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Advice on Coronavirus – Latest updates

Information for Parents (Letters)

Letter to Parents re Covid-19 Advice for Parents – 16th September 2020

Dear Parents,

I hope you are well.

Following a number of enquiries from parents asking for advice about how to respond to their child’s symptoms on becoming unwell I thought that it would be useful to write with a reminder of the protocols to follow in the light of Covid-19 or non-Covid-19 symptoms manifesting themselves.

For your reassurance, the following information about symptoms is taken from the NHS WALES website. The aim of the letter is to provide clear advice on what to do if your son or daughter is unwell ahead of what could be quite a busy time of year

The letter is in five parts:

The first part deals with Covid-19 symptoms and what to do.

The second provides some advice on what to do if your son or daughter is feeling unwell but the symptoms are not consistent with those listed below.

The third section outlines what the school aims to do in the event that your son or daughter is away from school because they have tested positive, have symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate by Test, Trace, Protect Wales.

The fourth section deals with the communication that parents can expect in the event of a pupil developing symptoms that may be an indicator of Covid-19 either on the school site or at home.

The final section deals with the school policy for ensuring that pupils can continue to be supported by the academic departments while they are self-isolating.

1 – Covid-19 Main symptoms

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature although a temperature above 37.8 is classed by the NHS as “high”)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
    Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms. If you believe that your son or daughter has one or more of these symptoms, please do not send them to school and do the following:
  • Get a test to check if they have coronavirus as soon as possible.
  • Stay at home and do not have visitors until the test result comes back – only leave your home to have the test.
  • Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until the result is known.

This NHS Wales Symptom Checker is a useful resource and takes you through a step-by-step assessment of symptoms based on your personal situation.

2 – Other illnesses and minor ailments

If your child is feeling unwell at home but is not displaying any of the main symptoms of Covid-19, please keep them home until they are feeling better as you normally would. Please inform their Housemaster (MB) or Head of Year (MG) Form Tutor/Class Teacher (MBP MGP MPP) and confirm that they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms. Please keep the Housemaster / Head of Year updated with their progress. Once your son or daughter is feeling well again, they should return to school. There is no need for them to self-isolate or take a Covid-19 test if they do not display one of the 3 symptoms above.

Should your child become unwell for whatever reason while they are at school, they will be taken to the Health and Wellbeing Centre where the medical staff will assess them and offer support and advice as necessary. In the case of MBP and MPP they will be assessed on site and staff will contact you.

I hope that this information is of use to you in assessing your child’s health over the coming weeks. If you would like to speak with a member of the medical staff here at school, please call the following numbers 01600 710407 (MB, MBP, MPP) / 01600 711250 (MG, MGP, MPP).

3 – School Absence

Your son or daughter should continue to attend school unless they have:

  • tested positive for Covid-19
  • have symptoms of Covid-19
  • have been asked to self-isolate by Test, Trace, Protect Wales. If this is the case, please inform the school. Teachers at school will provide your son or daughter with school work to enable them to keep pace with their classes once they have been informed of any absence.

4 – Communication

If a student reports one or more of the symptoms that might be an indicator of Covid-19 while on the school site, all parents of the affected year group will receive written notification from the school. Parents will not receive written notification of students who develop these symptoms while at home for example in the case of day-pupils. The only exception to this is if the student tests positive for Covid-19 in which case further guidance will be given.

5 – Academic Support While Isolating

If your child is self-isolating, they will be contacted by their teachers and given access to materials that will allow them to keep pace with the curriculum. It is expected that teachers, once they have been notified of a pupil’s absence, will provide work within 48 hours, if not before.

Please may I request that students do not contact their teachers directly. Instead, if there is an issue they should contact the tutor in the first instance.

Best wishes,

David Edwards
Senior Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Download full letter (PDF – 165kB)


Letter to Parents – General update – 11th September 2020

Dear Parents,

We have been delighted with how term has started across our schools. Whilst there have been a few unforeseen issues, the detailed planning of recent weeks has helped students return and settle back into a really positive routine. We are most grateful to you all for your patience and support over the last few days.

As you will be aware, we have moved to a new communication platform (My School Portal) which we hope will make future letters, notices, requests and information easier for you to access and store. Please bear with us over the next two weeks as we work to embed this system more fully.

I presented to all teaching and support staff this week to welcome them back and to highlight some plans for our future, building on the important changes which have already been made over recent years. One of the key areas of focus for me is promoting the Health and Wellbeing of all members of our community and especially the pupils in our care. This week, we have opened a new Health and Wellbeing Centre at Monmouth School for Girls and a second one will be introduced at the Boys’ School in the next few months. We have augmented our team so that our nurses, healthcare assistants, counsellors and others can work closely with our doctors to provide the best care possible. Over the course of this year, we will be appointing a Head of Wellbeing to our Leadership team and s/he will be charged with helping to enhance our culture through exciting new initiatives such as an Annual Schools’ Wellbeing Conference with key note speakers and working towards a Standard of Excellence in Wellbeing for our schools.

As you will be aware, there has been a centralisation of key support functions with my appointment last year. We now plan to streamline the key academic functions across the senior schools as well and there are many good reasons for this. We recognise that the two senior schools have different characteristics which we are keen to preserve but we are also keen to share the impressive talent among our academic staff and SMT colleagues to the optimal benefit of both schools. In this light, David Edwards has started as Senior Deputy Head Pastoral working across both senior schools.

The new structure will be fully implemented in September 2021 and this academic year will act as a transition period for some colleagues. The new organisational structure will be:

  • Principal
  • Head MB and Head MG
  • Senior Deputy Head Pastoral – David Edwards
  • Senior Deputy Head Academic – Teaching and Learning – Kath Whiteman
  • Senior Deputy Head Academic- Professional Development – Liz Gregory
  • Head of Boarding (Assistant Head) – Alex Peace
  • Head of Sixth Form (Assistant Head) – Rachel Rees
  • Head of Academic Progress and Digital Learning (Assistant Head) – Darian Evans
  • Head of Wellbeing (Assistant Head)

I hope that you will join me in offering your support to these colleagues as we move towards this new structure. More details will be forthcoming, but I was keen to communicate these changes to you and to start the new school year on a positive message of progress. We now have policies which reflect our family of schools as one institution, as required by Estyn. There will be other key areas to bring together – and some inequalities to address – but we are moving to a good place!

I have written to the members of the Executive Team to challenge them to reflect on the experiences of lockdown and our response to this. Whilst there can be no doubt that our teachers responded superbly well in adapting to new circumstances, and whilst we were pleased with the Remote Learning platform, we recognise that there is a great deal to reflect on so that we are in even better shape in the future. The key areas of focus for us to deliver are:

  • A calm and safe reintegration experience for our pupils
  • Clear, timely and honest communication with you
  • Excellent feedback on your child’s progress
  • Ensuring that applying for financial assistance is accessible and transparent
  • Trying to promote as much extra-curricular activity as possible
  • Harnessing the latest technology for teaching in the classroom and online.

To help facilitate the need to be able to improve classroom teaching and adapt to online provision, we have made a significant investment in rolling forward key elements of our five year ‘IT Strategy’. All teachers now have Surface Pros and fully integrated white boards, while pupils from Year 10 and up are now able to bring their own device to school. This has brought an extra dynamic to classroom teaching and will also ensure we are in a stronger position to deal with any future disruption posed by quarantines or rolling lockdowns.

As ever, I remain available to answer any questions you have.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

Download full letter (PDF – 185kB)


Letter to Parents and Guardians – Travel quarantine update – 8th September 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Just a quick update that quarantine requirements changed again overnight with more countries and regions removed from the safe travel corridor. Please note that it is a legal requirement for all families to adhere to the 14 days self-isolation and we cannot accept children back into school until they have completed this.

For the latest list, please click on this link https://gov.wales/exemptions-self-isolation-coronavirus-covid-19-html

We hope that this will not impact on any of you as we are greatly looking forward to welcoming pupils back for the first full day of term tomorrow.
Best wishes,

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

Download full letter (PDF – 163kB)


Letter to Parents and Guardians – Welcome back to Monmouth – 4th September 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that you have enjoyed a restful and restorative summer. This seems particularly important this year after the challenges that have faced our community. I write on behalf of colleagues here to thank you for your patience and support over the past five months.

We are delighted with the public exam results, achieved in the most challenging of environments. This is a great testament to the inspiration of our staff, combined with the hard work of the students and your support as parents. It gives our schools a great lift as we start the new year.

We know that we will not be returning to the ‘world we knew’. It will be a new challenge for all of our community to try to navigate the new world and I have every confidence that, working together, we can find a positive, new equilibrium.

The most important element of our plan for the new school year is to ensure the safety of every member of our community. To this end Tessa Norgrove, our Bursar, has already published our Risk Assessment which has taken many weeks to write and I am very grateful to her for all her hard work on this. The Risk Assessment can be read on our website. The Risk Assessment remains a ‘live’ document as we will make key changes as advice and experience helps to shape best practice. We have walked the school sites with union representatives who have made important contributions to ensure that we are ready for next week. We will keep you informed.

By now you will have seen the ‘Return to School’ brochures distributed to all parents and students which outlines all the key information and advice for the first few days back at school as well as ongoing guidelines. These are now on our website if you would like to read any of the brochures. I am most grateful to the Heads for their input and to the Marketing Team who designed and distributed the brochures.

Next week Audley Twiston-Davies, our Chair of Governors, Tessa Norgrove, our Bursar and I will be addressing all members of our staff in four separate presentations over the course of Monday and Tuesday. My presentation will be an outline of the plan I am working on for the future of our schools, which have been drawn together as a result of the changes made in our schools in recent years combined with thoughts inspired by conversations with staff and others over my first year here in the community. I would welcome your input to this Plan and I will be setting up Parent Forums this year to hear your views and to listen to your feedback on other elements of our service and how this can be improved. I will be in touch with some dates.

As we return I do write with a word of warning. Currently there are extensive traffic works in Monmouth and these are having an impact on the traffic flow though the town which will have an effect on school journeys and transport. We will keep you informed.

Kind regards,

Mr James Murphy-O’Connor

Download full letter (PDF – 169kB)


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