Update: Planning for September

Friday May 22, 2020

Concord is now planning for re-opening in September for both boarders and day students. Please see the message below from Principal Mr Neil Hawkins: Planning is ongoing and is informed by UK government guidance, the WHO and from the UK Boarding Schools Association.  All aspects of Concord practice will be risk-assessed in the light of the challenge of the virus.  It will be Concord’s aim to reduce and minimise such risk, though it is not possible to eradicate risk completely.
  1. All boarding students will be accommodated in single bedrooms throughout the 2020-21 academic year.  There will be no shared bedrooms.
  2. Returning boarding students will be able to arrive at Concord on Tuesday 1st September. New boarding students will arrive at Concord on Thursday 3rd September.  Our plans for the period after this depend on updates in government policy, and are subject to change, but we are planning to:
  • Test students for Covid-19 on arrival (with results available within hours).
  • Isolate boarding students where necessary.
  • Undertake regular temperature checks.
  • Start lessons slightly earlier than advertised on 8th September. For the first week of term, lessons are likely to be a hybrid of online and face-to-face.  This earlier start to teaching will give additional time for learning to make up for time lost as a result of the virus.  Any student unable to join classes will do so online.
  • Day students will be expected in Concord on Monday 7th September for a Covid-19 test and to join lessons on September 8th either in college or online depending on their test results.
    1. All boarding students will be allowed to stay at Concord during Winter and Easter holidays (for which charges will be made).  This will assist families who may be facing repeated quarantining measures that could be associated with international travel in the year ahead.
    2. Social distancing measures will be introduced at Concord.  These are likely to include:
      • Reducing class sizes to the level recommended by the UK government.  This has not been agreed for secondary schools, but for primary children it has been set at 15.
      • One-way systems will be introduced within College buildings as appropriate and possible.
      • The staggering of meal times will be introduced to allow a degree of social distancing.
      • The avoidance of situations in which crowds might form.
      • The education of all our community to stay a safe distance apart.
      • The encouragement of group activities in the open air (as far as the UK’s weather allows).
    3. Staff and students will be encouraged to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) during the school day and at social times.
    4. Students and staff will be given training on how best to avoid the virus.  This will be monitored and reinforced throughout the year.
    5. Detailed plans are being put in place for the management of a possible case of the virus within the Concord community.   A number of stand-alone bedroom pods have been acquired to offer additional space for boarding student isolation.
    6. Antibody testing is also being explored.  If this becomes available and is shown to be reliable I may well ask all families to consider such testing for their child prior to arrival: such information would be invaluable in assisting the effective care of individuals and of the community in the year ahead.
    Concord’s ethos rests on harmony and international understanding.  These values will underpin our approach to the virus: we are all in this together and we will overcome it together.  In response to general concerns raised by a number of international parents regarding attitude at UK boarding schools, any suggestion of racially motivated bullying will not be tolerated.  Staff will be vigilant for such behaviour and students educated to act with kindness and decency. Parents will receive regular updates from Concord in the weeks and months ahead either to affirm these plans or to notify you of any amendments.  As September comes closer, we will be releasing the detailed arrangements that will enable us to put our plans into effect and we will adapt to the evolving situation.    Please contact the college if you have any questions. We want to reassure all parents that their children will be in safe hands in September.  Our response will be flexible, professional and proportionate.  Most important, it is our intention - in spite of the challenges we face - that all students should enjoy their education and their time at Concord.  This is an essential element of well-being, of growth and of life.