Principal’s Update 18th March

Dear Parents and Carers

We have had a good day in school despite the level of uncertainty and concern with respect to Coronavirus.  Students have been really mature and well behaved and have continued to actively engage in learning.  Lessons have proceeded as normal.

This is the latest difficulty to hit humanity, and there’s a pretty good chance it will not be the last. But I take hope in our combined efforts, in the words of Helen Keller: “Alone, we can do little, together we can do much”.  Medical scientists have in the past, and will now, use their God-given brains to help figure out a long term solution. It is our responsibility in the coming days to respond to the crisis in loving care for those around us building community cohesion and support structures with our neighbours, showing love and extending a helping hand. Let’s watch out for each other, work to build each other up and pray for wisdom to overcome this difficulty.

Grace College will remain open until we are told to close, or until such time as we are unable to provide a safe and purposeful environment for staff and students.   I recognise that this is a difficult time for students and families and especially for those who are now self-isolating.

Today’s overall attendance figure of 60.3% is much lower than normal and suggests a high number of students are staying at home either unwell themselves or as a result of following the key government guideline:  “If you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

We have a number of staff who are working from home as a member of their household has health vulnerabilities or has symptoms.  In the last 24 hours my wife has developed “a new persistent cough” so I am also working from home.  Please be assured that I am in constant communication with the Senior Management via Microsoft Teams.  We have a robust Contingency Plan which we are updating daily and we will do all we can to support the needs of the community and the nation as a whole.

Our overall staffing levels currently suggest we can continue to provide onsite education for students who are well and able to attend.  We are giving permission from tomorrow onwards for the sixth form to be present in school for their lessons only.  They will need to sign in and out – arrangements will be made for this.

It is vital that parents and carers ensure that any student who has either “a new, persistent cough or temperature” does not come into school and must ensure that they self-isolate along with all members of their household. We will require students to go home if they come into school with either a temperature or a new, persistent cough. We recognise that a persistent cough can be difficult to judge. Our approach has been, and will continue to be, cautious and erring on the side of protecting the wider school community and society as a whole. It is our understanding that this is what is being asked of us all at this time.

A reminder from earlier correspondence:

As a large number of students now at home we would like to draw your attention to the wealth of support available through Office 365. Students have access to Office 365 and the suite of apps.  Teachers have been working to prepare resources for this online platform. Many of these are now available for students to use. Priority for online support will be given to Year 11 and Year 13 classes but resources will be added for other year groups to ensure all students are catered for.  

Office 365 is available for student use and can be accessed online in any browser or by using the Microsoft Office app on mobile devices.  A link is also available from the Parent and Student Hub on our website.  Students have a designated school email in the following format – username@esf-schools.org.uk (where their username is their student ID, for example 1150199), e.g. 1150199@esf-schools.org.uk).  Students should remember their password – it is their usual network password.  And if for any reason they need support relating to learning at home they can contact our IT support team using: ITstudentsupport@gracecollege.org.uk

Together we are stronger and together we will overcome this.

Yours faithfully

Mr Mark Hall

Principal