Letter from the principal 30 April 2020

BY Mrs K. Stear

Dear Parents and Learners
We have been awaiting further instructions from the Department of Education about the reopening of schools and the standard operating procedures to follow once schools do open. As a parent, I realise that this is a huge concern for parents and is causing much anxiety.
I would like to keep you up to date on what Riebeek has put in place thus far to ensure a safe and smooth reopening of the school when this does take place eventually. I also want to assure you that we are adopting best practices from industry and that the Governing Body and I have researched this extensively. The safety of our learners and staff is paramount and it is our number one priority. Riebeek will not reopen until we are sure that every precaution has been taken to safeguard the girls and staff. At this point these are the measure we have implemented:
·       We have sourced two layered cotton masks. All girls will be given masks and this has been a huge, unbudgeted and unplanned expense for the school. The masks are fully washable, in the school’s colour and can be ironed.  We are asking for a donation for the masks if parents feel they are able to afford to do so. We will leave the amount up to your own discretion. We have ordered 4 masks for each learner. Donations can be made to: 
Bank – FNB                                                    Acc Name- Riebeek College GHS
Acc Number – 53971284352                      Branch code - 210316
Reference – learner’s surname, mask donation
·       Surgical or medical masks will not be permitted as these are scarce resources reserved for use by the medical profession.
·       The whole school building will be sanitised and a fogging performed prior to opening and then again daily in the afternoon once the learners have left the building. This will be done by an outside, professional company. They will be using the correct chemicals to do so.
·       Hand sanitiser with 70% alcohol has been ordered in large quantities, together with spray bottles and automatic dispensers that do not require to be hand operated. Paper towels have also been ordered in large quantities and the school will ensure that the bins in the bathrooms are emptied of paper towels regularly.
·       We have requested quotations to purchase safety glasses / face screens.
·       We are in the process of purchasing a thermal scanner which is capable of scanning a number of people at one time as they enter the building. For this reason, all staff and learners will enter the school at only one point in an orderly way with markings on the ground to ensure social distancing. The start of the school day may need to be staggered to overcome congestion when scanning is done.
·       We have created a Procedure Policy should a learner or staff member have a high temperature or becomes ill during the course of the day. We have allocated an “isolation room” for this purpose.
·       We are in the process of creating a Restart Action Plan to detail exactly how the school will operate. To give you some kind of idea as to what this entails, I will use the return of the grade 7 and grade 12 classes as an example. When the grade 12 and 7 classes resume school, we will have to split each class into two classes adjacent to each other and spread the desks out to ensure social distancing and, obviously, hand sanitizing will be practiced and masks worn. This in effect means that where we presently have 2 grade 7 classes, we will operate with 4 grade 7 classes.  For the grade 12s, the number of learners enrolled in the subject will determine whether they need to be split into smaller units, but theoretically each register class will each be split into 2 classes. The windows will need to be opened for ventilation and air conditioners will not be used. The teachers will need to move from class to class, and not the girls. The grade 6 teachers will be required to assist the grade 7 teachers and the grade 11 teachers will assist the grade 12 teachers. Social distancing will have to happen in the grounds at break and at the tuckshop, and the breaks will need to be staggered. Markers will be placed on the ground for the tuckshop queue. Distancing rules will also be established for the staff. We may need to implement one-way corridors in the high school to ensure social distancing. What I have outlined here is only a small example of the planning involved.
·       There will be no extra-murals, or assemblies or meetings of any sort.
·       The staff and girls will receive training guidelines on limiting the virus and sanitizing protocols.
·       Any outside visitors to the school will have to fill in a form detailing their particulars as they enter the grounds. They must be wearing a mask and will need to sanitise their hands as they enter the building and their temperature will be checked.
·       The tuckshop convener is to be approached to come up with ways to create a pre-ordering system so that there is no congestion at the tuckshop.
·       We anticipate that there will be parents who are concerned about daughters with compromised immune systems or a pre-existing condition making them vulnerable at this time.  We presume that once schools open, you would have an opportunity to email your concerns to us and for this to be taken into consideration when decisions are made regarding her school attendance.
As you can see, the planning for the return to school is formidable. What I have outlined here is only a representation of some of the measures we are investigating and the measures we are implementing. We are doing our utmost to think of every risk factor. As the situation is very fluid, we will also need to adapt and manage our planning as the situations change. I welcome any input from parents as we are in this together and we need to protect your daughter/s.
I am sure that you have seen on our social media platforms that we are not going to be setting new work for the girls for next week. This will be a week of consolidation and catching up for those who have fallen behind. I encourage the girls to contact their teachers if they have certain sections of work that they are battling with. The teachers are more than happy to be of assistance.
I wish to thank the School Governing Body for their immense contributions in managing these difficult times.  I by no means think that this letter will answer all your questions but I hope it does offer some form of information and a slight easing of your anxiety. There will be more to follow in the days ahead.
Please stay safe in these uncertain times.
Best Regards
Mrs Stear

 April 30, 2020
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