For obvious reasons, the end of term was demanding. We stopped a week early, and it took the last of our pupils five days to reach home.  Mercifully, we so far have no member of the college community yet affected by this terrible virus. But no one has any illusion about the difficulties ahead. It is unlikely but not impossible that boys will be returning straight after Easter but either way their learning will continue from 20 April and dons are preparing for this. The transition to remote learning has been smooth, particularly considering the speed at which it was implemented. The IT team and dons involved have worked hard to put the school on the strongest footing possible going into the next term.

The Coronavirus is causing anxiety not only to parents but also to all employees and their families.  The Governing Body has considered how it might give the maximum support and reassurance to a staff which it greatly values. It is the school’s intention to continue to pay all its employees until 31 August of this year in order to relieve them of any financial concern. We have additionally set up a Hardship Fund for parents who are experiencing financial difficulties. Winchester is conscious – indeed proud of – the diverse backgrounds and financial circumstances of the parent population, and we are humbled that this is recognised amongst the parent community as a strength worth supporting.

You will receive the Keeping Connected emails at least every month with information and news items which we hope you will find interesting. We have included a link to the digital version of the 2019 Wykeham Journal in this week’s Keeping Connected, and we hope to post you a hard copy as soon as possible. 

Newly this year, there is a newsletter to all employees, with the slightly arcane title Winchester Waffle, a tribute to Wavell, which each week has a different member of staff as guest editor. As it has been well received, we will be looking to make this publication available to a wider audience during these times of lockdown. I hope you will enjoy the insight it will give in to life at the school from a different perspective. 

I have ended each term as a headmaster with a letter to parents, and this continues unabated at Winchester. The only break in this was for a sabbatical term in 2004, when it was done for me. There is a link to the 64th of these letters here; and, if want to get a glimpse of just how difficult it is to be a pupil or a don at the moment, try understanding the arrangements in section 2, or, even more complicated, the supplementary information for those in V Bk. 

What publications are to come? You will, of course, receive the May edition of the Trusty Servant, possibly electronically, and the Keeping Connected emails with links to news and views. You may also like to follow the school on Twitter and Instagram (if you don’t already), which have posts most days with images, articles by the dons, musical performances, poetry readings and much more.

In today's global eco-system of disease, there are very few refuges. On the other hand, the internet is a powerful glue. The community spirit of Winchester lives on in terms of chats, conferences and emails, and as we find ourselves constricted to our homes, I hope we can all the more enjoy communications by these virtual means. I am convinced this community spirit will remain undaunted as we pick our way through the challenges which lie ahead.

Please accept my very best wishes for your own health and security at this most difficult of times and please do keep in touch.

Dr Timothy Hands

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