Over the past fortnight we have been issuing regular daily updates about COVID-19 and its impact on our School and community. We are keeping in contact with our current parents via a regular ‘daily’ email that will be sent as required with any updates.
Many of the earlier updates have now been superseded so following is an overview of current advisories:
In order to test our readiness for an extended closure due to COVID-19, Westminster became an online school for Thursday 19 March and Friday 20 March, requiring staff to be at School and students to be at home. We ran this trial over two days to highlight problems and issues on the first day and work to resolve them on the second. A survey is being issued to all parties involved with the trial – staff, students and parents/caregivers – a link to this will be sent this afternoon as part of the ‘daily’ email routine.
Letter from the SA Minster for Education
Thursday 19 March, we shared the latest letter from the Minister for Education, the Hon John Gardner MP. Along with this, the information below has been shared by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, the Hon Greg Hunt MP:
We are not closing schools because we are looking for a proportionate response which is sustainable through several months and is possibly scalable into the future, depending on circumstances. At the moment, our circumstances are very different, for example, from the UK. So the UK have closed schools, not all of them, but many of them, overnight. They have many more cases of COVID-19 than we do - 2,600 last count. Over 71 deaths. This is very different to our current circumstances in Australia. They are making decisions on the basis of their own circumstances, which is appropriate for them. They are still looking to do the same thing as us - to flatten the curve, save lives through saving beds and taking the pressure off our healthcare system. At the moment for us, that is not necessary in relation to schools. We know from where the virus has broken out, very few kids get the illness. Those that get the illness are mainly mild, they don’t appear to be transmitting between children, in fact it’s more likely that children will get it from their own parents and other people in their households.
SACE Message for Year 12 families
Professor Martin Westwell, Chief Executive of the SACE Board, provided a link to explain the current situation with COVID-19 and how SACE is supporting students, teachers and parents: https://www.sace.sa.edu.au/covid-19-coronavirus. This link was also been shared with Year 12 students.
Opening and closing gate changes to Alison Ave vehicles and pedestrians gates
In the interest of our School community’s health and safety, we have reduced the hours of access to the our campus. Key points to note:
- Until further notice, the three Alison Ave vehicle gates for School use (Gate 1 railway, Gate 2 Main, Gate 4 Barry’s Lane to the Sports and Swimming Centre) will be open Monday to Friday, 7.00 am to 7.00 pm.
- Across the weekend, specifically from Friday 7.00 pm to Monday 7.00 am, these gates will remain closed – there are no matches, training sessions, concerts or conferences taking place
- If you are still in the School grounds outside of this 12 hour weekday window, the automatic gates will open on your approach to allow you to exit
- The pedestrian gates will also follow the same open periods, as our grounds will not be available for local community use until further notice (eg walking, running, dog strolling) and signage will be installed to indicate this
- All outside courts will be locked at 5.00 pm.
Specifically around Health and Hygiene:
- No School gatherings larger than class size to occur
- Continued exercising of self-hygiene – including the regular washing of hands, no sharing of drink bottles, covered sneezing/coughing - into tissues (immediate disposal) or into elbow
- Avoidance of unnecessary personal contact, including hugging, shaking hands, touching of surfaces where possible – 1.5 m ‘social distancing’ wherever and whenever possible.
- Assemblies will not take place in person - we will endeavour to deliver the content of assemblies electronically
- Bus services to space out where possible and also observe hygiene measures.
Boarding Meals and Canteen Catering:
- Meals will be served in single use containers
- Boarding lunches will have to change to avoid cross-contamination
- No massed gatherings larger than 25 students unless essential, for example, at meal times – meals being served outside as according to weather
- Food stock will be changed to minimise contact with food and services by students.
- Meals will be served by staff rather than children helping themselves
- Staff will assess all meal times to break into smaller groups and clean down the spaces between groups.
Events and Activities
- All excursions – incursions may be allowed to proceed depending on visitor status and student interaction
- The School Fun Fair planned for Saturday 4 April
- Generations in Jazz and the Easter Service Tenebrae
- Other events that will soon be ‘within sight’ on the School calendar will be assessed according to the directives
- Refer to Old Scholar article in this eNews for the alumni program cancellations
- All competitive summer sport and SAPSASA events have been cancelled.
- Sports Days for both Preparatory and Senior Schools will have new dates set for later in the year, but can only occur once we have some clarity about our national and community responses
- A number of overseas and interstate School tours have been postponed – while some timeframes have been suggested, it will depend on whether we have this all-important clarity.
- Swim School classes have been suspended until further notice.
- External usage of the School grounds to include training sessions, weekend or weeknight sporting competitions, conferences and accommodation.
- Curriculum tours are still proceeding and will be restricted as required to meet any updated directives
- The program in its entirety remains suspended while being thoroughly reviewed – this includes all sport, clubs, activities, music, dance and drama. More information will be released on this as soon as possible.
Australian Government Advices
Key updated messages are:
Australian border closures - until 9.00pm Friday 20 March, foreign nationals, who have recently arrived in Australia, must self-isolate in a home or hotel for 14 days after entering Australia; residents or direct family members will be allowed entry; from 9.00pm Friday 20 March, only citizens will be allowed to enter Australia.
You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:
- you have COVID-19
- you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020 – if you are living under the same roof as others you must self-isolate from them – observe ‘social distancing’ protocols, no sharing of anything tangible, assigning a bathroom for your exclusive use (assuming this is possible), extra care in cleaning etc
- if you are unwell without being suspected of having COVID-19, others that live with you do not need to self-isolate unless they also meet one of the isolation criteria
- if you develop symptoms and are suspected to have COVID-19, others living with you will be classified as close contacts and will need to be isolated.
Limits on organised gatherings - the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has recommended limits on organised non-essential gatherings:
- internal gatherings to fewer than 100 people (including staff) – this applies to cinemas, theatres, restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs wedding, funerals
- outdoor gatherings to fewer than 500 people
- meetings or conferences for critical workforce members, such as healthcare professionals and emergency services.
Aged Care facilities – please familiarise yourself what is allowable when visiting a relative or friend in an Aged Care facility; please also note from Friday 1 May you must have had your influenza vaccination to visit an aged care facility.
These sites provide comprehensive and current information issued regularly by the Australian Government: