BJAB is closed starting Monday 16th March 2020
Headteacher’s Newsletter Regarding School Closure
Friday 13th March 2020 at 14.30
This is quite an extraordinary edition of my newsletter. Announcing that BJAB is closed from the end of school on Friday 13th March until the new term begins on Monday 20th April feels very strange. My first thoughts are that I hope everyone in our community, the pupils, staff and parents remain safe and healthy. I am indebted to the wonderful staff at BJAB for their care and professionalism during these uncertain times. The children had an opportunity at a special assembly this morning to talk about today’s news and about the weeks ahead. I am confident that they will adapt quickly and purposefully to the new situation.
Turning to practical matters. The school campus will close and all staff, including the administrative team, will be working from home. All usual lines of communication via the website and email are open. Although some Belgian schools have been asked to provide a limited creche service, mostly to support parents working in the emergency services, BJAB will be completely closed. There will be no Stage during the Easter holidays. Pupils will not be marked as ‘absent’ in the school’s attendance register, so this period will not be reflected in the absence totals shown on reports. This term’s reports will be sent electronically at the end of term.
Although the physical campus is closed, learning at BJAB continues. I am pleased to say that our preparations have included extensive trialing of our online learning platform – Seesaw for Years 1-7 and Early Essence for Early Years. All children will leave school today with an exercise book for their distance learning journey containing the QR code for their log in. Full details of how the platform works and what is expected from pupils will follow in a separate letter. This innovation offers opportunities for our pupils to demonstrate their skills of independent learning and I am looking forward to showcasing examples of the work which will be produced.
During this period I am sure friendship groups will continue to ‘meet’ over a variety of social media platforms. Please monitor your child’s use to ensure that the BJAB values of kindness and respect are being upheld.
I will continue to write with news and updates as appropriate and be available online for any questions or comments. I would like to once more express my thanks for all the messages of support I have received during these uncertain times. It is a reflection of the school’s robust professionalism and the trust we share between us that we have remained safe, well and in good spirits.
With kind regards,
Sarah White MEd
Information on Distance Learning
In view of the school’s closure we are now implementing our Distance Learning procedure effective Monday 16th March.
Distance Learning for Years 1-7
Key points for Distance Learners in Years 1 through 7
- Teachers are preparing lessons for pupils to complete online. Please consult the ‘Interim Homework Guidelines’ which can be found as an appendix to the Distance Learning Policy. The links on these guidelines can also be used to supplement the work allocated.
- From Monday morning, teachers will upload lessons onto https://app.seesaw.me/#/login. Pupils should log in with the QR code for their class. Pupils have received a printed copy of this but you can also access it on the Parents Billboard (link above).
- Whilst there is an application available for devices, I encourage you to use the link in a web explorer (Safari, Chrome, Firefox etc.) as there is more functionality. This route will also work on mobile/tablet devices.
- Teachers will set tasks under the ‘activities’ section – there will be three key tasks set each day. We encourage you and your child(ren) to engage with this learning, as the aim is to continue the curriculum as much as possible. Supplementary and more fun tasks will be set in addition. For more information of how to get the most out of Seesaw, please consult: https://help.seesaw.me/hc/en-us/articles/205565209-Getting-Started-Guides
- If you have any issues with using the Seesaw platform please contact the school office. Please refrain from messaging teachers directly on the Seesaw platform. Any communication to teachers can go through the school office, as usual.
Distance Learning for PKG, Kindergarten, and Reception
Key points for Distance Learners in PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, and Reception
- Teachers will spend the first working day preparing lessons for pupils to complete online. Please consult the ‘Interim Homework Guidelines’ on the link above. The links can also be used to supplement the Distance Learning work allocated.
- From the second day, teachers in the Early Years will be emailing the day’s learning every morning. The learning videos and tasks will be activities which can be done easily with your child.
- There will be three key tasks set for Reception, two tasks set for Kindergarten and one task set for Pre-Kindergarten children each day.
- We will use the Early Essence Online Learning Journey platform for you to upload evidence of your children’s learning. Please upload photographs and videos of the task or activity to your child’s individual Learning Journey. Teachers will respond daily to all photographs and videos with comments and feedback. Instructions for uploading photographs and videos to the Learning Journey can be found here.
- If you have any issues with using the Early Essence platform, do not hesitate to email the office for assistance.
Previous communication from the Headteacher
Important Notice to All Parents, Friday 13th March 2020
Last night, the Belgian government announced the closure of all schools from the end of today, Friday 13th March. My newsletter later today will provide more information but I wanted to ensure that everyone is aware. Today’s Garderie and activities will operate as normal. If your child is absent today please arrange to collect any personal belongings or books before the closure of the school.
Letter to All Parents, Wednesday 11th March 2020
As I mentioned in previous updates, I am in contact with Heads of other schools in Brussels to monitor their responses to the virus outbreak. Some schools have closed: one because a parent tested positive, but the others as a precautionary measure. At this point, and after having canvassed opinion from a range of the BJAB community, we remain open until the situation changes.
The measures to keep to the school safe and hygienic are in place and must be strictly adhered to. Please use the sanitiser if you enter the school at the start of the day or at pickup, including garderie.
We now have a dedicated space for updates on our website.
I am grateful for the many messages of support and helpful suggestions I have received. It is this high level of personal responsibility within the whole school community which is probably our best defense.
Sarah White MEd
BJAB Reminders, Monday 9th March 2020
I am sure that in all families, mine included, the conversation is never too far away from the subject of Coronavirus. It is an ongoing priority for the school to remain vigilant, hygienic and responsive to any risk, but I emphasise that the school is open and children are learning to the usual BJAB standards.
All previous advice and notifications remain in place, with the addition that if you have travelled to the wider areas of northern Italy announced over the weekend, you should self-isolate for 14 days and seek medical advice if symptoms occur.
As the virus spreads it is also a possibility that infection could come from within Belgium, so it is very important that if you or your children develop any symptoms, you should not attend school and seek medical advice.
As always, if you have any information, concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Excerpt from BJAB Newsletter, Friday 6th March 2020
I am pleased to note that you are finding my regular updates reassuring and I plan to continue writing frequently as the situation unfolds.
There will be no PE (including swimming) or trips off-site until Easter. There is one small exception for the Netball and Soccer after-school clubs which use the nearby small ING park. If you do not want your child to attend, please do let the school office know.
I am also asking the parents of pupils in Years 6 and 7 to be aware that we are continuing to use the ING park for break-times. If you do not want your child to do so, we are very happy to accommodate them in school so please let us know. Outside providers have given written confirmation that they have not visited any of the restricted areas or that they have been in close contact with anyone infected with the virus.
As you might imagine, I continue to insist on good hygiene throughout the school day. It is the advantage of a small school that I am able to be highly observant and thorough whilst at the same time, discreet and caring.
Letter to All Parents, Wednesday 4th March 2020
I am grateful for the many messages of support I have received over the last few days for my efforts to arrive at a proportionate response to the risk we all face. I am in close contact with headteachers of other Belgian and international schools and am therefore abreast of their communication and actions in response to the virus.
After some thought, I have made the decision to cancel all outside trips (including swimming and PE) until the Easter holiday. The list includes the Years 6 and 7 Climate March, the Year 2 visit to the museum of Natural Science, the Year 3 visit to the police station, the Swimmarathon, the Interschool chess tournament, the Year 3 visit to the museum of the City of Brussels, the Year 6 visit to the fire station and all trips to the forest. I informed the children of this decision in assembly this morning and said that we will endeavour to organise the trips in the future.
A small number of parents have informed me of their decision to keep their children away from school, even though they are not affected by the restrictions necessitated by recent travel. While I respect, and authorise, this decision, I must point out that our reporting system will show their absence on the end of term report. Furthermore, the school cannot provide a bespoke programme of work for individual pupils who are not in attendance.
However, we have devised a list of useful websites which I attach with this message. We will add to, and update, this list periodically. Should the situation change and the advice from the Belgian government is to close the school, I wish to reassure you that a contingency plan for the continuation of learning using an on-line platform has been developed by Mr Moran. As part of our preparations, teachers will receive training on this system tomorrow.
I wish to stress that no school closure is imminent and we all hope none of this will be necessary. I will continue to communicate with you over the coming days with information about how we are responding to this uncertain and evolving situation. Please be assured of my total commitment to maintaining the safety of everyone at BJAB.
Sarah White MEd
Monday Reminders - Monday 3rd March 2020
Thank you for your over-whelming support concerning my response to the Covid-19 virus.
To offer further reassurance;
- This morning, my colleagues and I asked all pupils where they had been on holiday, in a friendly and caring manner. In some cases, we asked for an email confirmation from parents
- All pupils were taught the recommended way to wash their hands and teaching staff are ensuring it is done on arrival to school, after playtimes and before lunch
- Tables are being wiped with appropriate products throughout the day
- Hugging and hand-holding is being, very kindly, discouraged although this is difficult with the younger children
Furthermore, I have decided that PE lessons will take place in school this week. This decision will be reviewed next week. All this is being done in a calm manner, questions are being answered and any anxieties are being allayed. May I ask for your continued support by reassuring your children that a commonsense approach to hygiene is paramount? If the situation alters and I receive further advice, I will communicate with you as soon as possible.
Sarah White MEd
Letter to All Parents - Thursday 27th February 2020
Communication regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 virus
In advance of the resumption of school on Monday 2nd March, I am writing with important information. Please note that the advice we receive may change over time, so further updates may be necessary.
As with other schools and intuitions I am implementing the following measure which takes a precautionary stance. (This also applies to staff and visitors.)
If you, or people you have been in close contact with recently, have visited the areas notified as having sustained community transmission of the virus*, please remain away from school for 14 days and until all family members are asymptomatic.
*As of today, these areas are China, Hong Kong, Macau and the lockdown area in Italy: Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione d’Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova del passerine, Vò. The following website will be monitored for any further inclusions of ‘red areas’ (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/areas-presumed-ongoing-community-transmission-2019-ncov).
In the event of additions, similar measures apply. Other than this straightforward advice I anticipate school will operate normally. We will however take this opportunity to talk with the children in an age-appropriate way about anything they may be hearing in the media about the outbreak. It is important that only accurate information is passed on and we will be vigilant for any signs of worry or anxiety. Last week I did mention the importance of basic hygiene such as frequent hand-washing and covering of the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. I will also, temporarily and in the politest and kindest way possible, refrain from shaking hands with everyone in the morning. As usual, if you or your child experiences any flu-like symptoms, please seek medical advice before coming to school. I hope you agree with this approach. If you do have any questions or comments please let me know.
Sarah White MEd