Update from Mr Yates - 23.02.2021
Please see below latest information from Mr Yates which has been emailed to parents.
Dear Parent / Carer
I was beyond pleased to hear the Prime Minister confirm yesterday that schools will soon be able to reopen to all students. I'm sure you've read the headlines around the announcement and you and your family will be looking forward to the school restarting as much as we are. As always, once the national announcement has been made, further detail is then released to schools about how a process unfolds.
It takes a little time for further guidance to be released: we are expecting updates from the NHS tomorrow and OFQUAL on Thursday that may influence our decisions around how we reopen. We also need to consider several logistical issues that we will only be able to confirm once additional information is received by schools. However, I thought you would appreciate an update on what we know at this point.
Probably the most important piece of information that has been released to schools by government is that we have been asked to COVID test all students for whom consent has been provided before they are able to return to face to face teaching.
To allow schools to do this, the government has allocated the week beginning 8th of March for testing and to allow a phased return for students to school.
I fully understand that many of you will have seen headlines saying that all students will return to school on the 8th of March. This is not the case for secondary schools. I apologise for the frustration that may follow but please do not yet plan for your child to return to school on the 8th. We are working through guidance that is being released to develop the most effective plan we can to test all students during the week 8th March and to allow students to return to the classroom as quickly as possible. The capacity constraints and logistical issues around testing mean that it is likely to take a several days for us to be able to test all students across the school. The testing team have put together a professional and capable system that meets all the required standards and will allow us to test the equivalent of one student a minute when in full flow. Even though we are able to operate at such a rapid pace, the quality control, health and safety, administration and deep cleaning requirements we work within will limit the amount of time available each day that we can operate at this speed.
Essentially, some students will return early in the week of the 8th and others a little later on. I appreciate that this means some students will have returned to school several days before others but we will continue to set remote learning for those who are still based at home until they have been tested and are able to return to the classroom. I will write again as soon as possible with details of when your child can expect to be tested and when they can expect to return to face to face learning on site as soon as I can.
In the slightly longer term, the plan is that all children will be tested 3 times within school before they then move to home testing. You should also know that currently, your child must be tested in school before they can access test kits for home testing.
It is not compulsory but it is really important that you provide consent for your child to be tested. The more children we can test, the more reassured everyone can feel about how safe it is will be when students return to school. If you have not yet done so, please use the link below to provide your consent.
Your child cannot be tested without your consent (unless they are in Y12/13 when they can self consent), however, please be aware that even if you do not consent to testing, your child cannot return to school earlier than the scheduled date for other children in the same year group who are being tested.
To prevent it interfering with testing students and slowing the return for students to school, I intend to change the March 12th INSET day to a date later in the summer term. I will write to you again with the new date soon but for now, we simply want the students back as soon as possible so March 12th will be a normal school day for those who have already returned following testing and to allow us to remain open to the remaining students who may need to be tested.
We already have well tested and proven systems in place in school to prevent transmission within our school community. When students return to school the experience will be broadly similar to the autumn term with one important change around face masks. Secondary school students will now be expected to wear face masks in the classroom from when students return to school through to the Easter break. This is to provide an extra barrier to transmission during this critical phase. This measure is not currently expected to extend beyond the Easter break although it will clearly be subject to review. Please note, the guidance also makes it clear that face shields are not an acceptable alternative to face masks and should only be worn in addition to a face mask as the government is concerned that they do not deal effectively with aerosol transmission. Please remember that a small number of students are exempt from wearing face coverings for legitimate reasons and there may also be an additional number of students or staff identified who should not wear face coverings in the classroom for other reasons such as preventing effective communication for SEND reasons. Students will not be expected to wear face coverings during lessons such as active PE. However, we will be expecting your child to wear an appropriate face covering in school for large parts of the day. Please make sure you supply them with a robust and comfortable covering that they are happy to wear for the duration. They will be able to take it off when they go outside.
Examinations for Y13/11
In amongst everything else, this week we are also hoping to receive updates from OFQUAL and the DFE on how summer 2021 grades will be allocated this summer. Again, I will write with updates as soon as possible.
Thank you once more for your support and patience, we are genuinely excited to have your children back in school and I can’t wait to see them back in the classrooms and on the corridors.
Craig Yates - Headteacher