Our response to coronavirus – Stanmore


The coronavirus COVID-19 is causing understandable concern among our families, and I’m keen to ensure you are familiar with the steps Newington is taking to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of our boys, staff and community.

Information about coronavirus changes by the day and we are keeping abreast of advice from the Department of HealthNSW Health, the World Health Organisation and other reliable authorities. Links to these organisations will be readily available to the Newington community via this section on Spaces, along with all information related to Covid-19 as it relates to Newington.

I have put together some potential questions and answers below. As a rule, we will not do less than what is recommended by the Australian Department of Health and the NSW Department of Education. We may choose to do more.

How will we know if there is a case at the College?

We will be notified by the Department of Health if we have a confirmed case or someone who has been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case.

How concerned should we be for our children?

To quote a well-known slogan, we should be alert but not alarmed. As adults, we have experienced major health events in the past (swine flu, ebola) and have a level of understanding that young people, inevitably, do not.

It is our role to not over-react … or under-react.

We can get by without a wall full of toilet paper. We should also be aware that the voracity of the news cycle can heighten a sense of emergency in our children that they do not need to feel. When we speak to our children, we should stress that prudent, cautious – even super-cautious – measures should not be conflated with a sense of emergency.

What we can tell our children

Listening to their concerns and addressing them with facts is a good way to provide a sense of calm and perspective.

Of course, not every young person will react in the same way. Many might not show outward signs of concern. Some might be anxious. In all cases, clear, factual and sensitive communication is a good way to manage these feelings. It is important that they understand most children and young people experience coronavirus as a cold or flu.

Many groups are working on vaccines and public health measures. Explain that there may be significant disruption to our lives – but it will not be permanent.

Boys anxious about any potential disadvantage they might suffer (for example, to their HSC year) should also understand this will be ameliorated by the fact that most people of the same age will be experiencing the same thing.

Honesty and accuracy are really important. We will also use mentor groups to help separate fact from fallacy among our students.

Mental health

If your son is experiencing feelings of anxiety and you are concerned for his wellbeing, please let us know so we can provide support to him through our pastoral care teams.

What steps are being taken by Newington?

The College leadership group has a working plan that is being refined daily as the situation changes and new information becomes available. We are closely monitoring public health and education advice, knowing full well that in some ways we operate under their umbrella.

We have put in place several specific measures.


Boys are being asked to wash their hands frequently, not to touch their faces and to cough into their elbows or into a tissue (before disposing of it).  We advise them not to wear masks as a preventative measure. Medical advice is that masks are useful if you are sick to stop the spread of coronavirus …  but if you are sick you should not be at school.

Shaking hands and other physical contact is being discouraged. If your son shows any cold or flu symptoms, please keep him at home. He should not come to Saturday sport as a player or a spectator, but please do keep the relevant sport director informed.

We have increased the frequency of cleaning of doors, handrails, classrooms, locker rooms, bathrooms and indoor sport facilities.

Additional sanitiser stations are being installed across all campuses. If you have been to your local supermarket, you will know sanitiser is in short supply, but we are still receiving deliveries at this stage.

We have distributed a video, which will no doubt be mocked by Year 9, that illustrates how to wash your hands effectively.

Signs explaining good hygiene practices are being installed across the College as a reminder to both students and staff, and mentor sessions will reinforce their importance.

What about tours, major sport events and large gatherings?

Overseas tours scheduled for the April break have been cancelled. We are monitoring interstate tours and overseas tours planned for later in the year and will communicate with the relevant parents as the picture becomes clearer.

We are still promoting tours planned for December. Payment for them will not be due until a few months before departure. Please be aware that refunds will depend on the particular policy of each tour provider.

We are considering how to deal with spectators at large-scale events such as GPS Swimming and Head of the River. They are still a few weeks away and we are working closely with the other schools involved.

We are also looking at our own assemblies and chapel services. At the moment they are still on. This is certainly something that I will consult about and we will respond carefully to advice from NSW Health.

How are we monitoring potential cases coming into the school?

If a student comes to school with a cold, we will send them home. If we suspect a student has coronavirus, based on their symptoms and history, we will isolate them and follow NSW Health guidelines.

If you are travelling to China, Iran or South Korea in the holidays please let the College know. You will have to quarantine for 14 days before your son returns to school.

Please also be aware that several other countries are being closely monitored in relation to coronavirus, including Japan, Italy and Mongolia. This list could grow – please check the Smart Traveller website for latest updates.

What to do if your child is sick

Please keep your child home from school if they are unwell. If they have a fever, runny nose, sore throat and/or cough they must stay home and follow medical advice.

If there is any history of travel to countries with confirmed cases of coronavirus, or contact with a known case, phone your GP for advice.

Boys should remember to regularly wash their hands and practice good respiratory hygiene.

When the flu vaccine becomes available, we encourage vaccination.

Would we close the College?

We will take advice from NSW Health and act on that advice. Of course, we would also close if the Government closed a large number of schools, as has happened in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Italy.

We don’t know how long the closure would be. That would depend on the advice of NSW Health.

What would happen if we closed the school?

We have provisions and technology in place that will allow us to keep operating.  We have plans to keep educating our students as much as possible, particularly those students in senior years.

Canvas provides us with a platform to deliver many online lessons. Teachers will create videos, screencasts, podcasts, deliver real-time lessons via our Zoom teleconference software and make phone contact. We will modify assessments so boys are not disadvantaged. Boys would work at home, using the lessons and timing of their school timetable as a guide. It would not be a free week or two of Netflix.

We are examining if it will be still be possible for teachers to safely go to work, even if 1400 students can’t. It is possible that all teaching will be done from home.

We have specific plans for Edmund Webb Boarding House, which will be communicated to boarders separately.

In short, we would plan to still run, but do things differently.

We think it is significantly more likely than not that the College will remain open. We are planning for the worst but expecting to operate Newington as usual.