Habsmonmouth Online

Welcoming you back safely to school

Welcome back to Monmouth Schools Boarding

Dear Parents,

I hope you and your families are well. Returning to school at the start of the academic year is always filled with a healthy balance of excitement, anticipation and some inevitable adrenaline, too.

As we open our boarding houses, we appreciate that this may well also be an anxious time for boarding parents.

We are reopening our boarding facilities in a safe and positive way, balancing the sensible, practical safety measures that we can easily implement to protect our boarders, with the need for them to return to familiar, friendly, homely and positive surroundings. We have been able to consider each boarding house as one household, but we have built in additional layering to assist with our overall aims. We have given careful consideration to how we can reduce contact and minimise potential for transmission within our households.

We are very much looking forward to greeting our boarders and ensuring that they have a smooth transition into boarding life.

May I take this opportunity to send you our best wishes from Monmouth and hope your child has a very safe journey and a happy start to the new term.

Kind regards,

Mr Alex Peace
Head of Boarding

Guiding principles linked to Welsh Assembly Guidance:

  • Ensure that any staff member or learner who has symptoms or who is tested positive for Covid-19, or who has someone in their household who has symptoms or has tested positive for Covid-19, does not attend the school setting.
  • Ensure good respiratory and hand hygiene. Promote the ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ approach.
  • Increased cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often.
  • Minimise contact between individuals.
  • Maintain social distancing where possible.

Arrivals at the start of term

Arrivals at each house are naturally staggered over two days in several categories, minimising arrival clusters and allowing House staff to support individual boarders:

  • Years 7, 8 and prep (Junior Houses) day 1.
  • Years 9, 12 and New boarders on other year groups day 1.
  • Years 10, 11, 13 day 2.
  • School airport transfers staggered throughout both days.
  • Pupils who have already been here for 14 days quarantine.

Housemasters and Houseparents will manage arrivals within these groups. We ask for extra patience as you may be asked to wait for a short while to unload luggage once you let us know you are here.

Alternative entrances may be marked for different year groups, but house staff will direct you.

Should parents need to use the toilet, there will be a designated facility on the main school site (Chapel House will allocate one visitor facility in the entrance).

Dropping off an existing boarder

We hope to reduce adult contacts by asking that parents do not enter the boarding house. We will not be offering our usual chance for parents to socialise with staff and other families.

When you arrive, please park on site and phone the house. We may ask you to wait before unloading.

A ‘public room’ or the house garden (weather dependent) will be available, should you wish to speak to a member of house staff by arrangement on arrival. House staff will control the number of people in the room together. We encourage masks to be worn for interactions with staff.

Dropping off a new boarder/ boarder moving up into a new house

We understand the wellbeing benefit associated with being settled in by parents (both for pupil and parent) and the balance against risk. When you arrive, please park on site and phone the house. We may ask you to wait for a short while before you unload bags.

House staff will allow parents into the house and to their child’s bedroom through a designated entrance and route.

This will be for a maximum 15 minutes.

No other pupils or families will be present in the child’s room at this time.

We ask parents to sanitise hands and wear a face mask and refrain from touching surfaces.

The house garden (weather dependent) or a reception room will be available, should you wish to speak to a member of house staff.

It is understandable that parents sometimes find it hard to pick a moment and say farewell but we politely ask that parents depart promptly at this time; we will ensure your child is not on their own.

Arrivals from overseas and quarantine requirements

We opened a boarding quarantine facility on the 24th August for overseas students returning from countries not on the government exempt list. Please request our Habs Monmouth quarantine guidance booklet for further information about how this facility operated.

Many boarders have returned early to self-isolate along with a number of pupils who returned early, having booked as a precaution.
Pupils requiring isolation will be fully supported in single occupancy rooms with designated bathroom facilities which are separate from other boarders.

Our travel coordinator liaises with families and maintains records and flight details which enables us to support our boarders travel requirements.

Airport transfers to Monmouth

The majority of overseas boarders return on our private, airport transfer service on school arranged accompanied by school staff travel escorts and managed by our travel coordinator. Full details are emailed separately to individuals from the boarding secretary prior to departure. Safety measures are in place for the journey from the airport and full details can be requested by parents.

Boarding houses – arrangement of pupils

Whilst guidance states that a boarding house constitutes as household, we will take additional steps to reduce the risk of infection spread throughout our households. We will, wherever possible, manage boarders within three layers of house-bubbles. Housemasters and Houseparents have taken their individual house structures into consideration when planning safety measures to reduce transmission risks within the house population.

The house-bubbles (HBs) are as follows:

House bubble Level 1: The boarding house /household.
Distancing between pupils.
House bubble Level 2: The year group within the house (also common with lesson groups)
Distancing where possible.
House bubble Level 3: The small group sharing bedrooms and bathrooms (identified by colours within the household, with doors marked to correspond).These divisions will enable us to quickly manage and isolate groups of pupils appropriately in line with Public Health Wales guidance should there be a possible or confirmed case in the school year group or household. They will steer decision making and risk assessments for boarding activities and daily life in the house.

Boarding houses – further safety measures

Please note: there will be local variation within houses as our house teams work dynamically to support their households

Each house team has considered all reasonable measures that can be taken within their individual building. The following measures have been considered and pupils will received individual house details for their own household. An overview of measures is provided here:

  • Entrances will be either one way or year group specific.
  • Stairs will be one-way where possible.
  • Common rooms will be allocated to year groups with additional facilities provided where necessary.
  • Access to house kitchens will be controlled by time allocation to ensure house bubble level 2 sharing, with increased cleaning of contact areas.
  • Access to laundry rooms will be in allocated times with additional cleaning.
  • All toilets/bathrooms will belong to a house bubble level 3 group (colour).
  • Additional hand sanitisers installed in key areas.Provision of break-time food by matron. Matron will provide toast and hot drinks to minimise pupils touching utensils (MB only).
  • No whole house assemblies unless an appropriate large venue is booked. Small groups will be addressed.
  • Regular meetings with smaller groups to reinforce message to boarders.
  • Signage to inform and remind boarders and House Staff of symptoms of Covid-19 and what to do if they suspect infection [NB WAG guidance does not recommend temperature screening].
  • House roll calls will be in year groups or conducted by duty staff visiting pupil rooms.

Flexi boarders/Day boarders

We will consider requests for flexi boarding on an individual basis and assess the measures we are able to implement for each pupil before accepting flexi or day boarders. If we are satisfied that we will be able to manage the contact and restrict it to one bubble in line with day class bubbles, along with maintaining distancing, we will accommodate flexi boarders. All requests will go to the boarding secretary and be considered by the Head of Boarding in conjunction with the Housemaster/Houseparent. We anticipate that we will not, therefore, be able to accommodate all requests.

Visitors and visits to other houses

Pupils will not be permitted to visit other houses or receive guests within the boarding house.

Tutor groups

Boys – your child will be supported by his house’s academic tutor in the same way but he may have a temporary change of house tutor as boys will be in year groups. This will only affect a small number of boarders. Each tutor will be allocated a tutor room within the school year group zone.

Girls – normal tutor groups will continue in the normal way but rooms will be allocated within the school year group zone.

Room allocations

There may mean some alteration to normal room allocation patterns. Sensible decisions will be made by house staff regarding rooming. We will allocate single rooms where possible with a priority for pupils identified with higher risk (please discuss with house staff).

Mealtimes

There will be two sittings for breakfast and supper, with up to 2 houses only per sitting in separate sides of the dining room with separate serveries in operation.

Pupils will be allocated tables for their house bubble level 3 groups and these will remain the same throughout this term.

Activity programme

We have planned an alternative structure for our weekend boarding activities to ensure there are opportunities for our boarders, making the most of our superb local countryside and school facilities. We will continually review and update our provision and consider year group options along with household bubbles when transporting pupils.

On the first weekend, all boarders in Year 9 and below, along with all new boarders, will canoe from Monmouth to Whitebrook on the River Wye. Pupils will be collected in minibus bubbles on their return and will be boated accordingly.

All activities will be updated on our school calendar.

We have booked the school sports facilities, including astroturf, sports hall and swimming pool, for additional sessions each weekend. Boys will have access as a whole household or year group.

Town time

We will continually review what is safest for our boarders regarding visiting town. There will likely be some additional measures and time restrictions for certain age groups as we aim to minimise contact with members outside out of the school bubble.

Exeats (Monmouth boys only) and half term

We will remain open for students who cannot make safe arrangements with their usual guardians and host families for exeat weekends this term.

There will be a fee and details will be sent out shortly. In order to plan, we will ask for an early indication of whether you will require this provision. Similarly, we are also planning a provision for half term and will send details out in the near future.


Please note that details are subject to change.

Updated: 1 September 2020