Covid-19 Policy

Background:

VISP closed it’s doors to students and teaching staff on 16th March 2020, immediately after the announcement of a case of COVID-19 in Seychelles. This was done as precautionary measure and was done prior to the government schools on Praslin making that decision. Cleaning staff remained on site and disinfected the school site from 16th March until 27th March. All classrooms, bathrooms and outdoor surfaces were deep cleaned and disinfected as well as commonly used items like toys and teacher tools. This was done in accordance with WHO guidelines for cleaning which were available at that time. 

VISP had been prepared for this shutdown for some weeks prior to this. Staff meetings had been held and the school had a plan to offer continuity of teaching online should a shutdown happen. This meant that from March 16th we offered a comprehensive programme of online lessons which has been adopted by many of our students. In addition, the school board had met on 13th March for a special meeting to discuss all aspects of the possible impact of COVID-19. 

VISP closed for our annual long holiday on 17th July and will reopen again on 7th September to staff, with students returning one day later. During this time, the site was once again deep cleaned and disinfected, including all office, teaching aids and toys. 

Prior to opening on 11th May:

  • A preliminary meeting and inspection was held between Mr Howell and Public Health Officers. This was to discuss the essential tasks to be done before opening and training to be carried out.
  • The school site and all classrooms and offices were disinfected in late March and no teachers had access to the school since then. However, cleaning staff will be in full time from the week beginning 4th May in order to fully disinfect the site again. 
  • The school was professionally fumigated to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.
  • An email was circulated to all parents outlining the VISP action plan for reopening, the parents guidelines to COVID-19 and the students guidelines for COVID-19.
  • The Ministry of Education guidelines published for staff was circulated prior to 4th May and all staff will be briefed on the key points during a full staff meeting on May 4th
  • The school produced and put on display a range of age appropriate signage to encourage healthy practice during this time. Signs will include age appropriate advice on hand washing, social distancing etc. These will be on display in the canteen, and in all classrooms and toilets.
  • On Wednesday 6th May, Public Health Officers from Baie Ste Anne addressed the full staff team on COVID-19 and how to contain it’s spread. Health Officers briefed staff on hand washing techniques and this was passed on to students. As part of this visit, an inspection of cleaning practices was carried out and feedback given on how to improve.
  • A separate sickbay was be established for use only by staff or students who we suspect of having COVID-19 symptoms. This room is isolated in a discreet part of the school. 
  • School management have adapted our structure for dealing with mental / psychosocial effects. All staff have received training and advice on dealing with students mental health at this time. 
  • Policy was drawn up as to the process for dealing with a student or staff member who we suspect of having COVID-19. This policy is outlined at the end of this document and has been approved by the Public Health office.

Prior to 7th September:

  • The school site and all classrooms and offices were disinfected.
  • The school was professionally fumigated to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.
  • An email will circulated to all parents outlining the updated VISP action plan for COVID-19, the parents guidelines to COVID-19 and the students guidelines for COVID-19.
  • All staff will be reminded of the policies in place during this time. 

On 8th September:

  • All students will receive guidance of best practice for handwashing and respiratory etiquette. This will take place in class groups by class teachers who will have been trained by Public Health Officers. This will be reinforced regularly and rewards given for students who show high levels and competence and commitment to this.
  • All students will receive age appropriate guidance on social distancing. This will be reinforced and monitored at all times by teaching staff and staff on duty at unstructured times. 
  • All staff, students and parents entering the school site have their temperature taken at the entrance to the school. Any temperature above 37.5 Celsius will not be admitted to the school site. 
  • All staff, students and parents will be redirected to the sports centre toilets upon arrival at school in the morning. Entrance to the school site will only be allowed after handwashing has occurred. 
  • Parents are encouraged not to enter the school site unless it is necessary to do so.
  • Site visitors during the school day must have their temperature taken and hands sanitised before entering the school site. A record will be kept of anyone who enters the school site during the day.
  • Staff will monitor and ensure that all students wash hands before and after morning snack time and before and after lunch. This will be done using running water and soap.
  • Parents will be reminded of the urgent need to alert the school if someone in their household is suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Within the first few days of returning to school, all students will have age appropriate education on COVID-19. This will include mental health and wellbeing alongside the obvious health issues. 

Ongoing school policy changes:

  • No assemblies
  • Where possible, students will remain in the same classroom throughout the day. This reduces greatly the risk of infection. They will leave only for lessons which require specialist facilities such as Science or PE and for snack / lunch time. Specialist rooms like the science lab will be disinfected between being used by different classes. 
  • Post-Secondary and Secondary students who can usually leave the school site at lunch time will no longer be allowed to do this.
  • Classrooms to be re-arranged to ensure gaps between all desks. 
  • To reduce contact between students, Secondary and Post-Secondary students will report directly to their tutor room upon arrival in school. Break and lunch times are offset to reduce the number of students who have the possibility to interact. 
  • All classrooms will have hand sanitiser which can be dispensed by a teacher. 
  • External sports training and parental meetings can now take place in school following the procedure of temperature checks, hand washing and a record of attendance kept. 
  • Weekly briefing to staff will include details on both the global and national health situation and changes to take note of. School management will keep updated via reputable news sources on any developments. 
  • Parents will be updated regularly via email and letters home as to any changes in national or school policy. This will happen immediately once any changes occur. 
  • School management will monitor attendance of staff and students and relay any concerns to local health authorities. 

Ongoing measures to ensuring a safe environment:

  • Disinfection of all surfaces daily. This will include but not be limited to desks, door handles, sports equipment, IT equipment and teaching resources. 
  • Cleaning of school toilets and hand washing facilities 3 times daily.
  • Cleaning of the school dining facilities 3 times daily.
  • All staff, students and parents will need to wash their hands before entering the school site. Students will also be made to wash hands before and after each morning snack and lunch time. 
  • All classrooms will have good air circulation either with open windows or air conditioning.
  • Daily removal of all refuse. 

Contingency for future closure:

In the event of further closure due to COVID-19, the school will resume it’s online teaching service. This was well subscribed to during this shutdown and enabled students to continue making progress through the curriculum. Staff will continue to plan for delivery via this medium if required. 

In addition, in the event of a further shutdown, all students will be issued with a paper pack of work, designed to cover 2 weeks of learning. This will help facilitate students without internet access. This will also allow a few days for staff to set up the online platform and upload work. 

Policy for dealing with a staff member or student who becomes sick with COVID-19 symptoms (approved by Public Health Commissioner):

Any staff or students who are sick are encouraged not to attend school. All rewards and incentives for good attendance will be removed and all will be urged to take a cautious approach. If in doubt, stay at home. Parents should inform the school of any absence and a record taken in order for us to begin to observe any pattern. 

Parents will also be notified and regularly reminded of the need to inform us if anyone in their household is suspected of COVID-19. If this happens we will seek advice from local health authorities. 

If a student or staff member becomes ill during the day with either a high temperature or continuous cough the following steps will be observed:

  • Student or staff member affected will be immediately sent to the isolation sick bay. Whilst in the sick bay, staff can communicate with the students or colleague whilst remaining at a safe distance. No staff member should have physical direct contact with a student or colleague who is suspected of having COVID-19 symptoms. They should not go with 2m of them at any time.
  • A family member will be contacted immediately and asked to collect the student or staff member. They will be asked to immediately visit the Baie Ste Anne hospital for tests. School staff will remain in close contact with the family in order to ascertain the outcome of any tests. VISP will report any such cases to local health authorities.
  • A deep clean and full disinfection of the isolation sick bay will be carried out after departure. 
  • All classmates of that students, or students who have been in contact with that staff member will remain in their current classroom until the outcome of the hospital tests are confirmed or until the end of the school day. 
  • If there is any doubt on the outcome of those tests, all classmates and teachers who have had direct contact with that student will be asked not to attend school until the outcome of any tests is confirmed. 
  • In the event of a positive confirmed case of COVID-19 at VISP, the school will close until it is safe to do so. The online schooling contingency plan will take effect at that point.