Important Start of Term Arrangements (Jan 2021)
I hope that all our families have managed to make the best of the Christmas celebrations despite the challenging circumstances. I would also like to offer a huge thank you to the Senior Leadership Team, Teaching Staff and Parents who have helped us to complete our Track and Trace commitment to Public Health England right up until Christmas Eve.
I have some information for you all following the short notice government announcement on Thursday 17th December that secondary schools cannot open to all students at the start of term for face to face teaching. You will appreciate that given the timing of this announcement, we wanted to take some time to plan our response and also allow the government to confirm their position as we have all become accustomed to their numerous U-Turns and last-minute changes. Even though the government have said that they remain open to changes, they have today offered some tentative confirmation of their intentions. I therefore feel it is now appropriate to contact you with our plans. The letter will cover five main areas:
1. Staggered return to school
2. Critical Workers
3. Vulnerable Children
4. Asymptomatic Covid 19 testing for Students and Staff
5. Free School Meals
Staggered return to school
To comply with the government plans, the start of next term will now be as follows:
Monday 4th January 2021 will be a staff training day. No students should attend school on this day. The government has said that schools can have this as an extra training day so that we can set up asymptomatic Covid 19 testing centres in our schools. This extra non-pupil day will allow us to begin training and preparation to implement testing. The only thing that will stop us from achieving this would be if the Lateral Flow Tests and staff training resources are not issued to our school on or by the 4th of January. The staff will also use the day as an opportunity to ensure that remote learning is of the highest quality.
From Tuesday 5th January – Friday 8th January 2021, all students will be taught remotely with the exception of:
· Year 11 students
· Year 13 students
· Children of critical workers (where no other childcare provision is available)
· Vulnerable children
These identified groups of students will be able to come into school for face to face teaching.
This means that all students (except for Years 11, 13, critical worker children and vulnerable students) will receive their teaching online from 5th- 8th January.
This will allow our Year 11 and 13 students to continue to prepare for their up and coming mock examinations that will take place between the 20th Jan – 1stFeb. As it stands, all students will return to school for face to face teaching on Monday 11th January 2021.
In order that we can support critical worker children, if you are a critical worker and want your child to come into school from Tuesday 5th January 2021, please click on the link below and provide us with your details. The deadline for completing of the survey is 5pm on Sunday 3rd January.
Critical Workers Sign Up Form https://bit.ly/2L3Y8ay
The government definition for critical workers can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision. We will confirm all childcare places as soon as we are able to. Please only request this provision if it is essential.
Vulnerable children who we require to attend school between Tuesday 5th and Friday 8th January 2021, will be contacted on Monday 4th January 2021 by our Pastoral & SEND staff.
Asymptomatic Covid 19 testing for students and staff
The announcement about Covid 19 testing in schools is positive and something we welcome as it will make schools safer and reduce the need for children to be sent home when identified as a close contact. Although this is well intended, we are very much aware of the enormous challenges we have to overcome, including the location of a testing centre on site, staffing and the administration of the tests themselves.
The government are looking for schools to implement a “screening” programme in January. In addition, they also want staff and students that are identified as close contacts to be tested daily for a week so that they can continue to attend school. We will handle your child’s data with the same level of protection whether their test is returned with either a positive or negative result.
If your child test positive, then we will ask them to be collected from school and for their parent/carer to book them a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test through NHS Track & Trace. Any close contacts will be able to stay in school as long as their parents have given consent for them to administer their own lateral flow test every day for 5 days. If a child tests positive during this process, then once again they will be asked to be collected from school and for their parent/carer to book a PCR test through NHS Track and Trace. The Government have stated that if parents do not give consent for their child taking lateral flow tests, then their child will have to self-isolate for 10 days. It is parental choice whether they give consent for their child to be involved in the testing but the more parental consents that we have, the more effective the testing process will be across the school.
Please be reassured that before any testing takes place, we will be seeking parental consent - please click on the link below to give your consent. We would appreciate parents/carers completing the link by 5pm on Sunday 3rd January as it will help us to plan ahead.
Asymptomatic Testing Parental Consent https://bit.ly/3oahvxH
Asymptomatic Covid 19 Testing - Community Volunteers
As you will probably be aware, testing our students and staff on this scale is a huge logistical and financial undertaking for our school, with potentially very limited support from the Government. We are therefore seeking volunteers who would be willing to help us to administer and organise the Rapid Covid-19 Tests. A medical background is not required but would be advantageous. All volunteers will be provided with full training and PPE equipment. Anyone who can donate their time to help us to keep our community safe whilst also allowing our teachers to continue to offer a high-quality education to our students would be greatly appreciated. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. All volunteers would have to be subject to a DBS check. Thank you.
Free School Meals
If your child is in years 7, 8, 9, 10 or 12 and is unable to attend school from Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th January and are in receipt of free school meals, we will be able to provide you with a food voucher similar to those that were distributed during the Christmas period. Please inform us if your child is not attending school and you would like to receive a voucher by e-mailing email@example.com by 11.00am on Monday 4th January 2021.
This information maps out our immediate plans for the week beginning 4th January 2021. However, we are ready to react to any further developments as they arise and will look to communicate them to you as soon as we possibly can.
Once again, a huge thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to react during these unprecedented times.
I hope you get the opportunity to celebrate the New Year.
Steve Rogers (Headteacher)