No school which has not specifically been advised to close (for example for deep cleaning) is being compelled to close to all pupils from Friday 20th March. Edinburgh Steiner School will therefore remain open, as far as possible, and provided it is safe to do so, for pupils whose parents are ‘key workers,’ and for ‘vulnerable pupils.’
The definition of ‘vulnerable’ is clear, and we will be working with the Wellbeing Team to identify those pupils as soon as possible. Overseas visiting pupils are automatically classed as ‘vulnerable.’ The definition of ‘key worker’ (this does not have to be both parents/carers) is not so clear, but John Swinney described these workers as those who perform ‘key tasks in the community and make a critical contribution to the economy’. Advice we have received from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship also suggests that schools do have ‘discretion’.
The School has sent all parents a questionnaire to gather information about key worker status. This will allow us to compile a list of those pupils who will be able to come to school from next Monday, should parents wish them to come. There is no requirement for the Kindergarten or any other part of the School to close to all pupils.
For pupils not able to attend school, remote learning will begin as soon as possible. Contingency plans for the setting of work and contact between teachers and pupils are staged:
Stage 1: Bespoke remote learning and pre-set work will be delivered by Class Teachers and exam/subject teachers over the next 10 days. There will be a wide variety of approaches in Stage 1, especially in the Lower School. In the Upper School, the Class 9 VLE will begin delivering a programme as soon as possible after final testing. In Class 10, the Climatology Main Lesson will continue and pupils will be contacted about the tasks they should undertake. In Classes 11 and 12, the majority of pupils still have coursework assessments and assignments to complete and their teachers will remain in contact with them to advise and assist.
Stage 2: Preparations are underway for a more comprehensive and consistent remote learning programme to be delivered in the summer term. All pupils from Class 4 upwards will have school email addresses created for them. This will allow lessons to be delivered in a virtual form safely, whilst being compatible with GDPR. Various platforms are being considered for the ‘whole school’ VLE and are now being tested. The Upper School Main Lesson schedule is being redesigned to allow some main lessons to be delivered remotely during the summer term.
The School has a duty to ensure that pupils’ health is not put at unnecessary risk from, for example, infectious diseases. Parents should inform the School immediately if their child is diagnosed with or suspected of having an infectious disease. The School may decide to inform some or all parents of children in the School, usually via email.
The School does not have to accept a child in school at times where it would be detrimental to the health of that child or others to do so.
Amendment: specific protocols are now in place for how the School should respond if there is a case of COVID-19 within the school community, or where a pupil or staff member is self-isolating as a result of a case, or suspected case, in their immediate family. The Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS), on the advice of government, has advised us that any member of the school community referred to the Health Protection Team must have their confidentiality respected. The School will not, therefore, release any details of any individuals referred to the Health Protection Team in relation to COVID-19.
The School’s ‘infectious diseases’ policy, which forms part of the Medication Policy continues to apply, but with an amendment (below).
Measures in place to ‘delay’
In addition to the measures implemented at Edinburgh Steiner School earlier this month (regular hand-washing for pupils and staff; sanitising of surfaces) hand santiser dispensers have now been installed at the entrance to each of the main buildings and Kindergarten, and pupils are making full use of this facility. Do The Five: Help stop coronavirus notices put up around campus:
1 HANDS Wash them often
2 ELBOW Couugh into it
3 FACE Don’t touch it
4 FEET Stay more than 3ft (1m) apart
5 FEEL sick? Stay home.
From Friday 20th March, face-to-face education stopped for all pupils other than children of ‘key workers’ and ‘vulnerable’ pupils, and those attending at the ‘discretion’ of the School.
Exams and Prelims
The DFM’s statement confirmed that the final SQA exam diet this year has been cancelled. However, SQA exam courses have not been cancelled and units and course requirements must be completed on time (there is as yet no clarity for GCSEs, other than that the final exam diet has been cancelled). Certification for SQA exam course may be brought forward, but remains August 4th.
All SQA candidates will be sent details of how to sign up to MySQA in due course by the SQA Coordinator and the exam board is urging candidates to take advantage of this facility. It is therefore essential that SQA exam candidates complete all their internal assessments and assignments as this will now form the basis of their course award (grade). There is no change to the prelim schedule or schedule for coursework assessments at Edinburgh Steiner
John Edward of SCIS made it clear yesterday that school buildings may continue to be used for the purposes of formal assessments, although additional health and hygiene measures, and additional ‘distancing’ will apply at Edinburgh Steiner School from Monday 23rd SQA candidates should assume, unless they hear otherwise, that any planned prelim or coursework assessment is to proceed as planned, in the location where these events were
planned (although, on arrival, candidates may find that the venue will change).
The College of Teachers met on Thursday 12th March to discuss contingency planning and implement aspects of the pre-existing Business Continuity Plan. In line with government advice, all parts of Edinburgh Steiner School will remain open for children of ‘key workers’, ‘vulnerable’ pupils and pupils attending at the ‘discretion of the School’, unless specifically advised to close, or staffing levels are such that the School concludes it cannot operate safely. Our contingency planning therefore imagines a scenario where staffing and teacher numbers might be much reduced, or where significant numbers of pupils need to stay at home for extended periods.
In the case of significant staff and teacher shortages:
- Classes might have to be combined. Plans for how this would work, practically, are in the process of being prepared. This approach has been used in the past (for example in 2010)
- Kindergarten Groups may be combined. A special ‘rhythm’ is being devised should this be necessary
- Timetables may be altered: some normal or planned activities might not take place in order to free up staff to cover lessons and maintain basic provision throughout the school day, or because of the nature of those activities
- Changes may be made to ‘Exam Leave’ in Classes 10 and 11
In the case of pupils having to stay at home:
- In the Upper School, pupils and exam candidates are working with their teachers to agree the best form of ‘remote learning’, either very basically via email, or through file sharing or other appropriate means. It is not clear at this stage whether a school ‘closure’ means that, for example, exam candidates cannot choose to come into school to see their teachers, should teachers and pupils agree to this
- Exam teachers have been asked to work with their candidates to find and submit any assessed work from during the year/course. This includes any classroom tests, marked homework, practice papers etc. The SQA has reiterated that while prelim ‘evidence’ is the most valuable for any candidate who misses a final exam, if this evidence is not available then, in extremis, they will consider any candidate work
- Upper School pupils, especially exam candidates, are being urged to keep their text books, notes and exam materials at home and bring in what they need day to day
- In Class 9, preparations for a teacher-led Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) are well advanced
- In the Lower School, teachers will be asked to devise project work, and set that in advance for any pupil who needs to stay at home for an extended period
Acting on advice from government, College took the decision on Thursday 12th March to formally cancel or indefinitely postpone a number of planned overseas trips, or visits from schools overseas. This decision was taken with a heavy heart because trips are at the core of our pupils’ educational experience.
Some parents have questioned, quite legitimately, why the School has appeared to delay taking decisions in relation to trips. Part of the reason is related to insurance. In some cases, the School can only claim insurance for trips which have been booked and paid for once it has become clear that a ‘do not travel’ warning is in place—and different insurers have different policies. Certain other trips, those scheduled towards the end of the summer term, have not been ‘cancelled’ officially because there may be no benefit in bringing forward the cancellation. We will keep these trips under active review. The parents of those Classes affected will be kept up to date by Class Teachers and Guardians.