20th March 2020

A Message from Autism Anglia's Chief Executive

Like many other Charities and Service Providers Autism Anglia is affected by the challenges presented by the Coronavirus. As a provider of 24 hour care and support and a school as well as family and community based support we are working around the clock to ensure that we can continue to provide services that keep vulnerable people safe and well. Everyone should remember that we have a shared responsibility to follow the guidance in order that we can reduce the impact of this virus.

As ever, our staff and managers are showing extraordinary dedication to do everything they can to keep homes and services running. Quite rightly there is a significant focus on health services but it is important for people to understand that school and support staff work through the day and night to ensure that the students and adults with autism we support, often with complex needs, are able to keep attending school or live safely in their homes.

I would like to thank every one of our staff for everything they are doing at this current time.

If the situation continues to get worse we may be looking out for temporary staff, Volunteers or people just to help out generally over the coming weeks. If you think you would like to help us in any way please contact me at [email protected]

Alan Bicknell
Chief Executive Officer

20th March 2020

Dear Parents,

The latest government guidance for schools was published late last night.

As I stated in my letter yesterday school will remain open in the form of childcare on Monday.

It is very clear though that  in order to rapidly reduce risk to everyone that:

every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:

If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.

Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.

Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

I am particularly concerned given yesterday’s update  about children travelling in taxis.

I really urge you to consider keeping your children at home for this time if they are safer.

With this in mind. Please keep us updated if you have changed your mind about sending children in so I can review staffing to keep everyone safe.

Kind regards,

Louise Parkinson

19th March 2020

Dear All,

As you are probably aware the message yesterday from government that all schools will close on Friday, then had some implications for us as a school.

Our school will remain open on Monday.

There will be a significantly reduced staff team due to some in self isolation, some in social distancing and some needing to potentially look after their children. 

We are currently being asked to provide care from Monday and not education.  We however will try to continue your child’s education as best we can.

We have created a comprehensive pack with a whole range of activities that will be coming home with your children tomorrow should you wish to keep them at home.   Please see here for this.

All our pupils have EHCPs so the guidance currently suggests they are entitled to be able to come to school.

In guidance on Tuesday,  we were told that vulnerable groups including those with asthma, diabetes, learning disabilities etc should be social distancing so the message isn’t clear currently.

In addition we have some children self isolating and some already choosing to social distance

So that we can support children who will not be returning Monday and those who will please could you respond to let us know if you will be sending your child to school Monday.

We have prepared social stories and supports to help our pupils through this.

If you are a key worker and either a single parent or both parents in the household are key workers please could you let us know.

We currently know that in the key worker list are supermarket delivery drivers, hospital staff, police and care workers for vulnerable and the elderly.  There should be an update to this at around 2:30 today.

Please remember that in years to come our young people will remember how they felt during this time rather than the detail so try to keep this as calm as possible for them.  We have created some fun activities to share either at home or school and will be keeping positive for them.

As soon as I know more I will update you.

We will be contacting taxis to ensure if they will still be able to bring children in.

In addition to this if staff numbers decrease then we will have to review if we can open safely,  again we will keep you informed.

Kind regards,

Louise Parkinson 

Head Teacher 

17th March 2020 

Dear Parents and Carers, 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) update 

I am writing to you regarding the evolving situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are responding to daily updates from Government agencies as they are published and we will continue to follow the guidance of Public Health England and the Department of Education as and when developments occur. 

You can be assured that we have been preparing for potential future developments and this letter is intended to provide you with information about the approach we will take going forward. 

Our main channel of communication with parents/carers is via email, we also have an update page on the School’s website. 

 

Preventing the spread of viruses in School 

  1. Students have been made aware of Public Health England advice where appropriate around washing hands through social stories and there are posters around School to reinforce key messages, including the importance of hand hygiene. 
  2. Please remind your son/daughter to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, particularly when travelling to and from School. 
  3. Our cleaning and premises staff are working hard to ensure surfaces and handles are cleaned more frequently, we are also doing a deep clean this week and there is a plentiful supply of soap in all toilets and hand sanitiser around school. 

If your son/daughter develops a high temperature or a new persistent cough 

  1. Keep them at home for 14 days (if the symptoms develop on a Monday, the student should not return to school until Tuesday two weeks later). If symptoms develop in school, you will be contacted and the student will be asked to wait in a designated area to be collected. 
  2. Consult the NHS 111 on-line service if symptoms get worse 
  3. Please keep the School informed of any developments. 
  4. This also applies where a student is living in the same house as someone exhibiting symptoms – the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

please keep us informed of any of these symptoms or developments.

If a diagnosed case of coronavirus is identified in School 

We do not currently have any diagnosed cases of coronavirus in our school community or in the wider Autism Anglia organisation. The relevant agencies will work closely with us in managing our response and our actions will be taken with community health at the centre of our decision making. 

Other measures 

  1. To reduce the number of people with whom our staff and students make contact, we will be 

completing all EHCP meetings via telephone conference.

  1. We will be cancelling/postponing all out of school trips and activities until further notice. 

Partial closure 

Schools will need to assess on a daily basis whether sufficient staff are available for the school to remain open as usual. If this is not the case, the school may need to close to one (or more) year groups, or shorten the school day. We will, of course, keep you informed should this be necessary. 

Full closure 

Government agencies could, of course, make a more general decision to close all schools and colleges across an area or across the country to minimise the level of ‘spread’. 

Whether the school is partially or fully closed, we will endeavour to provide education for your son/daughter. Teaching staff and the therapy team will provide teaching materials and teachers will continue setting work and checking learning where possible. Pupils will be provided with a social story where appropriate to help them understand.

Further Information 

The DfE launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows: 

  • Phone: 0800 046 8687 
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) 

You can also find the latest information updates on COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

Medication

We have been advised that ibuprofen should not be used for symptoms as this may make symptoms worse.

High Risk 

Diabetes and Asthma are on the list for high risk, if your child suffers with either of these conditions we support you in considering if it would be safer for your child to stay at home, especially if they are not in control of touching their face or putting items in their mouth.

Currently the guidance does not say people with these conditions should stay at home however it does advise extra vigilance.

To conclude, I would like to reassure you that Doucecroft School will continue to monitor the situation closely and will act swiftly on the advice of the relevant authorities regarding coronavirus. We have contacted all of our staff and students with the latest advice and will continue to provide this support. May I thank you all again for your trust and calm approach to this unprecedented situation. 

Yours sincerely, Louise Parkinson

Headteacher