Dear Parents, Carers and Students

As outlined in my letter last week, we have been working to ensure a safe return to face-to-face teaching in school next week. This update includes important information about how various aspects of school will work over the coming weeks. Please ensure you familiarise yourself with this. At the heart of the measures outlined below is a desire to protect the entire school community: students, staff and families. We have already lost some members of our community and it is the responsibility of all of us to try and avoid spreading the virus to other people.

LFD Testing
We are strongly encouraging all students to consent to Lateral Flow Device Tests (LFD) on their return to school. This will help protect the entire school community. Unfortunately, we have not received a reply from around 30{0fa29e37a5ff5b819bc9d205477dcf2080d55da20457d57d8c85d351a6dec1cb} of families, which we are following up with phone calls. This has delayed the publication of our testing timetable. However, 6th Form students were tested yesterday, and will be tested again on Friday before their return to lessons in school on Monday. The table below outlines the testing timetable and return to school dates for the other year groups. Individual emails will be sent to students having tests later this week, giving a time that they need to come to school. After the test is complete students will be sent home again. Each year group will then start face to face lessons in school on the day following the tests.

Year Group Day of first LFD test Day of return to lessons in school
11 Monday 8th March Tuesday 9th March
10 Tuesday 9th March Wednesday 10th March
9 Wednesday 10th March Thursday 11th March

Students who have consented to tests will then receive two more tests during the following two- week period. We hope that all tests will be completed by Thursday 18th March. After this, students will receive test kits to allow them to test at home. We will send more information regarding this next week. Parents and other family members of school aged children are also entitled to home test kits, although we are unable to supply these. Again, more information regarding this will follow.

We appreciate that some students are nervous about having a test, especially if they have not had one previously. Mrs Stephenson has kindly put together a video walkthrough of the process explain each stage and what to expect. Please see the video here.

If you are bringing your child into school on their testing day and wish to wait for them, please use the overflow carpark to park and wait.  This is through the Grove Street gates, turn right and go down the ramp, continue across the lower car park onto the overflow carpark.  There will be signposts showing the way.  Please do not use the top or bottom carparks and please wait in your car and do not come up to the testing station with your child.

Vulnerable and Critical Worker Provision
Onsite provision for vulnerable and critical worker students will stop on Friday 5th March. Students should then attend for testing and normal lessons with the rest of their year group.

On-line Learning
On-line remote lessons will continue for Year 10 students on Monday and Year 9 students on Monday and Tuesday.  During the testing days consolidated lessons will be uploaded and available to those students who are not being tested.

Face Coverings
You will no doubt have read much comment about the advice for high school students to wear face coverings in the classroom. I am extraordinarily disappointed in the government over the stance they have taken on this. When I wrote to you last week, our understanding was that this was compulsory.  Since then, ministers have been interviewed on a number of news outlets and said this is ‘strongly recommended’, leaving schools such as ours in a very difficult position. Although we are now unable to make this compulsory, we are asking students to do this. In order to make the school as safe as we can for the entire community, including the adults that work here, we are ‘strongly recommending’ students adhere to this guidance. Unfortunately, where parents and carers do not support this, the rest of the community (including other parents and carers) will have to accept this. It is not for the school to enforce a rule on which government is not prepared to be decisive.

However, the wearing of face coverings in all corridors and communal areas continues to be mandatory and we expect all students (unless they have an agreed exemption) to adhere to this.

Guidance on exemptions can be found here.

I would also remind students that wearing face coverings is mandatory in shops and on buses.

Uniform
We are expecting students to return to school in full uniform.  However, we appreciate that at the current time obtaining new uniform may be difficult.  If you have any difficulties obtaining uniform, please email or telephone your child’s head of year.  A reminder that vivid coloured hair is not permitted, and neither are nose piercings.  This is particularly important in the Covid pandemic with potential transmission of Covid droplets.  We do not want children touching their noses.   We will accept a clear stud.

PE kit needs to worn on PE days.  Black tracksuit, sports leggings or jogging bottoms can we worn.  We would recommend wearing a coat, as windows and doors will be open in classrooms.  Hoodies are not permitted.

Laptops
During the pandemic we have loaned laptops to students who needed them.  If your child has been loaned a laptop or wi-fi dongle then this needs to be returned to the school on the first day they attend face to face lessons.  Students can hand over the laptop before school to an ICT technician located in the Dining Hall or during registration in the Library. 

Bubbles, Timings and Entrances
As I outlined last week, we will be resuming the arrangements we had before Christmas. This means that students need to arrive at school at the same times as the Autumn Term and use the same entrances to school. We will continue to keep students in bubbles and with separate break/ lunchtimes until at least Easter.

I look forward to seeing all the students back in school next week. At last, it feels like there is some light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s make ensure we all play our part in making sure we don’t end up in yet another lockdown.

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes

Adrian Ward