Update from Mr Yates - 08.07.2021
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Following the announcement by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education over the last couple of days, I wanted to write and explain how we intend to operate between now and the end of our summer term.
You will be aware that the Prime Minister announced the intention to lift almost all controls around COVID from the 19th of July. Many schools across the country will have finished and closed for the summer before the 19th and are unaffected by any changes until they return in September. Buxton Community School does not close until the 22nd of July, so we have had to carefully consider how we would like to operate between the 19th and the 22nd of July.
19th to 22nd July at BCS
After careful thought, the governors and leaders at BCS have decided to continue with our COVID safety protocols through to the end of term on the 22nd of July. This means we will continue with the controlled start and end to the day and with the bubble structure within school through to the end of term. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, infection rates in the area have been increasing and I believe that our systems and controls are helping to prevent infection between students in school. I would like to continue our efforts to prevent as many students as possible from contracting COVID. Secondly, there will still be a requirement for identified close contacts with a positive case to self-isolate at this point in time. By continuing with our COVID safety protocols and the bubble structure, I am hopeful that we can prevent as many close contacts as possible from occurring; this in turn will lead to a reduction in the number of students and staff needing to self-isolate during the early weeks of the summer holiday.
For the time being, we are still enforcing the re-introduction of the wearing of face coverings in communal spaces. From the 19th of July, in line with government recommendations, we will still encourage and support any individual who wishes to a face covering in communal spaces, but we will no longer mandate that all students and staff who are not exempt must do so. However, I would like to reinforce that any individual who wishes to continue to wear a face covering in communal spaces up to the end of the school year should feel free to do so.
From the 19th July onwards
From the 19th of July you will no longer be contacted by school about potential close contacts with positive cases. From this date you will be contacted directly by the NHS service if your child has been identified as a possible close contact by an individual who has tested positive for COVID. Until then, we are still required to identify and instruct close contacts with positive cases to self-isolate and we will continue to do this until the 19th of July.
Additional changes then take place over the summer. Most importantly, the legal requirement to work in year group specific bubbles is being lifted. This means that from September students will no longer need to work within geographical restrictions at school. We are planning to return a more conventional model where students move between classrooms and have access to subject specialist resources and facilities such as laboratories and practical spaces and I am sure that staff and students will be really looking forward to that happening.
From August 16th, students under the age of 18 will no longer be required to self-isolate after a close contact with an individual who is tested positive for COVID. As a result, this means that, from September, we do not anticipate the need to send home significant numbers of students for precautionary reasons as we have had to do in recent weeks.
If your child is in year 13 from September 2021, it is quite likely that they will turn 18 years of age during the 2021-2022 school year. Currently, the guidance we have been asked to work to will allow an additional four months for those who turn 18 to become fully vaccinated before the requirement to self-isolate following a close contact with the positive case would take effect. Where a year 13 student makes the decision do not become fully vaccinated, then should they have a close contact with a positive case they would be required to self-isolate in line with national requirements.
It is important that you understand that some instructions from the government are unchanged and that if your child shows symptoms of COVID or tests positive for the virus they must still remain at home in line with the government regulations. Schools have also been instructed that if a student shows COVID symptoms they must be sent home. This will continue to be the case in September.
From the 16th of August the government will also lift the requirement for adults who have been fully vaccinated to self-isolate after a close contact. I'm sure you will be pleased to hear that this should also lead to a significant reduction in the number of staff unable to work on site from September.
This does not mean that we have forgotten or are unconcerned about the impact of COVID on our young people and members of the school community for the new school year. We are fully committed to maintaining our enhanced cleaning and hygiene routines and to maintaining the high profile personal care and hygiene messages with our students. There are also several elements of the way that we've been operating recently that we would like to retain in September.
Home Testing over the summer
We will give out another set of LFD home testing kits next week. Students are still encouraged to test in the holidays and further supplies of home test kits can be collected from their local pharmacy. Schools will return to distributing home test kits on the students return in September.
Return to school testing in September
We will also be offering each student two tests on site in school before they return to the classroom in September. We are currently working through the logistics of how this can be best implemented and how we can most quickly but safely return to normal teaching and operation in September 2021. Further information on testing will come out as soon as we've made final decisions on how this will be done, along with reminders closer to the start of the new term. In preparation for testing you will receive a request from us to renew your consent for on-site testing and, if your child is in our new year seven for September 2021, to provide initial consent.
I'm sure by now you fully understand the challenges that the pandemic has presented for your children and for their schooling. We spent much of the last six months thinking about how education should look at BCS from September and how we can best tackle the ongoing impact of COVID and the disruption it caused for your children. I am confident that our plans and the work we will put in place will help to make sure that every child can fulfil their full potential before they leave us. For some, this will mean getting back to normal; for others, it might mean a range of interventions and different opportunities. As always, the most important thing for us will be to understand how each individual child needs to be supported. Leaders from across a range of responsibilities will write to you during the new school year and keep you fully informed of the work that's going on with your children to make sure that they receive the support they need. I am resisting the urge to write more about our plans as I am genuinely excited at the thought that we will have the opportunity to refocus all of our efforts back on to the learning that your children experience. This letter is intended to update you on some of the more practical elements for the next few months, but I wanted to reassure you that the bulk of our efforts and planning are focused where you would hope they would be.
As always, I want to thank you for your patience and support through the most challenging of school years. The partnership between parents and school has never been more important.
Craig Yates - Head teacher