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Oakhill News
Early School Closure

Early School Closure

Dear Parents, Guardians, Caregivers and Students
Update 15 March 2020: EARLY SCHOOL CLOSURE and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With the letter that went out on Friday we mentioned that we needed to be nimble, I don’t think we realised how nimble we needed to be. An emergency board meeting was held on Sunday afternoon to decide on the school’s course of action as regards the coronavirus in light of changing circumstances and new information.

Although we have still not yet had our first case of Covid-19 diagnosed in the Garden Route, by all accounts and projections it is a matter of time, and that is pure maths. We need to be proactive and possibly even over-reactive in order to minimise the infection rate in our community. This goes against everything we said on Friday but the changed landscape warrants different actions.

The advice coming through is that the key action is to slow down the rate of infection by limiting gatherings. Social distancing flattens the infection curve and can prevent entire communities from contracting the virus – here is a link to a great article in the Washington Post that visually attempts to show such effects – https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

As a result, we have decided to close the school from after school on Tuesday 17th March 2020. This means the holidays will start early. By remaining open for the first two days of this week we are going to be preparing our remote educational technology rollout. Matrics are the exception and the school will be communicating independently with them with a view to finishing their term 1 curriculum both online and in smaller groups.

Teachers will be required at the school for the entire week for preparation and training in remote education. The Head of College will liaise directly with matric teachers to make themselves available into the following week for the matrics.

In addition, we have taken the following decisions:

1. Travellers

Changed from Friday. For anyone arriving back in South Africa from another country where localised transmission has occurred:

  • We request that you do not come on to the school premises for the rest of term 1. Please follow the NICD guidelines: ( http://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/covid-19/ )
  • If you present with the clinical symptoms of a cough, high temperature, sore throat and shortness of breath you are requested to self-isolate and implement safety measures to prevent transmission
  • If your child/ren have come in contact with any of the above travellers please be prepared to self-isolate whether or not they present with the symptoms
  • Please let the Head of College/Prep know about any upcoming travel arrangements
2. Visitors

We continue to ask that no one visits the school if they have a cough, high temperature, sore throat and shortness of breath. Although these are the key symptoms they do not necessarily mean you have Covid-19 but we need to be proactive.

3. Events and Festivals (Please Note)
  • Continuing as planned
    ■ Co – curricular activities on Monday and Tuesday as normal
  • Looking at rescheduling – final decisions to be made soon with organisers
    ■ Argentinian tour
    ■ St Alban’s hockey festival
  • Postponed to later in the year
    ■ Foundation phase play
  • Cancelled
    ■ German students coming to South Africa on exchange (2020)
    ■ Foundation phase play dress rehearsals
    ■ Matric POMO (Masquerade)
    ■ AGM
    ■ Grade 12 history tour to Cape Town
    ■ College Co-Ed hockey festival next weekend
    ■ Our participation in the u13 Backward Point hockey festival
    ■ Grade 9 camp
    ■ First team netball tour to Cape Town
    ■ Parent interviews across the grades – if really necessary, these will be conducted telephonically in individual cases
    ■ Durbanville hockey games on Wednesday 15th

We continue to be mindful of the fact that the information being shared may cause concern or even panic, this is not our intention. Transparency is paramount. Our response comes with the appropriate level of debate and calm, however we feel that we need to change tack as information and advice changes. It continues to be imperative that community members respect one another, assist each other and support those families that may be impacted.

As we have said, the information changes daily. We are prepared to act and react as we become aware of any further developments that may impact our school community. In other words, this may change again tomorrow, the situation is fluid. We thank you for your cooperation and support of our protocols, the health and safety of our teachers, students and the community remains our highest priority as always.

Yours sincerely,
Gordon Shutte
Oakhill Board vice-chairman

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