Coronavirus update as of 15/3/2020 at 7pm

Dear Students and Parents/Carers at Epsom Primary School,

RE: COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)

In the last few days you will have heard much information and advice regarding schools and Coronavirus.

This update contains information which will be important over the coming days and weeks. It’s lengthy but please read it carefully. It’s important that parents don’t panic but it’s also important to know what the school is planning and what advice we have.

For your information, the following terms have been defined:

  • Self-isolate – Children remain at home and restrict contact with others for 14 days because they have either been confirmed with the virus or they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Self distancing – maintaining a distance between yourself and others to minimise the risk of contracting the virus, with a suggested distance of 1.5 metres. This includes limiting physical contact with others. Teachers will be working to minimize close contact in the classrooms and talking about playground etiquette.
  • Close contact – having, within the last 14 days, at least 15 minutes of face-to-face contact or the sharing of a closed space for more than two hours with someone who has been tested and confirmed as having COVID-19.

Steps to be taken include:

  1. An important step all of us should be taking to help stop the spread of any disease is to teach our children good hygiene practices: cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water on a regular basis (or provide hand sanitiser; particularly before eating and after using the toilet), avoid close contact with people who are sick and avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth. Self-distancing (where possible) is also good practice, particularly if there are confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in the community.
  2. The symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, breathing difficulties, cough, sore throat, fatigue or tiredness. Having a cough or sniffle doesn’t mean that you’ve got the coronavirus. One of the distinguishing features of the virus in comparison with a common cold or flu is breathing difficulties. However, if you are unwell with the symptoms above you should stay at home and not attend school. We are a school, not a medical service and we are not equipped to provide support to students who develop illness during the day. If your child is not well enough to be in class they should not be at school.

    If students present with these symptoms we will do what we do with any illness: we will call parents or emergency contacts and we expect the student to be collected from school as soon as possible.

  3. There seems to be some confusion and concern about the need for people to self-isolate if they perceive a risk through contact with someone who is being tested for the coronavirus. The government advice on this is clear: your child only need to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who has been confirmed as having the coronavirus.

  1. It is possible that at some stage the school may be forced to close. If this is because of a confirmed coronavirus case within the school then a closure would possibly be very short; just long enough to identify others who came into close contact with the person who has tested positive to the coronavirus, so that those people can self isolate and be tested.

  1. It is possible that there may be a longer closure of schools as part of a broader campaign to prevent spread of the virus.
  1. In either of the cases above (points 4 and 5) a closure of the school does not mean that students or staff need to go into self isolation (unless they are known to have been in close contact with a confirmed coronavirus case). Students and staff would be free to involve themselves in normal activities at home or in the community, and they should practice safe behaviours in doing so.
  2. If a decision is made to close the school we are unlikely to have much notice of the closure. It could happen with an hour’s notice at the end of a school day or it could occur overnight. If this does occur we will advise students and parents via our usual means of communication. – Notes, text message, email, website and Facebook. Please be monitoring these closely over the coming days and weeks.
  1. In the event of a closure it’s unclear whether there would be any staff on site to assist with inquiries.

  1. If we have members of our school community planning international travel in the coming holidays, for these people in particular it’s important to monitor government advice about travel and information from health authorities, including any precautions you need to take on your return to Australia.
  2. Due to the current concerns we are following advice from the departmenmt for all of our upcoming school events and we can advise you that:
    1. We cannot proceed with our Melbourne Anzac Service.
    2. Parent Teacher interviews scheduled for March 19 and 23 will continue as planned. Any parents/carers who are unwell should not come in for interviews at this time.
    3. Grade 5/6 camp is proceeding at this stage.
    4. Gruffalo excursion decision tomorrow.

There will no doubt be more information we need to share in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime I encourage everyone to remain alert to the risks, to monitor advice from the school and to speak to your children about practising safe behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus.

Regards,

Lyn Coulter

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