The Covid-19 pandemic has had a substantial effect on the people and services at Camphill School Aberdeen.
There have been significant changes to how we're able to offer support, care and education in a safe and secure way.
Below you can read about our responses and here you can see a video broadcasted by STV News.
Knowing that there was a pandemic and preparation
As news began to spread across the world about Covid-19, initially there was disbelief that it would come to our front door and have the effects that it is having.
Soon cases began to develop in Scotland and the first steps towards preparedness began. The initial focus was on ensuring that we were fully prepared and that staff were kept informed of developments. Each residential house and service was given an emergency pack and guidance, and additional hygiene and infection controls were implemented.
Safety of residents
The pandemic began to take hold in Scotland and we began to make major changes to our provision in order to ensure the safety of our children and young people. The first step was the creation of safe isolation bubbles. Day pupils and students had separate programmes to residents and residential houses operated separately.
Many services were suspended but school and day services for residents continued where we could do this safely.
Physical distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) became part of daily life.
One of the most significant changes was that children and young people who would go home regularly were no longer able to do so. This has meant that many have had to get used to seeing friends and family in a new way - via video calling - and to experience what Camphill School Aberdeen is like on the weekends and during the holidays.
Safety of staff
Ensuring that staff had the PPE needed to fulfil their tasks safely, and the correct guidance, required a significant effort. There has been a lot of cross-organisational work with local authorities, health protection and other care provisions and Camphill communities. Lots of guidance has been written and PPE has been issued to staff.
During the first months of lockdown there were significant staffing issues due to many volunteers being called home by their sending organisations and staff needing to shield. Due to the shortages, many of the staff from services that were suspended began to support in the houses. As services have been restarted, staffing has been returning to pre Covid-19 levels.
The continued significant challenges and strain on staff is a real concern to us. We have issued health and wellbeing guidance and looked to ensure that there is extra support.
Communication the key
Throughout the whole process, good communication has been key. Early on, a daily bulletin was established that was shared with all staff and was a mix of factual information, guidance and updates on what was happening across Camphill School Aberdeen. As things have begun to settle, the bulletin remains a regular feature, but is no longer daily.
Communication aids for the children and young people have been developed in order to support them to understand what is going on.
Regular letters and photos have been sent out to families to keep them informed of current guidance and for them to be involved with what has been going on.
Commissioners, local authorities and regulatory bodies have also been kept informed of our developments as well as being given a regular insight into what activities we have been doing and how we have been engaging creatively with our children and young people.
Creativity and new activities during the pandemic
A tremendous effort has been put in, in order to establish new routines or a ‘new normal’ and to keep everyone safe and well.
Across the campuses there have been many creative projects that have inspired and helped to create beauty. In school and beyond there has been an increase in outside-based learning.
The restrictions remain very much in place for many and getting used to the ‘new normal’ is something that everyone is slowly coming to terms with.
The resilience and positivity of everyone in Camphill School Aberdeen remains remarkable and we are very much looking forward to some time soon being able to all get together for a big party!
One student shared “It’s sometimes difficult because obviously I’m missing home but it’s nice to have the community around you and I can talk about how I feel. You always get your space and you get treated for who you are and not your learning disability.”