • A loss of normal sense of taste or smell

Anyone who cannot confirm that they are asymptomatic or with a temperature of 37.5°C or over will be asked to return home, so we ask parents/guardians to ensure their child is in good health before their return to school.

The decision to make the temperature cut-off 37.5°C or above is as a safety net as this may indicate mild infection or early onset of new infection. In this case the child should be monitored further at home. The level of 37.8°C is the temperature criteria for Public Health England testing.

At this stage we will ask parents of Day children to exercise daily vigilance of the above symptoms. We are not currently planning on doing daily temperature checks after their initial return.

Management of symptoms in school

Please see the management of symptoms diagram to show the management plan for children with COVID symptoms. It is worth a reminder about the usual illnesses present this term. There will be a lot of illness that will not be related to COVID. What we aim to put in place is a system whereby seemingly ‘well’ children with suspicious symptoms are not sent home unnecessarily, as this adds to the risk of introducing new infection on their return.

For boarders, Public Health England have informed us of an expected 48-hour testing turnaround time, so we propose to hold these ‘well’ children with minor symptoms whilst we get them tested and manage their symptoms. The test result will inform the decision made for the child tested, and whether any further action is required for those children who had been in contact with the tested child. Any child with symptoms of fever will be required to remain in isolation until the fever has been absent for three days. Any child with a new and persistent cough or loss of taste or smell will be required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Likewise, for each symptomatic child there will be a group of close contacts who will also need to be held in isolation until the test result of the symptomatic child is received. We do not have the capacity to safely hold large numbers of boarding children in isolation areas, so any child with a positive test, and the contacts of any confirmed COVID test, will be sent home for the remainder of their isolation period. This will be 10 days from the onset of symptoms or until absence of fever for three days for the symptomatic person, and 14 days since the last day of contact for the ‘contact group’. Obviously, if members of the contact group develop symptoms in this time they must be tested and follow the necessary isolation rule.

We ask parents to be understanding that we will do our best to manage those that need to be held in isolation, but this will depend on numbers relative to our capacity and if parents/ guardians are unable to have their child home we can discuss on a case by case basis. Day children will also be sent home if they have symptoms and their parent/guardians asked to arrange a test from home.

Face masks

Dunannie children and Groups at Dunhurst are not expected to wear masks due to age, Government advice is that younger children are likely to fiddle or touch their mask and therefore negate its efficacy. Pupils are welcome to bring in a mask and wear them if they are able to abide by hygienic mask procedures, but they are not going to be prompted to wear a mask during the school day.

Block 1 and 2

We will not be asking children to wear masks in school, again government advice is clear that children do not have to. However, we will encourage, but not enforce, Blocks children to wear masks as they commute between lessons as this will be the occasions in the day where social distancing is most difficult. Children are always welcome to wear them at their own discretion. Blocks children will all require three masks in school for this purpose, and to reduce the risk of the transmission of infection they will be encouraged to wear them in places where we can’t guarantee social distancing. In essence, this would include during lesson changeovers, moving along corridors, and coming in and out of buildings where the entrance and exit are potential bottle-necks.

We currently expect these to be used in certain situations:

  • If the child has an appointment and is required to take a taxi or public transport 
  • For GP or hospital appointments
  • If they have symptoms of minor illness that do not meet COVID testing criteria

Children will be instructed on how to safely remove, dispose or wash their masks. Disposable masks are not an acceptable option as these can be discarded carelessly and add to contamination risk.

GP service for boarders

We are looking at ways to keep the Health Centre a safe place for medical triage and treatment. This currently includes discussion with ICT for possible webcam consultations with the nurses for those who may present for routine health care issues and questions. As a rule, we will aim to keep all consultations to less than 15 minutes. This is to protect our nurses from infection and from unnecessary isolation given the track and trace cut off for contacts going into isolation is contact over 15 minutes. We realise this will impact on children who use us for mental health support and are looking at other spaces they can use for a ‘time out’. We will inform all children of our procedures on their return and
hope to be able to offer as close to our usual range of services as possible.

General

We are looking at ways to keep the Matrons’ surgery a safe place for medical triage and treatment. As a rule, we will aim to keep all consultations to less than 15 minutes. This is to protect our Matrons from infection and from unnecessary isolation given the track and trace cut off for contacts going into isolation is contact over 15 minutes. We realise this will impact on children who use us for mental health support and are looking at other spaces they can use for a ‘time out’.