Covid-19 - Mr Potts

You’ll all have noticed that there’s been a change of venue and a change of format for today’s assembly and I’m sure you’ll all have worked out why. Before we start though, I want to throw in a couple more ‘C words’ that are even more important right now: Careful and Calm.

If you look around the room today, you’ll notice that – despite what you might have seen on TV and social media – all of your teachers are incredibly calm and that’s because we trust the advice we’ve been given and we trust all of you to follow that advice, be careful and keep each other safe.

I appreciate that this will be a worrying time for a lot of you, particularly those who find yourselves a long way from your families, but I want to reassure you all that we’re following the government’s advice and doing all we can to keep you all safe, happy and well.

Events like these tend to bring out the best and worst of human nature. You’ll all have seen the reports of people stockpiling essential items like toilet paper and canned food but you might have missed the many other people who are already organising themselves to provide help and support for the more vulnerable members of our society.

Almost a year ago to the day, the people of New Zealand faced a challenging situation of their own when a gunman murdered 51 people who were visiting their mosques for Friday prayers. It was a senseless and indiscriminate act of man-made evil but the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, did something really smart: she refused to utter the name of the gunman or allow him to gain any attention for his cowardly actions. That simple decision allowed us instead to shift our focus to the people whose actions really mattered: the first responders, the people who risked their own lives to save others and the mourners – from all sections of New Zealand society – who came to pay their respects.

We might face some challenges of our own in this country over the coming weeks. They’re not going to be as frightening or dramatic the ones faced by the people of New Zealand, but we can all be heroes too. Not by running into gunfire or taking unnecessary risks but simply by being mindful; looking out for one another; being careful and minimizing risk; supporting one another and being conscious of the language we use; and thinking more carefully about the way we treat each other.

Over the next few weeks being kind to one another is going to be so important.
Almost four years ago, in our own country, during the Brexit referendum, we again saw some of the more negative sides of human nature exposed. During that debate, one prominent politician came out with a soundbite that will probably go down in history as one of the silliest phrases ever uttered by a British politician:
“People in this country have had enough of experts.”

I don’t think I need to tell you what a ridiculous statement that was but I also need to warn you to beware of people who claim to be experts – particularly those sharing inaccurate, ill-informed and misleading videos, memes and posts on social media.

I’m definitely not an expert so – like my colleagues – I’m grateful for the advice of people who actually are and we’re all really blessed to be joined by our incredible School Nurse, Sheila Stanley, who’s here to give us some qualified information on the situation and some practical advice to help keep you all safe.

I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen over the coming days and weeks but I can promise you one thing: we will do whatever it takes to keep you all happy and safe. We’re going to face one or two challenges and, like you, it’s hard for us as staff to wave goodbye – temporarily – to the members of our boarding community who are preparing to re-join their families for a short while. But I told you something incredibly important the other week: we are all Fulneck. And it’s more important than ever that we hold onto that, stick together and support each other. If we can do that, I know we’ll see the very best of human nature within our school and within our communities.

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