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Peterhouse Boys

From the Rector's Desk - 3rd July 2020

Friday 3 July 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,



For a second time this year, the end of term has come about quite abruptly. While I have no doubt that there will be celebrations in many households across Southern Africa with the start of an ‘early’ holiday, there is also the reality that the second half of the academic year will be long and demanding. While I appreciate that the dates below have been circulated previously, given their importance, I am repeating them.

For Zimbabwean schools, a phased return of pupils is planned. Our public examination classes (A Level, AS Level, and IGCSE) will return to school on Monday 27 July in preparation for the start of the ‘mock examinations’ on 28 July. For the rest of the school, online learning will resume on July 28. The information that we have to hand provides for the return of pupils to Peterhouse as follows:

27 July
Examination Classes (A, AS, and IGCSE candidates) Springvale House; Grade 7

17 August
Form 3 (B Block)
Springvale House; Grade 6

7 September
Form 1 & 2 (C & D Block)
Springvale House; Grades 3/4/5

28 September
Springvale House; Grades 1/2
Nursery School

For our out-of-country families, we are acutely conscious of the anxieties linked with the return of pupils to schools in Zimbabwe. We are currently working with a number of options, given that quarantine regulations and border closures continue to be enforced. Firstly, we have made application to the Ministry of Health for the establishment of a quarantine facility at Peterhouse for returning pupils. This application has been directed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health. Secondly, for our public examination classes, we are actively pursuing options for examination venues to be established in places where we have the greatest concentration of pupils. At the time of writing, I can confirm that in Mozambique, Njerenji Primary School in Chimoio, and Zambezi Primary School in Tete, have kindly offered to host our examinations. We are working on venues in Lusaka, Gaborone and Gauteng. Once we have confirmed venues we will communicate them to you; please appreciate that all these venues will have their own rules with respect to being Covid compliant. More information around the ‘mock examinations’, such as timetables, will be circulated by the Directors of Studies.

In terms of our return to school on Monday 27 July, please note that to ensure Covid compliance, the routines for the start of term will be very different to what has occurred in the past. I do ask, as far as is physically possible, for your support of these arrangements, since they are designed to protect the whole Peterhouse community. All returning pupils will be subject, on arrival, to a Covid test; to facilitate this process, please note the timings below. We appreciate these may not be entirely convenient to all parents; these times are based on the needs of the ‘testing team’. All of this will be done at Peterhouse Boys and managed in such a way that parents and pupils will remain with their cars for all stages of the process. Parents may then proceed to Peterhouse Girls and Springvale House.

Testing for all three schools will take place on the boys’ school campus. The following return times for Monday 27 July will apply:

PHB and PHG A Block 08h30 – 10h30
PHB and PHG Vth Form 11h00 – 13h00
PHB and PHG VIth Form SVH Grade 7 13h30 – 15h30

Please note that no further tests will be conducted after 15h30, and the school campuses will be closed to pupils arriving after that time.

In addition to the Covid tests, parents will also need to receive a fee clearance certificate and complete a new Peterhouse Indemnity document. All of this will be arranged to facilitate a quick and efficient drop-off for pupils at the school; this will all take place on the Peterhouse Boys school campus. Pupils and parents will remain in their cars for each stage of the process (Covid test – Fee Clearance – Indemnity Documentation). Peterhouse Boys parents will then go to designated drop-off points, while the Peterhouse Girls and Springvale parents will proceed to their respective schools.

Currently we have no information with regard to term dates for the second half of the academic year. Provisionally, the Peterhouse Group will re-open as per the phased programme proposed by the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, to ensure continuity with our normal term operations and the suggestion (not confirmed) that the academic year might end on 16 December, we are basing our calendar on the following fixture free weekends.

13h00 Friday 7 August to 17h00 Monday 17 August

Half Term

09h45 Friday 18 September to 17h00 Monday 28 September.

Cambridge Examinations start on 1 October


09h55 Wednesday 4 November to 18h00 Tuesday 10 November

End of Term
Provisionally, Wednesday 9 December

Given the fluidity of the current Covid environment please note that these dates may be subject to change.
Currently, the start of the Lent Term in 2021 is Tuesday 12 January 2021.

We have, in recent weeks, invested heavily in ensuring that the school meets its responsibilities with respect to being Covid compliant. In order for us to successfully navigate this new space, we will all need to take responsibility for protecting each other. Please note the following:
• If your child is showing any signs of Covid symptoms, please do not send him/her back to school. Please notify the school of this.
• If any member of your family has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid, please do not return to school.
• Please ensure that you children return to school with three washable face masks. The school will have a stock of masks but, obviously, not enough for 3 per pupil. Please ensure the mask is clearly marked with your child’s name.
• While the school will have sanitizer stations throughout our campuses it is advisable for every pupil to have their own bottle of sanitizer.
• We will demand adherence to physical distancing for all those on campus and this will add a new dimension to the manner in which we interact. We will be staggering meal times, policing physical distancing, and altering some of the routines in the boarding houses.
• In preparation for a return to school, we have successfully completed a Ministry of Health inspection.
• There will be, between exeat weekends, reduced pupil movement on/off the campuses. In the early part of the term, there will be no provision for “floating weekends” for Peterhouse Boys and Girls. Pupils will only be allowed to return home in the event of an emergency, or at the discretion of the schools medical team. Obviously, the school will adjust and adapt this ruling with changes to the Covid environment in Zimbabwe.
• The schools will be reinforcing all those behaviours which are consistent with best-practice in schools.

As we reflect on this past term, I am certain that, when written into history, it will be recognized for the incredible adaptability and resilience of the staff. Across every sphere of the school’s life there have been some remarkable achievements. The staff have adapted, developed, and mastered a whole new way of teaching – all in ten weeks. To our pupils, you have played a key role in making our teaching platforms successful. You have worked in unusual and challenging times; your tenacity is to be applauded. Next term will, again, be different. The school you return to will be, in looks, the same, but, in approaching our new set of circumstances, routines and behaviours will be different.

During the course of this week we have received some great news from the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Despite the limitations placed on them by the Covid pandemic and lockdown, four Peterhouse pupils were able to complete both Bronze and Silver Awards. Silver Awards were made to Deborah Davy and Seamus Ratcliffe, and Bronze Awards go to Hannah Martin and Harry Orphanides. Thanks go to Outward Bound Zimbabwe for the provision of some excellent online tutorials, and for managing the Adventurous Journeys programme.

The Vth Form Biology/Geography trip has been postponed and will now take place from Saturday 29 August; interested pupils should contact Penny Raynor. 

As the holiday unfolds, the school will continue to update you with details regarding our return on July 27 as well as important information around the writing of examinations.

I would like to wish all our families a restful, safe, and healthy mid-year break. We have been on a remarkable journey this term. My sincere thanks go to the whole community for your understanding, patience, and resilience in facilitating what has been a successful, albeit unusual, term. We look forward to the return of pupils in late July and the start of a gradual return to “normality”.

With best wishes and regards,

Jon Trafford