05 Jun 2020

A Message from the Head, 5 June 2020

Alex HemsDear parents and guardians

Plans for returning to school in August and bringing girls back on a full time basis.

Thank you very much to all of you who completed our questionnaire about some of the practical aspects of returning to school; it has been extremely helpful to read your comments and questions, some of which I hope that I shall be able to answer in this letter.

We are working on our plans for return in August and in particular a plan that will enable us to bring all girls back on a full time basis, if they are able to be here, from the start of term. This is our aim, and we will do our best to achieve it for as long as necessary. Please be aware that this model requires very high levels of staffing; if some of our staff become unwell or are required to self-isolate under the track and trace procedures for example, there may be periods when this model will be difficult to sustain, although of course we hope that this will not be the case. We are aware that there will be some girls who are not able to attend school, and provision will be made for them.

I know that you will wish to know as much as possible about how this will work. I hope to have a more detailed document to share with you by the final full week of term. We are aware, however, that plans will have to remain flexible as government guidance may alter over the summer. We will publish a full Return to School handbook in August, as well as guidance on how to help your daughters to prepare for return.

Safety considerations are at the heart of all our planning and so the broad principles with which we are working are:

  • increased facilities for hand hygiene across the site
  • continued reminders about good cough protocols
  • additional cleaning regimes during the school day
  • minimising student movement around the site
  • minimising mixing of groups of students
  • a one-way system of movement in the buildings
  • desks spaced in classrooms to allow for 2m distancing
  • no changing of clothes during the day - girls will come into school in PE kit if they have PE/ Sport during the day
  • no sharing of personal items eg stationery
  • wearing only clothes that can be easily washed – no blazers
  • opportunity to wear masks or face coverings
  • flexibility around start times to allow for delays on public transport
  • staggered arrival times for pupils
  • using outdoor learning as much as possible
  • clear information published and displayed about symptoms of Covid-19
  • clear procedures in place for anyone who becomes unwell at school

This is not a comprehensive list, but illustrates the sorts of things that we are taking into account. Many of you have asked about the arrangements that will be in place on the school buses. We are working on this at the moment and will be able to let you know more before the end of term.

Our boarding families will be keen to know about arrangements in Houldsworth. Mrs Bryce will be in contact in the course of next week with more detailed information about routines and arrangements for our boarders. I can confirm, however, that a great deal of work has been done this week to create an environment in Houldsworth which embraces social distancing and all necessary safety requirements, while still keeping the warmth and home-from-home spirit that you have come to associate with house life, very much at its heart.

Finally, I am able to let you know that the School Council of St George’s, our governing body, have confirmed that there will be no increase to your tuition or boarding fees for next academic session. I would like to thank you all for your commitment to the school, and the support that you have given, through your feedback and kind messages, which have been much appreciated. I have been deeply impressed by the resilience and adaptability that your daughters have shown throughout this time and look forward immensely to welcoming them back through the doors of school in August.

With my best wishes to you all,

Mrs Alex Hems MA Oxon
Head, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh

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