Uploaded by Warwick Langebrink

Letter to Parents 12 June 2020

12 June 2020
Dear Parents
We were inspected yesterday by an official from the Department of Education for KwaZuluNatal in terms of our Covid-19 compliance. The inspector was with us for approximately half
an hour and seemed more than satisfied with what he saw but had to report to a more senior
administrator in the Department for us to get official clearance to allow boys to come back to
school on a “phased-in basis”.
At the time of writing, we do not have this clearance yet, but other schools which have met
the criteria do have such clearance and have started to admit pupils other than Grade 12s back
to school. My feeling is that we cannot sit and “do nothing” any longer so I am “sticking my
neck out” as it were and offering an opportunity for the B and C Blocks to return to
Michaelhouse from Sunday 14 June or Monday 15 June (see timings below) should parents
wish to bring them back to school on the basis that this is entirely in line with the “phasingin” approach.
Our online learning will continue as previously and I fully recognize that it may be
inconvenient for you to have the boys return since we will be breaking for two weeks on
Friday 19 June and the plan would anyway be for the whole school, including the D and E
Blocks to reassemble on Monday 6 July.
Coming back to school will give the opportunity for some to meet up with friends again as
well as their teachers, but they will need to recognize that we are now wearing masks at
school, that social distancing is strictly applied, that the sport we have is based on individual
exercise and that there are many factors that make it a slightly different experience.
A more detailed description of the return follows. It is mostly taken from my letter of 26 May
to all parents:
 All school facilities will have been inspected and sanitised by a professional
company specialising in this area and deep cleaned where necessary to ensure, as
far as possible, a coronavirus-free environment when the boys return.
 Boarding facilities have been inspected to ensure that they are compliant with
physical distancing best practice.
 Sanitisers have been placed at key points in buildings, Houses, within classrooms,
 Clear guidelines of ‘Basics for Hygiene’ have been posted in boarding houses,
and in other appropriate areas in English and Zulu.
 The school will provide all boys with correct spec masks and all boys will have
Balgowan KwaZulu-Natal 3275 South Africa
Telephone +27 33 234 1000 Facsimile +27 33 234 4612 www.michaelhouse.org
four washable masks. Daily washing of masks will be facilitated.
The school has purchased thermometers for the checking of boys’ temperatures on
a daily basis by Housemasters.
All staff have been screened for ill-health and this procedure will continue on a
daily basis for the immediate future.
All staff have been “inducted” into appropriate Covid-19 protocols including the
standard social distancing and sanitising etiquette.
The San staff have the required PPE equipment and procedures are in place for
the arrival and triage of boys at the San so that the San is able to stay a Covid-19
free area.
A separate short-term stay area has been set up, away from the rest of the San, but
adjacent to it, where a boy suspected of having coronavirus would stay prior to his
departure from Michaelhouse for testing.
It has already been recommended that all boys have the flu vaccination.
This has nothing to do with coronavirus but remains a strong recommendation.
Where possible, we would ask parents to return boys in person. This will
ensure that any boys who are not well when they are screened are able to return
home immediately with their parents.
For travel purposes Caryl Ballance ([email protected]) will send
each returning boys and you as parents, a recognised travel permit to say that
you are returning him to school and that he is a student at Michaelhouse.
As mentioned above, for the good of all boys and staff, a swift exit
strategy for every boy must be in place should any significant and relevant
health concerns be identified. This is part of the updated health questionnaire
which will be sent by email very shortly by Allan Laing, the Deputy Rector:
Pupils for your completion and prompt return.
o This will require appropriate answers to the following questions:
 Who will collect your son if he needs to leave the school and how
quickly can this be arranged should we deem it necessary?
 For those living further away, is there a local place of residence
where he may self-quarantine?
 This exit strategy would be necessary should a boy present with symptoms of the
virus or if greater national/regional lockdown regulations are reinstated. As
already indicated, the well-being of all associated with Michaelhouse needs to be
borne in mind.
 It is vital that all boys returning must be in possession of the necessary permit to
travel, especially those crossing provincial boundaries. We will arrange for a
permit from the school, as indicated above, but that is the limit of our authority on
this matter. We understand that national borders remain closed.
 Boys will be able to return to school on Sunday 14 June between 11h00 and
15h00, or Monday 16 June at 08h00 either in school uniform or in civvies. We
Balgowan KwaZulu-Natal 3275 South Africa
Telephone +27 33 234 1000 Facsimile +27 33 234 4612 www.michaelhouse.org
suggest civvies might be easier in the circumstances.
On his return, there will be an initial welcoming procedure at the Michaelhouse
gate and you and your son will be directed to the Indoor Centre for his screening
by the San Sisters. There will be screening carried out at 11h00, 12h00, 13h00,
14h00 and 15h00, followed by a brief Covid-19 related induction for the boys
after such screening or on Monday 15 June at 08h00. (A fuller induction for the
boys will occur later in the day).
Please, therefore, do NOT go directly to your son’s boarding house. Lavatory
facilities will be available for parents in the Old Boys Club of the Heritage Centre
and the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ rooms will also be available in the Centenary
Centre. We wish to be welcoming, but to avoid creating a social gathering. Please
observe social distancing!
The temperatures of boys will be taken on arrival at Michaelhouse. Please do not
return your son if he is currently sick with flu or flu like symptoms. If any boy has
respiratory symptoms with a temperature over 38 degrees and pulse over 120, we
must insist that he leaves with his parents immediately for the well-being of
Boys/parents will have been required to have completed a questionnaire on their
son’s health (as under Pre-Departure for Michaelhouse). Further travel and
contact history may be required – any contact with an infected person needs to be
declared as well as whether any family members have been involved with the
delivery of an essential service or visiting any areas likely to be Covid-19
Hotspots in the last 6 months. Medical confidentiality will be strictly observed.
Once cleared, boys will have their brief Covid-19 related induction and then may
proceed to their boarding house.
 While we look forward to the return of the boys and know they will enjoy the
camaraderie of being with their friends again, for the safety of everyone, we have
to be strict in implementing “good practice” in their Houses and in the school as a
 Boys will, therefore, need to accept and follow all necessary steps, practices and
regulations which are instituted within the Michaelhouse environment during
these times. Failure to do so may result in a harder line than usual being taken for
infractions that put others’ health at risk. Any boy who consistently does not
adhere to the policy concerning physical distancing, hand sanitisation, the correct
wearing of a mask and any self-diagnosis measures required will have to be sent
home immediately.
 Boys will be issued with four face masks in their House colour for daily use when
at school.
 Each boy must be in possession of his own personal hand sanitiser bottle and use
it to sanitise appropriately. These will be issued to boys.
 All staff, boys and visiting parents are required to wear a cloth mask around the
school buildings. Parents may not enter the boarding houses.
 All staff and boys are expected to wash their hands regularly and to follow the
Balgowan KwaZulu-Natal 3275 South Africa
Telephone +27 33 234 1000 Facsimile +27 33 234 4612 www.michaelhouse.org
general hygiene guidelines that are on display throughout the school.
As far as possible, social distancing will be implemented and the responsibility is
on individuals to ensure they respect these regulations.
Boys will not be allowed into other boarding houses, only their own.
Any member of the community who observes, experiences or shows symptoms of
the virus must bring this immediately to the attention of the relevant Housemaster
and/or Sanatorium staff.
There will be no leaves granted in the immediate future. Boys returning to school
must expect to stay until the end of term in order to minimize the hazard of the
spread of the virus.
We will ensure the boys have access to physical activities and, during certain
times of the day, will make facilities available for individual exercise. (This may
be restricted to running and cycling depending on government regulations which
may change. No team sports are permitted at this stage.)
While the measures above may seem draconian in nature to some, they are necessary to
ensure that we create as safe an environment as possible and also one in which the boys
will be able to enjoy being back at school. Within time, there may be guidance about the
relaxation of some of the stipulations above, but it is important that you, as parents, feel
confident that we are doing everything possible to promote the well-being of the boys
returning to the school environment. We simply cannot have a casual approach to these
I wish to reiterate that we really do want to welcome the boys back to school in a phased
way and in line with good practice and I am sure that they will value enormously once
again being part of the Michaelhouse community.
With my best wishes
Balgowan KwaZulu-Natal 3275 South Africa
Telephone +27 33 234 1000 Facsimile +27 33 234 4612 www.michaelhouse.org