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Peterhouse Girls

From the Rector's Desk - 22nd October 2020

Thursday 22 October 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,


During the course of the last week there has, in South Africa, been a lot of coverage of a Covid “superspreader” function in Cape Town, where over eighty matriculants, celebrating the end of formal schooling, have tested positive for Covid. These functions, common when pupils come to the end of an academic year, are increasingly seen as vehicles for the large scale spread of the Corona virus. It should be noted that in the case of these Cape Town pupils, this function took place prior to the start of their public examinations, consequently, they have placed themselves at serious risk of not writing their first examination papers.

While understanding that school leavers celebrate this “end of season” in life, 2020 is different, and our leavers need to be cautioned that gathering in large groups places them and their families at risk. The media has, in recent weeks, reported extensively on “superspreader” functions. As a school we continue to adopt a cautionary, and some might argue, conservative, approach to managing the Covid environment. Our rationale, alongside advice from the school doctors, has always been to ensure that we minimize the risk to our pupils. We certainly value and appreciate the support that we have received from parents this term.

As we move towards the end of the month, we are conscious that, in November, we have to manage two processes. Firstly, the public examinations come to an end. Given that the end of examinations are staggered, we understand that parents will need to come to collect their children at different times. Please note that once your child(ren) has completed their last examination, they are expected to return home. Please would you liaise with Housemasters and Housemistresses with regard to the logistics of collecting your child(ren) after their last examination? The Vth Form will also return home after the completion of their last AS examination. Vth Form will continue with digi-school lessons from Thursday 19 November through Wednesday 2 December. This short window of teaching time is critical in terms of laying the foundation for the A2 coursework. The 2021 prefect body will be required to remain at school during this time, on the back of the return of the B, C and D Blocks.

The second process involves the return of the B, C and D Blocks. In previous letters we have provided an outline for the outdoor education programme. The formal return to school for all three year groups is Monday 16 November. They will be returning to write their end of year examinations, which start on Tuesday 17 November. On returning to school (Monday 16 November) there will be a process which requires parents to return with a Financial Clearance Certificate and a signed Indemnity Document. Pupils returning will also be required to undergo a screening process, which will involve temperature checks. A Covid test may be applied should any returnee exhibit any Covid symptoms, or the temperature reading is above 37.5?C. A separate letter, outlining the finer details of the return, will be forwarded to you closer to the return date. For our out-of-country parents, we appreciate there may be some logistical constraints in terms of a return to Zimbabwe.
Please can you contact Mr de Kock at PHB or Ms Nyeke at PHG, should you have concerns about returning to Zimbabwe. Equally, we appreciate that there may be some returnees who might need transport from ports of entry; if your child(ren) requires assistance getting back to the school from a port of entry, please contact Mrs Helen Allott. For Springvale House, the return of pupils is different, and the return dates have been published in Mr Martin’s weekly Newsletter.

We have received notice from the Sports and Recreation Council of a resumption of school sports. While this will have minimal impact on the rest of this year, we are planning a return to a full sports programme in 2021. There are protocols which will be applied to the playing of competitive sport, and these will form part of our return to the competitive sports field.

The public examinations continue and the feedback from our candidates remains positive. The next two weeks is a demanding examination time, after which the first candidates will be heading home. Given the upheavals of 2020, and this year’s uncertainties, the examinations, and their completion, have provided us with some sense of normality. Equally, we look forward to the return of the rest of our classes, starting with the Springvale Grade 6’s next week.

With warm regards,

Jon Trafford