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Letter from the Headteacher (2) - A Testing Start

Dear Parents and Carers

It was fantastic to welcome back all of our students this week. We have been really impressed with their attitude and enthusiasm towards their learning. Students have received a number of face and face and pre-recorded presentations that have clearly set out our expectations and the support they will be offered across the academic year. They have also been issued with their knowledge organisers and workbooks. We have had some teething problems with our lunchtime biometrics system and we are working hard to resolve these. We have more details about this later in this letter.


Prep Time and Year 7 Learning to Learn

We have launched two new initiatives this year that are designed to promote our new core value of resilience; independent learning and to improve our students’ knowledge in all areas of the curriculum. This week Year 7 had an excellent start in their Learning to Learn lessons. They engaged brilliantly in developing one of the key independent learning strategies that will help them as they begin their learning journey here with us.


Years 7 and 11 have also completed their first Prep Time sessions. Our final lesson of the day Monday to Thursday is an opportunity for students to complete one home learning task from their knowledge organisers. We were delighted to see students organised, working independently and showing real focus in these lessons. One new member of staff even remarked, ‘It’s like they’ve been doing this for years.’ Well done to Year 7 and Year 11 for making such a positive start.


Results from Testing

Unfortunately, today we have recorded 32 positive LFD tests in Year 7 and 1 positive in Year 8. These students have been sent home to book a PCR test. Yesterday we also informed you of 3 students that have had a positive PCR test that have not been in school and 2 students that have been in school this term. We have been in communication with PHE today. They have advised that at this stage our setting should not take any further action.

There are a few students that have tested positive with a PCR test over the summer holiday and as they don’t have any current or new symptoms, they would still be able to come back into school on Monday. The guidance states that anyone who has previously received a positive COVID-19 PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test unless they develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.


We know that you may find this concerning and we are continuing to monitor the situation working closely with Public Health England. This letter is to inform you of the current situation and provide advice on how to support your child. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.


The Ilfracombe Academy remains fully open and your child should continue to attend as normal if they remain well. We encourage household members that are aged 11 and over to continue with twice weekly LFD testing to help identify cases promptly.

If you think your child is a close contact but has not have not been contacted directly by NHS Test and Trace please follow this guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-contacts-of-people-with-possible-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person/guidance-for-contacts-of-people-with-possible-or-confirmed-coronavirus-covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person#i-think-i-have-had-contact-with-someone-who-has-tested-positive-for-covid-19-but-i-have-not-been-notified-and-advised-to-self-isolate-what-should-i-do


What to do if your child develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or tests positive for COVID-19

If your child develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), they should get a PCR test and remain at home at least until the result is known. If negative, the child can end self-isolation; if positive, the child should isolate until at least 10 days after their symptoms appeared. Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia). If the child has a positive test result but do not have symptoms, they should stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the date the positive test was taken. This isolation period will be extended if they go on to develop symptoms by counting 10 full days from the day following their symptom onset. Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for a PCR test (the normally available test type) and this can be arranged via Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or by calling 119.

Instructions for people who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 (tested positive or symptomatic awaiting a test result)

From 16th August, you will not be required to self-isolate if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and any of the following apply:

  • you are fully vaccinated

  • you are below the age of 18 years 6 months

  • you have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial

  • you are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons


Fully vaccinated means that you have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine.

NHS Test and Trace will contact you to let you know that you have been identified as a contact and check whether you are legally required to self-isolate. If you are not legally required to self-isolate, you will be provided with advice on testing and given guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19. Even if you do not have symptoms, you will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible.


Any member of the household who is aged 18 years and 6 months or over and has only received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine or has not received any dose of the COVID-19 vaccination will still be required to self-isolate as household contact of a someone with COVID-19 symptoms awaiting testing and someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Please read the stay at home guidance which provides information on this.

Household members who are not exempt from isolation as close contacts should not go to work, school/college/childcare/education setting or public areas, and exercise should be taken within the home. If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you should ask friends or family. Alternatively, you can order your shopping online and medication by phone or online. Household members staying at home for 10 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.


You could be fined if you do not self-isolate following a notification by NHS Test and Trace. You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to stay at home and self-isolate or you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate.


Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be supported to minimise their contact with other people in the household during this period, regardless of whether others have symptoms or not.


Instructions for household contacts who are not required to self-isolate from 16 August

Even if you are vaccinated, you can still be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on to others. If you are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 but you are not required to self-isolate, you can help protect others by following the guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread. As well as getting a PCR test, you may also consider:

  • limiting close contact with other people outside your household, especially in enclosed spaces

  • wearing a face covering for those aged 11 and over in crowded places such as school/college/public transport

  • limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable

  • taking part in regular LFD testing

You should follow this advice while the person in your household with COVID-19 is self-isolating.

If you are a health or social care worker or a student undertaking a work placement who has been identified as a household contact and are exempt from self-isolation, there is additional guidance available that you should follow to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in these settings.

If you develop symptoms at any time, even if these are mild, self-isolate immediately, arrange to have a COVID-19 PCR test and follow the guidance for people with COVID-19 symptoms.


For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

If your child does develop symptoms, you can seek advice from the nhs.uk website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/. If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, or they are worsening you can seek advice from NHS 111 at https://111.nhs.uk/ or by phoning 111.


How to stop coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading

There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • get vaccinated – everyone aged 18 and over can book COVID-19 vaccination appointments now and 16-17 year olds are being offered 1 dose of the vaccination by 23 August

  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

  • meet people outside and avoid crowded areas

  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside

  • wear a face covering if aged 11 and over when it's hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places

  • participate in twice weekly LFD testing following national guidelines (recommended for 11 years and over). We encourage you to log your results here: https://www.gov.uk/log-test-site-covid19-results


Further Information

Further information is available at

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/


Year 6 Open Evening

We are very keen to be able to invite parents and carers to a ‘live’ Open Evening this year as we want you all to be able to see the amazing work produced by our wonderful students. However, with the situation outlined above, we will monitor the situation and make a decision about how Open Evening will proceed by Monday 13th September and communicate this to parents/carers and our feeder primaries. I’m sure you appreciate that we are a community school and have their safety and best interests at heart.


Piercings, False Nails and Hair

May we remind parents/carers and students of our policy regarding the above. Students are permitted one small pair of stud earrings only. Nose piercings must be removed. False nails should not be worn in school – again these need to be removed during term time. Hairstyles should not be extreme in terms of either style or colour.





Year 7 Biometrics System Issues

We have been experiencing some issues with our Biometrics system which is currently not allowing Year 7 students’ lunch accounts to be electronically topped up. As you will know parents credit their child’s account through Weduc. This then uses a process called Squid to transfer the credit to the CRB Cunninghams software which runs internally here and controls our internal cashless systems. The problem is that the records in Squid are not matching those in the Cunninghams software so the money is being ‘held’ by Squid. There are several other schools that have been adversely affected with the same issue. The school have talked extensively to CRB Cunninghams again this morning and one of their senior engineers is working on a solution. It looks as if the Squid records need to be updated to match the CRB Cunninghams records so that transfers can flow through again.


This means that we have had a few issues at social times in clearing the tills as we are having to annotate each student’s purchase as they go through the system. To alleviate the issue in the short-term we have allocated a £10 ‘overdraft’ to all Year 7 students so they can use our biometric tills for the time being. As and when the problem is fixed which hopefully should be by Monday 13th September, the students accounts will be automatically credited, and their overdrafts repaid and will once again reconfigure the Year 7 accounts with no overdraft allowance.

Ventilation at The Ilfracombe Academy

Here at the Ilfracombe Academy, we recognise the essential role that ventilation plays in keeping people safe during these unprecedented times. Each of our classrooms are fitted with their own dedicated mechanical ventilation system providing plenty of fresh, clean air directly from outside. Recently serviced, our system is running at full capacity to ensure that students and staff are receiving the best possible ventilation. Of course, when it comes to fresh air there is no substitute for open windows. Here at The Ilfracombe Academy, we maintain a policy of open windows and doors throughout our school to further promote airflow. Fresh air, from both mechanical and natural sources, ensures that the students, staff and visitors to our school can breathe easy as they go about their day.


We have recommissioned our changing rooms this term and the health and safety team have confirmed that we have more than sufficient air flow through the changing rooms as we again have mechanical ventilation in the changing rooms drawing fresh air in and stale air back outside.


We have the windows in the shower rooms open and the outside door held open when the students are in the changing rooms to promote even more airflow. Gov.uk recommends that each person in a room should receive no less than 5 litres of fresh air per second in a classroom. Our mechanical ventilation system can provide a class of 35 with approximately 8 litres per second, per student!


Combined with open windows, the overall air flow is even better. Access to clean, fresh air is crucial for the wellbeing and safety of our school. We are working closely with Devon County Council and the Department for Education to ensure we continue to provide our students and staff with the best possible work environment during these difficult times.


Useful Links:

Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (hse.gov.uk)

BB 101: Ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality 2018 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

As ever the school will continue to monitor and make any adjusts in our way of working in line with any further guidance. This guidance will always be clearly communicated to our students and their parents/carers.


I hope all our students and their families enjoy the weekend.


Yours sincerely




Steve Rogers

Headteacher

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