Following my previous communication in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to actively review and respond to any potential impact upon student and staff wellbeing and College operations, as the situation evolves.
Earlier this week I attended a briefing for Principals led by Dr Kerry Chant PSM Chief Health Officer & Deputy Secretary Population and Public Health and was appraised of the very latest information relevant to education and care settings.
We have been focussed on reviewing and refining our plans to ensure we respond appropriately to this unprecedented situation. Parents play a vital role in an effective response and I wish to share the key elements of the College’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan with you. This outlines the precautionary measures we are taking, along with the steps to be taken if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19. At the time of writing, I have not been informed of any confirmed cases of any student or staff member of St Patrick’s College, or that of any of their close contacts. Please inform the College immediately if your son or any of his close contacts are diagnosed with COVID-19.
In order to reduce the chances of undetected cases of COVID-19 spreading throughout the College community, we are taking the following actions:
- Promoting hand hygiene and social distancing and appropriate hygiene relating to coughing and sneezing. Reminding staff and students to be washing and sanitising hands regularly.
- Advising staff and students who are unwell not to attend the College, this includes mild flu like symptoms and in particular, fevers or coughs.
- Staff or students who become unwell with flu like symptoms while at the College will be sent home immediately with medical advice requested and followed up.
- Advising staff and parents of the latest advice from the Department of Health for self quarantining and testing based on travel and contact with those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- All overseas excursions are suspended until further notice.
- Cancelling or postponing interschool/large College gatherings – the decision to go ahead, postpone or cancel these events is being made on a case by case basis and as new information comes to light.
- Reviewing increasing College cleaning regimes, including desks, door handles, rails etc and making hand sanitisers widely available to staff and students.
- Making alternative arrangements available to students and staff with compromised immune systems or health conditions that may make them more vulnerable to the virus.
- Preparing staff to work from home and for remote student learning, if required.
- Briefing staff, students and parents on this plan.
If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the College, the following procedures will be taken:
Notification to relevant Authorities including the NSW Ministry of Health.
- Parents will be contacted via e-mail and/or SMS that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 and that the College will be cleaned and closed until further notice.
- The College will follow all advice from relevant Authorities regarding establishing close contacts and casual contacts of the diagnosed person/s and take all appropriate action.
If the confirmed case is notified to the College during school hours, the following will also apply:
- An announcement will be made over the internal public address system by the Deputy Principal or a member of the Executive. Teachers and boys will be advised to move to homeroom. The boys will collect their bags and if they have a phone, they will be permitted to contact their parents. Those boys who can travel home independently may do so once confirmed with their teacher that they have approval from a parent, guardian or close family contact. Boys will be advised they must go straight home and not attend shopping centres or the like.
- Boys who should not travel home independently must be picked up by a parent, guardian or close family contact as soon as is practicable from the College. Boys who do not have mobile phones, will be permitted to use the College phone to contact parents to agree on arrangements. Several staff members will be assigned to monitor various pickup points around the College. Owing to the potential number of cars, there will be no kiss and drop arrangement.
- Staff will remain in the homeroom until all boys leave their homeroom class.
Continuation of learning:
- From the first school day following the closure of the College, students will be required to complete the work assigned to them on Canvas or via email or an on-line learning platform. We encourage parents to help their sons to maintain their learning from home.
- In the event the College remains closed for 3 days or more, the College is preparing to be able to teach timetabled lessons remotely. We anticipate your son’s teacher will be available via email or an on-line learning platform to support the completion of lessons and any tasks set. It is important that set tasks are completed as they may also be part of formal assessment procedures.
- In the event the College needs to initiate ‘remote learning’, we will provide further information to parents and students regarding detailed arrangements.
Current exclusions advice, including travel:
It is also important to also update you with the latest exclusion advice for students. The students currently excluded from school are those who:
- have been in or transited through China within the last 14 days
- have been in or transited though Iran within the last 14 days commencing 1 March 2020
- have been in or transited through the Republic of Korea (South Korea) commencing 5 March 2020
- have been in or transited through Italy commencing 11 March
- have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 or
- have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 infection.
The advice on exclusions is subject to frequent change and this should be noted for the upcoming holiday period if you are planning on overseas travel. Please be informed of these arrangements noting that students may be subject to self-isolation for 14 days post travel. The DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) website should also be consulted for information on the the latest travel advice levels for specific countries.
I apologise in advance for any potential inconvenience and disappointment caused through the postponement or cancellation of important College events, or for any disruption to learning. We are committed firstly and foremostly to the health and safety of our College community and are regularly re-evaluating our approach to ensure that our response is measured, appropriate and aligned with the advice of the Authorities.
Please take care of yourselves at this time and be familiar with the steps to take in the event of casual or direct contact with someone with COVID-19 and also for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Thank you for your cooperation so that we may effectively manage this situation in order to prioritise the health and well-being of our entire community at this important time.
NSW HEALTH LINKS:
Casual Contact: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/novel-coronavirus-casual-contact.aspx
Close Contact: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/novel-coronavirus-close-contact.aspx
Suspected Cases: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/advice-for-suspected.aspx
Confirmed Cases: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/advice-for-confirmed.aspx
Dr Craig Wattam