March 26, 2020

Update on Coronavirus – 26/03/20 at 16:00

Dear Parents,

Your queries and other updates:

  1. Fees

We are currently looking at our outgoings and possible cost-savings (which is taking some time to identify where we are contracted to some of the services we are not receiving) and considering the government help which may be available. What is important to note at this time though is that we have to retain our teachers in order for them to deliver your children’s learning and support. As I say to all parents when they first visit, our teaching staff are our greatest asset (and our biggest expense) and it is their commitment to their students that makes all the difference to pupils happiness and progress over time. All I can say at this time is we aspire to be fair to you and to keep our business afloat through this very difficult period. There will be more information available on or before the end of term next Wednesday, when you will get the usual end of term communications from us.

  1. Working at home and questions about increasing interactivity of lessons

Thank you for those who have settled children into good routines and are managing at home with the different ways of working, and especially to those who have sent us messages of support for our endeavours. I know the enormity of the expectation on parents to help us. (The teachers get this as well as they too are supporting their children at home, plus 4 teachers each day are still on site managing our key workers’ children). We are continuously looking into new ways of delivery to enhance the provision online. We are factoring in a number of things to these investigations: how many of our children have access via laptops/desktop computers throughout the day (we are aware that some families are sharing facilities between children and also facilities are being used for parents’ working from home); how confusing it would be, to change the way we have set up to work when we are still embedding the first stage of our operations on SatchelOne; then competency levels and the frustrations of using unknown online platforms (I don’t know about you, but some of the online platforms I have been using this last week for external meetings have been dire…). We are looking into it. We do know that what we are learning now will put us in a brilliant position for developing our technologies later… Please bear with us.

  1. Communications

It is likely that these updates will continue daily until the end of term. I hope that they are helpful to you. I remind parents that contact via phone to school is now not possible but call backs/messages from appropriate staff can be arranged if you message in to info@hollygirt.co.uk. You may email directly specific people as well, like myself, the bursar, as well as all teaching staff.

  1. Easter Holidays

 Our term finishes at the end of the day next Wednesday 1st April. The school will not be open for the holiday period. This enables all staff and pupils to retain normal working patterns and to re-energise ready for the new start on Tuesday 21st April. End of term information will be emailed home to parents, including the termly Holly Leaves.

  1. Creative Tips

Mrs Fry is posting some good creative hints and tips on the Hollygirt Art Department page on Facebook.

 

The rest of my update today will focus on the importance on us all, especially the children, of keeping emotionally well. It is clear that we are all in unchartered territory and the restrictions we are living with are not of our choosing hence it can take a while to adjust to a new normality and we will have to be proactive in making some of the necessary changes for us and our families. This is all generic information and is all clipped form various websites:

  • Stay in touch– keep in contact with your family and friends, you can still connect from a  distance – call your friend, have a video-call catch up with your family or check in with someone on social media.
  • Continue the things you enjoy–  try reading that book you’ve been meaning to start, watch that new series or try a new skill.
  • Get into a daily routine– you might find it helpful to plan out your time in advance and know what you are doing each day, so you have something to look forward to. 
  • Look after your personal environment– create a space that you are able to enjoy and feel comfortable in.
  • Take a break from social media if you need to– if the updates are getting too much it is okay to take a step back.

 

Here are some steps you can take if you are feeling anxious:

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

While it is normal to feel worried, if children are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important they acknowledge their feelings and speak to someone trustworthy, whether that’s a friend, a family member, a teacher or a helpline.

Arm yourself with the facts

There is a lot of information about the virus out there and false reports can fuel anxiety. Stay on top of what’s happening by using the government website; it is the most up-to-date and reliable source of information. The NHS coronavirus page can also be useful if you are worried about symptoms or family members.

You might see stories or posts on social media that make you or your children feel anxious. It can be very hard to know whether or not social media posts are true, so try not to rely on updates from there.

Know what you can do

If you or your children are feeling scared or panicked by coronavirus, remind yourself that there are practical things you can do.

There is lots of advice about this on the NHS website.

You might feel anxious about this advice because it might trigger compulsive thoughts and unhelpful behaviours to do with washing and hygiene. If this happens to you, please talk to someone you trust about it. You could ask them to help you, and let people around you know what you find helpful and what you don’t. 

It can also help to have a few gentle and regular reminders up your sleeve if you start to feel anxious about washing or hygiene. Remember this advice is about caring for yourself and others, but there is a limit to what you can do – so whatever happens, try to be kind to yourself.

Don’t overexpose yourself to the news

Staying informed can make you feel in control but the constant news reports could also become overwhelming. Try to get your information from reputable websites (like those we’ve mentioned above).

If you do want to read or watch the news, try to limit the amount of time you spend and stick to regular intervals in the days. If you are finding it hard not to think about the news, try to plan some activities that you enjoy and which will take your mind off things, whether that’s texting or facetiming a friend, watching a film, reading a book or going for a walk. You can find the latest government guidance on leaving your home here.

Do take a break from social media if you feel like the updates are getting too much. Remember you are in control of what you see on your feed. Take breaks when you do feel like things are getting too much or mute and unfollow accounts that make you feel more worried. 

Plan your time

We understand that learning from home can be quite a daunting prospect, but try to think of this as a chance to live in a different way for a while. Think about what you might want to do during this time, how you will stay connected and how you would prioritise your wellbeing. Planning might help reduce any anxiety or troubling thoughts. With so much uncertainty in the news, creating a routine you stick to can really help maintain a sense of structure and normality. Try to find time in your routine for activities that help you feel calm.

Find things that help you feel calm

Like at any other time, it’s important that you are not only looking after your physical health, but your mental health too. Think about some activities that can help when you are feeling overwhelmed, like breathing techniques, writing down how you feel, playing music or talking to a friend. For some ideas, have a look at how you can make a self-soothe box, or these coping techniques.

Dealing with self-isolation

The Government has now instructed everybody to ‘self-isolate’ where possible. Self-isolation means staying away from other people to prevent the potential spread of illness. The Government have guidelines on their website on how to do this. Wherever you are when self-isolating, think about who you can keep in contact with and how you can use apps such as WhatsApp and Zoom to talk to someone face to face. It’s important that you talk to people you trust during this time and continue to stay connected. They might be in the same situation and can help you navigate anything you are going through.

Maintain your routine as much as possible by getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time. Eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help also, as well as taking breaks throughout the day to talk to someone or do something that you enjoy. If it’s possible, try activities in your home that get you moving, like yoga or dancing.

It’s important during this time that you keep checking in with and acknowledging how you are feeling. We know that things might continue to feel overwhelming or scary. It’s good for you to talk about this where possible – know that you can say “I feel anxious about…” whenever you need to, and as regularly as you need to. 

You may find that you need extra support, so think about who you can turn to. It could be someone you know, or a helpline that you can talk to about how you might be feeling.

Mindfulness

There are lots of great free apps you can use to guide you through breathing techniques and meditation that can help ease your anxiety and clear your mind of anxious thoughts. We like to use Headspace.

Walk away from tense situations if you can

Being cooped up with other people will naturally be frustrating and might create tension between you and those you live with. You can defuse difficult situations by walking away from arguments until everyone starts to feel calmer. 

There are loads of resources currently online which may help  parents and their children from all the organisations who specialise in mental health issues for example:

Mind

The Mental Health Foundation

Young Minds

 

We are here to help.

Keep smiling 😊

 

Mrs Pam Hutley
Headmistress