A COVID-19 Risk Assessment document has been put in place by Valley Invicta Academies Trust (VIAT) in response to the Government’s announcement for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020
You can read our COVID-19 Risk Assessment document here.
This page gives also access to previous communications from VIAT to parents/carers regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Please see relevant links below.
Department for Education Helpline
The Department for Education has 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: DfE.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Please note, if a student is sick or self-isolating, they MUST report absence by emailing attendance to ensure the school is informed.
Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions
Updated 17 March 2020
What should I do with my admission paperwork?
Complete the paperwork according to the deadline and as soon as possible. We would like to reassure you that we have colleagues working on this as a priority. If you have any questions please contact the relevant School Office.
What should I do with my appeal paperwork?
Aim to complete this as soon as possible. We would like to reassure you that we have colleagues working on this as a priority. If you have any questions please contact the relevant School Office.
We will be liaising with Kent about any changes to timescales, and they will notify you directly.
Why is my son/daughter's school not closing when others are?
The Trust's schools will remain open until such a time the government directs us to close.
When will the schools be closed?
The schools will not be closed unless we are directed by the government. However there may well be a need for a partial closure due to the shortage of staff as a result of staff self-isolation. Each school will inform you accordingly of the arrangements and we will update this website regularly.
My son/daughter has to travel on a busy bus/train to get to school - should he/she be coming in?
There is nothing to suggest that students should not travel on public transport unless, of course, they have any symptoms which mean they should self-isolate. Decisions around how a student travels to school remain with the student and their families.
My son/daughter is due to go on a school trip - will this still take place?
We have reviewed all school trips/events up until Easter. Plans are underway to cancel/defer all trips and you will be notified.
If you have any enquiries please contact the relevant School Office.
My son/daughter is in self-isolation. Will they get work to do?
Schools are working very hard to provide work on the portal/website and/or virtual teaching and learning using software/apps. We ask all families to ensure that their son or daughter looks on the website/email for information and guidance.
How will my son/daughter keep up with the work?
It's important that all students who are working from home have structure to their day in order to learn effectively. This can be based on what they would usually do while at school. They will not receive any more work than they would if they were in school as usual. Of course, we would encourage any student who is experiencing difficulties to contact their teacher/s.
How do I support my child while we self-isolate?
It is important to maintain as near as possible to a normal school routine. This will include following the normal school timetable. For example, if your son or daughter does English first thing in the morning, they should follow suit while at home. Encourage a structured approach with breaks that coincide with the normal school day. It is important to ensure there is a balance of academic and creative work as well as personal development work. In terms of creative work, you could include art/crafts, practising a musical instrument/singing and using the local environment for exploration.
All resources will be on the school website/portal. In secondary schools we would encourage students to correspond with their subject teachers via email and to share their learning with their peers in similar ways to enable regular assessment for learning. In primary schools, we would urge you to use online resurces to support home learning packs to add variety in your child's learning. Please be mindful of online safety restrictions to support your child's learning.
My son/daughter has severe asthma - should he/she be coming in or should he/she be kept at home?
This decision is one for parents/carers, not for the school.
Will absence be authorised?
Each absence will be recorded accordingly. All students who are sick or self-isolating MUST report in absent using the normal procedures.
Will SATs and public exams (GCSE and A-level) take place?
At present, we are working towards the published dates, as we have been given no indication by the government that things will change. We strongly advise you ensure that your son or daughter is working in a structured way to enable a strong revision programe as preparation for these public examinations. We will, of course, keep you updated on arrangements for formal examinations as and when they are published.
Our family receives free schools meals - what provision is there for this?
At present, all students/pupils receiving free school meals who are in school continue to access this provision. In terms of any partial or full school closures, we are waiting for guidance from the Department for Education with regards to this.
My son/daughter is presently being supported by the school with regards to our personal circumstances. What will happen if the school has to close?
We will endeavour to maintain contact and work with all external agencies as best we can to ensure your childs is supported and that their needs are catered for.
16 March 2020
We know that many of our community will be feeling anxious about the virus. We are in regular contact with Public Health England (PHE) and are following their advice, along with guidance from the NHS and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Updated on 17 March. Please read our frequently asked questions below. We will continue to provide updates as and when we have them on this page.
Is the School open?
Yes, the school is open, but due to the rapidly evolving situation, we have taken the decision to minimise large groups and social events. Please refer to the letter written by the CEO and Chair of the Trust dated 16 March 2020. It is likely there will be some changes in extracurricular activities and some trips.
We will be looking creatively at how we can deliver teaching remotely and working with both students and colleagues to ensure that the safety of all comes first as and when a school closure decision is made.
Staff, students and visitors should continue to follow the advice issued by Public Health England.
What is the school doing to plan and keep people informed during the current coronavirus outbreak?
We are aware this is a worrying and uncertain time for all of us and we will try to do everything possible to support our school community through this.
An Emergency Management Team (EMT) has been established, which is chaired by Julie Derrick, CEO and Richard Hayden, COO, who are meeting regularly and includes members of each school’s Leadership Group.
We will endeavour to regularly report on discussions and decisions taken as well as any update on the rapidly evolving situation. This will be sent to students, staff and parents via our internal communications.
We are being guided by Public Health England (PHE), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the NHS.
We are keeping this page up-to-date with the latest advice from PHE, the FCO and NHS, and adding FAQs as and when they arise.
During the current outbreak we have also ensured the Estates and Site Team are increasing the frequency of cleaning to ensure that soap is available and surfaces are clean.
Is the school providing more soap and hand sanitiser?
The school has an adequate quantity of supplies to provide all washrooms with soap.
Students and staff are encouraged to use their own sanitiser.
Is the school increasing the frequency of cleaning?
Cleaning staff are being re-directed from lower priority tasks to cleaning washrooms and other areas to increase the frequency of service.
However, any surface is only as clean as the hands that have touched it. We will be cleaning surfaces regularly but we need everyone to play their part.
To that end, we are promoting advice to wash hands frequently.
If you have any particular concerns about the cleaning in your area you can contact the Reception Desk of each school to inform them; we will do our very best to address this as a school priority.
Could restrictions affect events, teaching, assessments?
At present, teaching will continue for all our students. We will work towards the published examination board dates and review this regularly with announcements.
Arrangements will vary from subject to subject and students will be given guidance from their teachers and respective Headteachers.
At this stage, we have cancelled all large events such as Open Events, Consultation Evenings, Sports Fixtures etc, until the end of term.
Unfortunately, the circumstances regarding coronavirus are beyond our control, so this is a situation that we are monitoring carefully and could be subject to change. If this is the case, we will follow the advice and direction about coronavirus prevention provided by Public Health England and other UK Government bodies.
Students and Teaching
- The majority of teaching materials will be published on the school website or portal. We will endeavour to deliver remotely as far as this is possible if the school were to partially or fully close.
- Individual teaching staff will endeavour to communicate with students on a regular basis, as per the normal school timetable. However, this will be limited and will vary from teacher to teacher. We will endeavour, as always to provide as much information as we can.
- We will also be using alternative approaches to assessment and will develop our plans over the next few weeks. This will be a priority and further information on the different types of assessment will also follow.
Will there be refunds for school trips/events that are cancelled?
This is a global situation and we are not in a position to make refunds but we will use our travel insurance to support claims if the event or country is closed. We will follow advice from the Foreign Office and Travel Company. Any refunds will be dependent upon the Foreign Office placing a control on the country or region.
In terms of schoo trips, such as theatre or amusement parks, our ability to provide refunds depends on our suppliers/providers. We will be in contact as soon as practically possible - this will take time, so please bear with us.
I want to be at home because of the coronavirus outbreak. What is school policy on this?
As a school, we are following government advice, which suggests this is not necessary currently. However, we recognise that this is a personal decision based upon your own health needs.
There is an underlying health condition. What should I do?
Advice for staff: If you have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes or other immunosuppressive conditions, or live with someone and/or are a carer of someone with any of these conditions we would encourage you to work from home, if that is possible. If this is not possible, then we would encourage you to remain at home until further notice. In both circumstances you need to speak directly with your Headteacher/Line Manager, in the first instance, to let them know and to arrange any necessary cover.
If either yourself or your Manager want to speak to our HR Team then they can contact HR@viat.org.uk
If you are feeling unwell and displaying the symptoms relating to COVID-19 then follow the guidance provided by the NHS.
Advice for students: We recognise that some students may have underlying health conditions, be vulnerable, or may wish or be required to return home. For these students, the school will authorise the absence as per our normal protocols.
What should I do if I think I may have the virus?
The latest advice (16 March) is that anyone with a new persistent cough or high temperature, or anyone with a member of their household who has those symptoms, is now advised to self-isolate for fourteen days.
Follow the advice provided on the Public Health England website
Otherwise seek advice from the NHS site for latest information.
If you are told to self-isolate notify the school by contacting our absence line for staff and students.
You should follow the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
I am worried that I have been in contact with someone who has had a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus at their place of work/school. What should I do?
Please visit the NHS.uk site for further advice.
For advice on coronavirus or if you have been travelling and are concerned you may have coronavirus then use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next.
Will families get fined if they are absent?
We will follow Government advice. However, it is unlikely that fines will be imposed with the current pandemic.
Should I wear a face mask?
The advice we have is that the risk of infection is low so extra protective measures are not necessary and it is debatable whether masks will be effective in this situation.
There is also advice on gov.uk blog that indicates this is not necessary.
What should I do if I have recently travelled to a country or area affected by coronavirus?
The situation is changing rapidly, so please check their advice if you have any concerns about your recent travel.