Stanmore campus reopening 19 March
The Stanmore campus will open again tomorrow, Thursday 19 March. The Geography Department staff member who was in close contact with a person who tested positive to coronavirus remains in self-isolation. While health guidelines do not expect it, we have also contacted people they were in close contact with as a precautionary measure. (Note: close contact is face-to-face for more than 15 minutes or in a confined space for more than two hours.)
We took the opportunity during the shutdown to consult at length with senior experts at the Government’s Health and Safety Directorate. They provided the key insight that a person is only contagious for the 24 hours before they show symptoms of COVID-19. Before then they might be carrying the virus but they are not passing it on. Because our staff member is in isolation and is still not showing any symptoms 24 hours after their last contact with any students, the Directorate has confirmed this means students taught by this teacher are not at risk. He will remain in isolation for 14 days.
We have taken the decision to re-open the school tomorrow very seriously. The Health and Safety Directorate’s advice that we can, and should, re–open was very clear. These are the same people who managed the one–day shutdowns at other NSW schools (as well as being the same people who managed the SARS outbreak 10 years ago), so they have real experience in the matter.
They also reiterated our earlier advice: Children are much less affected by coronavirus. They are less likely to catch it, less likely to transmit it and their symptoms are less severe. None of the many close contacts of a confirmed case at another Sydney school actually contracted the coronavirus. They said the best place for students to be now – for their own sake and the sake of older members of the community – is at school.
There is much persuasive and expert advice about Coronavirus that is nonetheless in diametrically opposite directions. In this circumstance, we will – with some heaviness and a knowledge that the situation continues to change from day to day – continue to operate under the umbrella of the advice of the chief medical officers of every state of Australia. At the same time, we are not forcing any boy to be here against his parents’ wishes. If you strongly believe your son/s should not be at school, we will give you approved leave to have them with you instead. We will also not hesitate to respond if advice changes, our own situation changes (eg a student tests positive), or if we believe it is best in all the circumstances.
Finally,a thanks to our boys and our staff. This was a short notice change, but reports suggest that boys have been mature and cooperative in picking up their work from Canvas and getting on with it. This augurs well for any situation where the College might have to move to online learning on a more regular basis. Our staff have also been very flexible and adaptive when it comes to quickly taking on a whole new way of delivering lessons and running the school even when the boys are not here.