Return to on-site schooling
Everyone will have heard the positive news announced on Monday about the gradual end to lockdown starting with a return to on-site schooling from the week beginning 8th March. Having spoken to a number of students and teachers about this, I know what welcome news this is for everyone. We are all looking forward to working together in school once again.
Of course we have to remember that the pandemic is still a very real risk to our society and that we all must continue to play our part in reducing the spread of the disease for the foreseeable future. I know that I can count on everyone in our community to continue to put others first and to work together for the common good.
We will begin to return to school during the week beginning 8th March.
Before any lessons can start the government has stipulated that all of our students and staff will have an asymptomtic Covid test, and a further two such tests during the weeks of 8th March and 15th March.
With over 1200 students here, this is a very big task to achieve and so every student will receive an appointment time for their initial Covid test which will take place in school on either Monday 8th, Tuesday 9th or Wednesday 10th. Each student will be required in school for up to an hour and will go home immediately after their test is complete. The type of test is a Lateral Flow test.
Students will receive their attendance mark when they come in and are required to wear school uniform (including face masks) on these days. No one with Covid symptoms should come to school, they should take the test at a local NHS test centre.
Due to the logistics of organising the tests, there will be no ‘live’ MS Teams lessons during these days. However work for each lesson (Session A and B) will be set for everyone on Show My Homework.
Provided that the whole school has been tested by the end of Wednesday, everyone will return to lessons on Thursday 11th March. The second and third in-school Covid tests will be conducted between Thursday 11th March and Friday 19th March.
We will then issue each student with home test kits which are to be used for self-testing at home for the foreseeable future.
How will the test be conducted?
We have set up a testing centre in the sports hall with 12 bays and have a smaller facility in the Sixth Form common room. The test is self-administered by each student by swabbing the back of their throat and nose. A member of staff will be on hand to talk them through the test which takes about 3 minutes to complete. A different member of staff will undertake the processing of the test which takes up to 30 minutes. If the test is void, the student will be asked to repeat the test. Students are to go home as soon as the test is done and the result will be texted to their parents.
What is the purpose of these asymptomatic Covid tests?
The purpose is detect asymptomatic cases of Covid and isolate anyone carrying the virus. The government writes: “Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms, so a test that rapidly detects these otherwise hidden cases is a very useful additional tool for tackling the virus.” Ultimately these measures are to stop the transmission of this terrible virus which has caused so much misery for society across the world. We are asked to pray for an end to the pandemic, we are also expected to do everything we can to prevent the spread of Covid and the new variants.
Undoubtedly this is inconvenient to all of us, but it is a necessary step and we have received expensive testing kits free of charge. Should we detect cases of Covid in the initial testing, those students will have to self-isolate.
Action for Parents:- Parental permission form
With this letter is a link to the standard parental permission needed for students to undertake the Covid test. Any student over the age of 16 can complete this for themselves, however they should tell their parents.
Please may I ask every family to complete the parental permission by 12 noon on Friday of this week, Friday 25th February 2021. This will enable us to input all the information on our systems next week in order to issue the 1200 appointments for students by Thursday 4th March. The appointment times will be emailed to parents. I am sorry that due to the regulations issued about the tests we cannot arrange family appointments. Please complete this form.
If your child has Special Educational needs or a disability and you would like them to receive additional support to take the test in the smaller Sixth Form area, please contact Mrs Webster at school this week.
Should there be a medical reason why your child cannot take this test, please contact their Head of Year to let us know. It should be pointed out that whilst no one is compelled to take this Covid test, we hope that everyone will. We are putting a great deal of work into setting this up as we are trying to protect everyone’s family and to have continuity of education in school. Thank you for your understanding.
From Thursday 11th March lessons will resume and parents will have the legal obligation to ensure that their child attends school daily and on time.
The school will operate under the same Risk Assessment arrangements as the Autumn term.
This includes, as before, since September 2020:
Staggered start and end times for the school day, line-up in the Quad and Top Court
Timetable with 2 lessons per day to avoid movement around the school
Year group “bubbles”
Proscribed seating plans for each classroom
Staggered lunch and break times
Every student must carry hand gel at all times and use at the start of each session
Every pair of students will wipe down their desk or work station at the end of session A
Good ventilation – classroom windows and doors open
The government has introduced a new rule that students must wear face masks at all times when indoors. This means both when walking around the building and also in lessons. During break and lunch outdoors, masks do not need to be worn.
The school’s Catering service will also resume on Thursday 11th March. Parents can put money on catering cards via the ParentPay system. Should you require a new card these will be issued next week (Given the disruptive year we have had these will be issued FREE OF CHARGE until 11th March and thereafter charged at £1.00 per replacement card.)
Track and Trace
As before should your child have Covid symptoms you must not send them to school. You must book an NHS centre covid test. You must let us know should they be positive.
What happens if someone in my child’s class tests positive after 11th March?
We will contact all those who have been in class with that student and require them to self-isolate. Work will be set on Show My Homework. Please note that we will not be able to provide live lessons on MS Teams.
I hope that this covers the main points. Should you have any queries please contact your child’s Head of Year in the first instance.
Please may I urge you to complete the permission form as above, today, so that our admin team can continue to get everything ready.
Finally may I say how much all of the teachers are looking forward to seeing our students and getting back to teaching in school.