Reopening of Educational Diversity on March 8th 2021
You will be aware that the government has recently declared that schools will reopen for all pupils from the 8th March 2021. This is the first part of a four part plan to ease the country safely out of lockdown measures. The rates of death and the rates of infection are continuing to reduce and the government is also much clearer now about the measures that need to be put in place to create safer environments within education settings. In addition, the vaccination programme is going really well and the government believes that by the beginning of July, all adults will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
You may have heard that testing for those without coronavirus symptoms has been rolled out across the country using new, quicker COVID-19 tests known as ‘lateral flow devices’. As part of this return to school, secondary aged students will be encouraged to take part in this testing. On return to school, those young people who have consent from their parents / carers, will initially be tested three times. These tests will take place at 3 day intervals and although testing remains voluntary, it will be strongly encouraged. I have enclosed a consent form that needs to be completed in order for us to test your son / daughter
We will be looking to test all our staff and young people who will be in the Centres from the 8th March 2021. Once the 3 tests have been completed as detailed above, the young people will have twice weekly tests in school for the remainder of the term, or until the guidance changes. This will replace the need for you to complete tests at home as we recognise that the self-swabbing part of the test may cause significant concerns for some children and young people and their families. Some of these concerns may be eased by discussing them in school and agreeing strategies to help reduce anxiety and putting in place any reasonable adjustments.
The young people taking the test will be supervised by trained staff and volunteers. The lateral flow tests are quick and easy to undertake, using a swab of the nose and throat. Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared directly with the individual participant. The school will inform the student of a positive test result along with yourselves as the parent or carer. The student will also receive a text/email notification of a positive or negative result from the online NHS system. Tests are free.
As you know we have already welcomed back a number of pupils during these last few weeks and we are delighted that we are now able to invite all of our young people back into school. Over the next few days leading up to the 8th March 2021, colleagues will be making contact with you directly to make sure you have the opportunity to ask any questions or to raise any concerns that you may have. These conversations will also allow us to gain a better understanding of how you and your son / daughter are doing and whether there is any additional support that we can offer you.
In order to minimise unnecessary contact between the different year groups within school, we will be introducing a slightly staggered start and end of the school day for some children and different entrances and exits to and from the school building. We will let you know when your child is expected to arrive and finish school during the first week back. I need to remind you though that from March, attendance at school is mandatory for all young people, unless your child is self-isolating as they have symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19, or are living closely with someone who has the virus.
As in previous months, the school day will look a little different for your child when they return, as for the majority of the time they will remain in their form rooms with teachers moving between classes. This is to reduce the movement of young people within the building and limit contact in and around school.
We are trying to discourage the use of public transport, but if your child does have to use this as a method of travel to school, please be aware that, as of the 15.6.20, all those using this method must use appropriate face coverings. This could be a face mask, or another face covering, such as a scarf or a balaclava. Please send children in their school uniform.
We realise that this is a worrying time for everybody and would like to reassure you as much as possible that we have the appropriate safety measures in place. These include, staggered arrival and exit times and access to hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities at all times. We will also be advising both staff and pupils to wear face coverings at all times where social distancing cannot be maintained but will be insisting on this in communal areas. Staff will model and encourage all children to adhere to social distancing.
Please do not hesitate to contact myself or your Lead Teacher in the coming weeks if you have any queries or concerns.
We are asking you and your child, along with our staff to commit to helping us achieve a safe environment for everyone, which may involve us working together slightly differently.