By Tom Packer Associate, Independent Schools Portal & Former Headmaster, Teesside High School
Back in 2009, Teesside High School contracted an epidemic of the H1N1 Virus (“Swine ’Flu”). This occurred right in the middle of the GCSE and “A” level examinations. The decision to close the school, taken jointly by the School and the Health Protection Agency, was made at 1130 on the Sunday at the end of the summer half term. By 1300 the Prep. School Hall had been transformed int a clinic dispensing anti-viral drugs to pupils, parents, staff and the local population. A full-scale communication exercise was underway and plans in place to run the examinations in a safe environment with minimum anxiety to candidates. At the same time the media were on the scene actively scrutinising events.
The school’s response to the outbreak was described by the Health Protection Agency as a Model of Excellence and the Action Plan devised by the school was disseminated by the local NHS Trusts and adopted and by all schools in the region.
ISP Associate, Tom Packer, Headmaster at the time, devised and implemented the plan whilst travelling back from the half term break (bear in mind that this was in the days before email was available on mobile devices).
Tom is willing to share his experience by advising individual schools on the steps they might wish to consider when planning for a possible outbreak of Corona Virus.
The decision to close the school is taken at very short notice. Whilst most schools will have in place various Crisis Management Policies, the difficulty here is letting everyone know about their roles and responsibilities in a very short time frame. Few, if any, will have committed the policy to memory!
1Prevention – this is clearly better than cure. Schools are advised to follow heath guidelines and follow developments closely.
2Preparation. Being well prepared is crucial. In particular what to do if there are isolated cases, and what will happen if there is a school wide epidemic. Here are some areas to consider:
Formulate or revise the Plan itself:
Decide: What will happen, who will do what.
Check: phone records up to date; insurance cover is appropriate and adequate.
Ensure: the plan is well understood by everyone and what their part is in it.
Warn: parents and pupils.
3Action. When the plan is implemented these are some things to get right immediately:
Communication. How will the school communicate decisions and plans to parents, staff, pupils and others and by whom.
Damage Limitation. Then there’s ongoing monitoring, reporting and communicating.
4Aftermath. It’s important to foresee and plan for possible consequences.
To speak with Tom, please use the contact form below.