Habsmonmouth Online

Advice on Coronavirus – Latest updates

Information for Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents

Letter to Parents and Guardians re Quarantine from HK/China and within Europe – 29th July 2020

Letter re Quarantine from HK and China (PDF – 339kB)
Letter re Quarantine from within Europe (PDF – 255kB)

Letter to Parents and Guardians – 14th July 2020

Letter to Parents and Guardians – 14th July 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As promised, now that we have had the latest advice from both the English and Welsh governments, I would like to update you on our plans for reopening our schools in September. We are determined to open as fully as we can while still minimising the risks posed by Covid-19. To some extent, we can act independently and so have worked through detailed plans on how we can deliver our broad educational programme across all five school sites.

We aim to open all of our schools on the dates issued in our published timelines – please see website. We thus anticipate welcoming every student back to school.

https://www.habsmonmouth.org/information/term-dates/

To achieve this, we have completed an extensive Risk Assessment. I am most grateful to Mrs Tessa Norgrove, our Foundation Bursar, for overseeing this and we will make this available to you over the summer for your reassurance. I am sure that you will understand that every element of this Risk Assessment comes with clear caveats. We will continue to work on procedures and plans throughout the summer whilst remaining vigilant over a second spike.

We are planning how to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 on all aspects of school life. Students will be in ‘coloured bubbles’, based on Year Groups and boarding houses. We are working on a timetable which limits their movement as we know that social distancing amongst our students will be difficult to achieve. We are investing significantly in the IT provision available to our staff, which will enable them to move between classrooms and reduce the flow of students across the site.

Cleaning and PPE is another key element of our planning process. We will have a full rota of cleaning in place, combined with a timetable for handwashing on arrival, before and after eating, toileting and when leaving the school site. Visitors to the site will follow clear protocols on entry/exit, which will include temperature checks and handwashing on entry and exit. We aim to carefully manage use of shared space and equipment by different groups (e.g. libraries, dining rooms, assembly halls and IT suites). We are also monitoring the wearing of face masks, which may well be extended in future government updates.

We will issue instructions for parents on drop off/pick up arrangements including timings, where to park and walk if dropping off younger students. We are liaising with our school transport providers and will issue further guidelines on this.

Beyond the beginning of term, we are currently planning for the following:

  • A constant review of our sporting provision term-by-term;
  • A review (to introduce) all activities/afterschool clubs after the October half term;
  • A regular review of performing arts opportunities;
  • No residential school trips this calendar year;
  • The Director of Sixth Form will be in touch to confirm arrangements for Years 12 and 13;
  • Plans for morning and afternoon registration;
  • How to run assemblies effectively;
  • We hope that some ‘academic surgeries/clinics’ might be possible throughout the term;
  • Reviewing Parents’ Evenings and the possible use of video calls;
  • The introduction of a link tutor if there is a need for online learning;
  • Small modifications to the uniform and minimising changing into games kit;
  • Reviewing arrangements over peripatetic music lessons;
  • If there is an early warning showing a local outbreak of COVID-19, we will issue a plan with immediate effect.

There will be much to think through and plan over the weeks ahead, but our clear aim is to return to some sort of normality from September and to embrace school life once more. We want to give your children the best opportunities we can, whilst keeping everyone as safe as we can.

In the meantime, once again thank you for your patience and support over this extraordinary time and I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Summer.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

Download full letter (PDF – 187kB)

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 12th June 2020

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 12th June 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

Many of you have contacted the schools with questions about opening next term. We remain confident that we will be reopening in September and wanted to offer you some reassurance by outlining our intentions regarding a few key issues for next term.

1. The #safeschools initiative

On 10th May, the UK Government announced the roadmap to ending lockdown. On Tuesday 26th May, the BSA formally announced the BSA Covid-Safe charter. I am pleased to inform you that we have subscribed to the charter and committed to the #safeschools initiative. Full details of our commitment are available at www.safeschoolsuk.org. This means that we will:

  • Allow students to wear face masks in school
  • Undertake temperature checks or thermal scanning regularly for all non-resident individuals
  • Put in place and ensure appropriate social distancing measures
  • Ensure appropriate PPE for staff who require it
  • Provide a suitable isolation area to care for pupils who show symptoms

2. UK Quarantine

The requirement for quarantining travellers arriving in the UK began on June 8th. The policy will be reviewed again in three weeks, and there is no indication as yet whether the policy will still be in force at the beginning of the Michaelmas term. The UK Department of Education has confirmed that schools will be deemed as suitable accommodation for any quarantine requirement.

  • We will open a boarding facility to accommodate boarders during the quarantine period.
  • Should the requirement no longer exist, we will honour the boarding booking and allow boarders to stay in the house under less stringent conditions.
  • This will be available from the 24th of August but please let us know if this causes difficulties with flights.
  • There will be no charge for this facility.
  • We hope that if you are able to make suitable private arrangements you will pursue this avenue before booking into School
  • The current guidance indicates that there will be no opportunity for those being quarantined to mix in any normal way even with members of their own “household”.

3. Half term

We are aware that it may be unviable to book a return flight for half term under the current circumstances. We will, therefore, be arranging a residential facility for half term for those who struggle to make suitable guardian arrangements. Further details to follow on likely costs involved.

4. Exeat

We understand that in the current unprecedented situation, making exeat arrangements may make cause additional pressure on some families or may be impractical. We will be offering a ‘stay-in’ option for the September and November exeats. The format has yet to be decided upon and may involve staying in a different location for the weekend, under the overall direction of Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools staff.

5. Travel

We will provide a letter that international pupils can use as a way of demonstrating that they are travelling back to a BSA member school. Translations into Chinese and Russian have already been commissioned and will be available imminently. Our dedicated travel office will continue to offer our usual service of coordinated airport collections to oversee the safe return of your child to school. We will monitor government advice and work tirelessly with our transport partners to ensure that this is done safely and in accordance with any social distancing requirements. Please liaise in the normal way regarding flight details: boarderstransport@habsmonmouth.org

6. Contact us

Many of you have already spoken with our boarding staff directly. Please continue to contact your son’s/daughter’s houseparent/housemaster with any further queries, or indeed contact the boarding secretary on willis.melina@habsmonmouth.org and she will answer your enquiry or direct it accordingly.

Kind regards,

Mr Alex Peace

Download full letter (PDF – 145kB)

Letter to Parents re start of Summer term – 17th April 2020

Letter to Parents re start of Summer term – 17th April 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you have been able to stay safe and well in these extraordinary times and that you have had a peaceful Easter with your families. For those members of our community who are on the front line at this time, we offer our sincere gratitude and full support.

It does not seem that long ago that our schools were closed as a result of the Government’s policy of lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus. However, in that time a great deal has occurred in our schools. In particular, I extend my thanks to our staff who have worked throughout this time to support the children of key workers. We have many parents who are on the front line trying to deal with the crisis and I know that they have really appreciated their children being in school to enable them to focus on doing such a brilliant job of caring for all of us. Many of these parents have kindly written to express their gratitude. One typical example I received stated:

“The current battle against covid-19 has affected us deeply as a family. We work on the frontline of healthcare and we have never experienced challenges as great as we are facing today. The support the school is providing to us though key worker provision is carrying us through this difficult time and we are tremendously grateful. The staff are putting themselves at risk every day and yet they continue to give our children fun and fulfilling days. Please could you pass on our thanks to all those involved.”

I am sure that we all recognise how extraordinary this time truly is in our history. I have been humbled by the considerable number of parents who have written to offer their ongoing support for our schools, and we are most grateful for this. We have had to make some important decisions such as reducing our fee level to 60% (we believe this to be the lowest fee of any independent school in the country) and we have furloughed 90% of all our support staff as part of our strategic planning. Another recent email stated:

“We have every confidence that the fee level set represents what the school needs to achieve from parents in order to remain operational, whilst also providing job security for hard working and valuable members of staff. We are a community, and as such we all need to support each other, to make sacrifices, and work together for the good of our children. Only in this way, can the school come out on the other side of this and be in a position to offer the same standard of educational provision it always has, by the same truly wonderful and extremely caring staff.”

The Summer term starts on Tuesday 21st April and we are focused on delivering the most dynamic and interactive service we can through our newly constructed remote learning provision. This can be accessed via our website www.habsmonmouth.org/online and there are links to a whole range of initiatives and advice covering Teaching and Learning, Enrichment and Pastoral Care. ‘Habsmonmouth online’ will streamline access to the various platforms the teachers will be using to deliver the curriculum and assignments to your children over the weeks ahead. You will note the emphasis on assessment and feedback as we recognise the importance of this in every child’s progress. Our Year 11 and 13 students have been written to separately at this challenging time for them. Our senior schools’ Academic Deputy Heads and prep schools’ Curriculum Leaders will provide further direction should you need it as we adjust to this online resource.

One of the expressions I often use at home and for which I am often teased is ‘normality is good’! At this time this seems particularly apposite in two ways. Firstly, we hope to deliver as normal a service as possible over the coming weeks. I have every confidence that our staff here will rise to the challenge and that your children will have a positive educational experience. We would welcome your feedback and suggestions to make this even better, day by day. Secondly, we all hope for a return to some sort of normality before too long in all aspects of our lives. I suspect that it will be a different world then but as soon as the Government directs us to re-open our schools, we will be ready to offer the outstanding breadth of education for which Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools are renowned.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor, Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 208kb)

Letter to Parents re Boarding Provision for Keyworkers – 6th April 2020

Letter to Parents re Boarding Provision for Keyworkers – 6th April 2020

Dear Parents,

Re: Boarding Provision for Keyworkers

I write to you with a brief update and direct offer of support from boarding. In addition to the schools’ keyworker day-care provision, I recently wrote to all boarding parents to inform them that we would be opening a boarding house to support boarding families where both parents are keyworkers.

As the situation evolves and the crisis escalates in the UK, many individuals are being redeployed or finding their working hours increased; I would therefore like to extend the offer of boarding support to all of our keyworker parents who would find a short-stay boarding provision for their child helpful during the coming weeks. Please email us directly so we can discuss individual requirements with you.

To protect those working and living within the close community of a residential boarding house during the lock-down period, staff will take all reasonable measures to reduce risks of transmission into the house, and therefore will not be accepting requests for day boarding, where non-residents come into the boarding house for part of the evening. Should a pupil join boarding, it would therefore be for a continuous period of time. Further information is included below:

  • Augusta House, extending into Twiston Davies House will be the main accommodation block
  • Where possible, pupils will be allocated their own single room with a desk and en-suite shower room
  • Boys and girls will be arranged in separate zones
  • The youngest pupils will be placed in rooms in close proximity to staff accommodation and experienced junior boarding staff will be directly involved in their care
  • Boarding duties will be undertaken by experienced boarding staff from both the boys’ and girls’ schools.
  • All pupils will have access to age specific common rooms to relax in, as well as access to: a communal kitchen; games room; on-site playing field; tennis courts; sports hall and gym
  • Should a child or member of staff develop symptoms, we will closely follow the latest guidelines in our response
  • This facility will officially be available for you to book from Sunday 19th April (2pm), however we may need to bring this provision forward and will be prepared to accommodate at short notice should government instructions change. Please contact us if you have a more urgent request.
  • The boarding fee will be set at 60% – including CEA recipients
  • This emergency boarding provision will be reviewed weekly until schools are reopened.

Please email boarding secretary willis.melina@habsmonmouth.org to make an enquiry.

Kind regards

Alex Peace, Head of Boarding

Download full letter (PDF – 157kb)

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 18th March 2020

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 18th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

In the last couple of hours, we have been told that schools in Wales will close by Friday. We had been expecting this and so will put in place our contingency plans to support our pupils remotely. We will now action the following steps:

  • Preparing all pupils, in an age-appropriate way, to ensure they have the textbooks and materials they need to work at home.
  • All boarders need to return home as soon as possible. If you have been unable to change your child’s flight, international boarders should stay with their guardians from Friday evening. Please liaise with your child’s boarding house parents or housemaster as a priority so that we can work together to sort out any issues.
  • From Monday, we will put in place our temporary remote learning plan. You will be contacted by your child’s Headteacher shortly with more detailed information.
  • If we are unable to reopen as planned on 21st April, you will receive a structured educational programme for your child, including the necessary online resources.
  • We continue to press exam boards to brief us on their contingency plans for this summer’s GCSE/IGCSE and A level exams. We will inform all Year 11 and 13 students as soon as we know anything.
  • We will advise on amended fee structures as soon as we have a handle on likely disruption and timescales.
  • Finally, we understand that this will have an enormous impact on our parents’ ability to work. Recognising how many medics we have amongst our parent body; we are currently in discussion with Public Health Wales to see if we can provide any care in school to help them continue to deliver vital healthcare services on the frontline.

We are striving to provide as much support and normality for your children as we can under these challenging conditions. We do not underestimate the enormity of the situation that we face as a nation and I would like to thank you for your on-going support.

With my very best wishes,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 148kb)

Letters to Parents re Remote Learning – 18th March 2020

Letter to Parents re Remote Learning – 18th March 2020

Monmouth School for Girls Remote Learning (PDF – 130kb)
Monmouth School for Boys Remote Learning (PDF – 199kb)

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Letter to Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

I would like to provide you with the following update post the Cobra press briefing this afternoon:

  • Firstly, could I please urge all parents not to send their children into school if they have a new, persistent cough and/or a high temperature.
  • If any family member has these symptoms, the entire household must now self-isolate for 14 days. We have had a couple of cases of pupils faking a cough to be sent home, please stress to your child the impact this could have on the whole family needing to self-isolate for a fortnight.
  • Could all international boarding parents please make the necessary arrangements for their children to return home as soon as possible. Travel arrangements should be discussed with your child’s boarding house parents or housemaster in the first instance.
  • We are still awaiting confirmation on arrangements for this summer’s public exams, which are likely to be disrupted. On this basis, we are now suggesting all Year 11 and 13 international boarders return home and the schools will update families as soon as we are briefed by the exam boards.
  • All pupils and staff with underlying health issues, as outlined by the government, have been advised to stay at home to minimise their risk.
  • We have contingency plans to email work to all pupils who are already absent. We will provide greater detail on our plans to deliver remote learning in the next couple of days as we audit the numbers of staff and pupils currently away from school.
  • All school trips and fixtures will be cancelled from Friday.
  • Additional practical measures have been put in place including staggering meals, staff serving all pupils where possible, staff ensuring hand sanitisers are used before and after every meal.

We understand these are very worrying times for our entire school community. We also recognise the important role schools play in enabling our healthcare workers, emergency services and supply network to function as normally as possible for as long as possible.

With my very best wishes,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 144kb)

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 17th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents,

The government’s advice for self-isolation changed at 5pm yesterday. We are now facing 14 days quarantine of ‘households’ should anyone show any of the following symptoms: a new persistent cough and a high temperature.

You will appreciate that this would be very hard to manage within our boarding community where we have up to 40 pupils, staff and their families living together in each boarding house. The isolation period would also take us beyond the end of term which could impact on existing travel arrangements. In addition, the three-week activities camp over the Easter holidays has been cancelled in light of changing government advice and the likely imposition of all but essential travel in the UK and Europe.

The schools will help and support any parents who wish to bring forward their travel arrangements before the end of term. Many of our overseas boarders have already returned home keen to avoid many of the travel restrictions which now look increasingly likely.

The schools are remaining open and we will of course continue to offer the best care possible to all our boarders still with us. Teachers are gearing up to provide teaching support online for those students who have left early or will be self-isolating under the revised government guidelines aimed at protecting those with underlying health issues.

We are looking at how we keep our whole school community safe and would ask you to liaise with your child’s house parents or housemaster to discuss making new arrangements for collecting your children.

With best wishes,

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 141kb)

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 13th March 2020

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 13th March 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We had stressed that this was a fast-moving situation but few of us could have predicted quite how fast. Since yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, travel advice and requirements to self-isolate have changed.

It is hard for us to keep pace with the changing advice and so we would like to direct you to the government website which spells out their guidance on when to self-isolate at home:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

In addition, there is a new link on the government website for the latest travel advice
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

This includes the following key points:

  • There is no longer a list of restricted countries with a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days from a Category 1 area or 14 days if symptomatic from a Category 2 area, with the exception of Northern Italy.
  • Everyone with a new persistent cough and/or a high temperature should self-isolate for 7 days.
  • Overseas boarders returning to school should delay their return by 7 days if they become symptomatic. Should they become symptomatic while in school, they would then be isolated in either the medical centre or another designated space for 7 days.

As Covid-19 spreads rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic, there may be more flight restrictions as countries close their borders to delay and reduce the predicted peak in numbers. Please call your child’s houseparent or housemaster if you wish to discuss travel options with them. We would fully understand if you decide your child should leave before the end of term. In those cases, we will grant authorised absence and provide some additional online teaching support.

Again, I would like to reassure you that we are assessing on a daily basis which elements of our educational programme are deemed higher risk and we will take action accordingly. Wherever possible, our aim is to postpone not cancel activities.

We have also been contacted by several parents with children who have significant underlying health issues. Please contact our senior school nurse, Mrs Louise Goodwin, to talk through any medical concerns you may have.

A reminder that all letters about Covid-19 will be posted on our website: www.habsmonmouth.org/coronavirus

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 152kb)

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 12th March 2020

Letter to Boarders’ Parents, Guardians and Agents – 12th March 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Agents

Impact of Coronavirus restrictions on our boarding community

Today, I have written to all staff and parents about additional measures being imposed to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 as the UK and many parts of Europe move from the containment to delay phase.

We fully appreciate that any disruption to the schools’ calendar or travel arrangements will have the greatest impact on our boarders. Many families from mainland China and Hong Kong will have been separated since the 5th January and are now questioning what plans to make for the Easter holidays which are just two weeks away. As the rise in Coronavirus is now affecting large parts of Europe and new cases have declined sharply in the Far East, we need to re-evaluate our original advice to avoid travelling to previously restricted countries.

We understand some parents may wish to bring their child home before the end of this term to avoid possible travel restrictions or the need to self-isolate for 14 days. As a family of schools, we have been following government advice and keeping up-to-speed with any developments. Given the current uncertainty but increasing likelihood that tougher measures will be imposed, we urge all our overseas parents to make contact with their child’s houseparent or housemaster to discuss their individual plans for the remaining weeks of term and Easter holidays.

Our boarding team will support you with any changes to your child’s travel arrangements and our academic staff will put in place remote learning if needed. We cannot predict what the full impact of Covid-19 will be, but we believe that the health and wellbeing of each and everyone of our school community should drive our decision-making.

We will be imposing a 14 day self-isolation policy before day or boarding students can be readmitted to school for the start of the Summer term if returning from a Category 1 country, or showing symptoms from a Category 2 country. The full list of countries that pose an increased risk can be found here: COVID-19: Specified countries and areas with implications for returning travellers or visitors arriving in the UK

All letters about Covid-19 are posted on our website: www.habsmonmouth.org/coronavirus

James Murphy-O’Connor – Principal

Download full letter (PDF – 160kb)