The coming week is going to see temperatures soar to levels we have never seen in the UK and from which media sources you use, you are either excited for the chance of having weather that we usually travel abroad for or are anxious about how the temperature will effect you personally.
As schools, we have received a lot of information over the weekend from the Government (DfE and Central Government), the Royal Borough of Greenwich as well as from teaching unions - all asking schools to provide very different responses - which contradict one another greatly.
We have checked that Royal Borough of Greenwich school transport will be unaffected, but we have been alerted that TFL and train services are subject to either cancellation or modification (i.e. slower running due to the heat and its effects on the tracks) which may mean journeys will take longer than usual.
From discussion with the Heads of School, the Governing Board and taking advice from trusted sources (as we did during the height of the COVID response) our plans are as follows :
- both schools will be open up until (and including) Thursday as originally planned
- school uniform across both schools is relaxed for the entire week - shorts, t shirts are expected and encouraged etc and this includes staff (if they wish)
- sunscreen to be applied before school (we recommend in line with all cancer charities that it should be Factor 50) and please (if you wish) a labelled tube of sunscreen for your child to reapply during the day. We are not allowed to put on sunscreen on but will help guide them.
- pupils are encouraged to wear a hat
- we will be creating as much ventilation as possible
- we will be offering unlimited access to water
- we will be offering ice lollies etc during the day
- play/break times will be modified so that we try to avoid (as much as possible) the heat, and offering options to play inside, in shade etc.
- we will be checking on each other for signs of difficulties due to heat
You are of course as the parent, completely within your right to chose not to send into school during the two predicted hottest days and keep them at home. If you choose to do this, we will automatically apply work to Google Classroom for them to undertake whilst at home and we will have to (as part of our duty of care and under safeguarding) check in on your via phone or video call.
Throughout the day we need to keep an eye on each other for signs of dehydration:
- if your urine is orange or dark in colour, you need to drink more water - we will need to remind children to check the colour of their urine throughout the day
Signs of Heat Exhaustion include :
- a headache
- dizziness and confusion
- loss of appetite and feeling sick
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- fast breathing or pulse
- being very thirsty
- high body temperature – a temperature of or above 40°C (104°F) is a major sign of heatstroke (if it doesn't go down when placed in the shade and after drinking water)
- red, hot skin and sweating that then suddenly stops
- fast heartbeat
- fast shallow breathing
- confusion/lack of co-ordination
- loss of consciousness
Those of us who are also experiencing menopausal symptoms will need to ensure that you monitor your responses carefully - as some of the signs above can be confused with menopause.
All physical activity (PE etc) has to be reduced - no racing etc. so that we reduce the potential for heat exhaustion.
Our risk assessment has been based on the Government's direction as well as by us giving you as parents, autonomy to keep your child at home during the next two days. We will monitor the situation constantly and if proved necessary, we will close the schools if we are unable to maintain the safety of ourselves and the children.