— 8 Jun 2020 15:07:33 by Nigel English
It’s been so strange seeing the Château grounds so empty and quiet during the long coronavirus lockdown and we can’t wait to welcome back old friends and new once it is safe to do so.
Our ethos has always been to give children the opportunity to challenge themselves and practise French in safe environment, and this hasn’t changed. That’s why we are planning new protective measures to reduce risk while maintaining a setting where children can still thrive, learn and have fun.
For the first time in many months, we can now start to imagine what life will be like at the Château when groups return.
One of the first things you may notice on arrival is changes to the physical layout of classrooms and common areas to allow children to be kept a safe distance apart. Wherever possible, we will make use of the Château’s 100 acres of green space, moving more activities, and even mealtimes, outside.
Expect to see tweaks and changes to the activities on offer. We are reviewing how we can deliver a fun programme in the safest way possible, and so we envisage adapting some activities or replacing old activities with new ones. But don’t worry, our creative team will make sure your students will still experience a fun-packed timetable.
Those activities may be carried out in smaller groups to help limit the risk of the virus spreading, and children may be expected to remain in the same group throughout their time at the Château; working, playing, sleeping and eating in the same group. Our animateurs are qualified to lead all the activities at the Château and so each group could have their own dedicated animateur throughout the week, to keep cross contact to a minimum.
We are also looking at how we can stagger activities and mealtimes to minimise contact across groups and to allow sufficient time to clean and sanitise equipment and common areas to reduce indirect transmission.
Work is already in place to increase the number of handwashing facilities and hand sanitisation stations so that children can wash their hands before and after every activity. You’ll also see posters around the centre encouraging children to practise good habits which will be reinforced by our animateurs at every occasion.
Behind the scenes we are increasing the frequency and depth of cleaning dorms, common areas and classrooms and we’re investing in more equipment so that students don’t have to share, and all equipment will be thoroughly cleaned after use.
It’s inevitable that we will not be able to accommodate as many children at the Château as before, with fewer children sharing dorms and bathrooms at least in the short term. So you might see a cap on the number of groups staying, and less availability while we gradually reopen.
Being located in France, but catering for UK school groups, we adhere to French COVID-19 protocols as well as the Department for Education’s safety guidance for schools. As lockdown eases across France, and English schools begin to accept some year groups, we can now start to progress the measures required to keep your group safe. But, as always, the wellbeing of our school groups, centre staff and animateurs is our utmost priority and so we will not reopen until the French authorities give us the green light and then, only once we feel confident we are ready to safely do so.
We promise to keep you updated with our progress and look forward to seeing you all again very soon.