Dear Parents and Carers
As you will have heard, the arrangements for the return to school of high school age children has had to be changed from what we had previously planned. Regrettably, these changes have been made by the government at very short notice and we know very little more than was announced to the public yesterday afternoon.
Lateral Flow Tests
Schools have been given the option of testing all students on their return to school. This is a huge task (particularly given the numbers involved) and we will be spending next week trying to get this set up. The biggest issue is staffing. We have calculated that we will need around 18 additional members of staff in order to facilitate this. Given that all schools are being asked to do the same thing, there are very few agency staff available. We are therefore looking for volunteers from our community who would be willing to help us, and undertake the training needed to support us. If you are interested in discussing this, then please send an email to [email protected] expressing an interest, and we will then contact you next week to discuss this in more detail.
Our priority for rolling out mass testing for students will be for Year 11 and 13 in the first instance, and then for other year groups, if and when we have the capacity to do so. The situation is changing on a daily basis so I will endeavour to keep you up to date as things progress. Our understanding at this point is that students will be offered a test once. After this, students will only be offered a test when they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case, in which case they will be tested each day for the following week. The idea behind this is to minimise the numbers of students needing tom isolate at home for 10 day periods.
In order for students to have a test, we will need parental consent for students in Years 9-11, and student consent for those in Years 12 and 13. Details of this will follow in the coming days.
Arrangements for Teaching and Learning
I have tried to summarise below our arrangements for the first two weeks of term. As I have said, things are constantly evolving, and these arrangements may need to change depending on government advice:
Week 4th-8th January
Monday 4th is now a Training Day to enable staff to prepare for online learning which will follow. No lessons will be happening on this day. For the rest of the week, all students in all year groups (with the exception of Vulnerable, EHCP and Key worker students – see details later in this letter) will learn remotely. Lessons will be taught online using Microsoft Teams. Further details and protocols regarding this will be sent separately. We already know that students will require paper copies of work, and these will be sent out to those who have previously requested it.
Week 11th-15th January
Year 11 and 13 students return to school as normal. We hope to be able to offer them a lateral flow test at some point during this week. All other students will continue to learn remotely.
Week 18th January
All students back in as normal. We hope to offer Lateral Flow Tests to other students during this week.
Vulnerable, EHCP and children of Key Workers
Schools have been asked to provide in school education for vulnerable, EHCP and children of key workers who wish to be in school. Those students who are deemed to be vulnerable or have an EHCP will be contacted by school to discuss this. For key workers, we are reque sting that the attached form is completed with all the necessary details. School will then contact these families on Monday 4th January to discuss this in more detail. However, it is important to emphasise that we wish to minimise the numbers of students in school until we have our testing systems running. Students who are in school will be working in year group bubbles. These will be in computer rooms and students will be required to log in and participate in the lessons that are being taught to all other students remotely. There will NOT be face to face lessons as this is not possible given staff will be teaching all other students online.
Any students in school will be required to wear FULL SCHOOL UNIFORM.
If you are a key worker and need your child to work in school please complete the form by clicking on this link.
A limited meal offer will be available to students who are in school and require a school meal. Free school meals will be provided for any student in school who is entitled to this. For all other FSM students, we will be arranging for vouchers to be provided (as preciously) for the time students are not in school. For example, Year 11 and 13 students would only receive this for the week 4th-8th January. Other students would receive this for two weeks. We would ask for your patience while we arrange for this to be put in place. This may take a few days next week before these are sent out.
Examinations will be continuing as planned. A number of students have public examinations in January and they should attend these exams as planned (this applies to any Year 12 students with exams as well). Year 11 and 13 mock examinations will also continue as planned, unless we are directed otherwise. Any queries relating to exams should be directed to the relevant Head of Year in the first instance.
Given the news that the latest Covid-19 variant is much more infectious, we will be reviewing our risk assessment and protocols. At present the DfE have not advised that any changes are needed, but given the huge increases in cases both locally and nationally, the school may decide to make some changes. If this is required, I will let you know.
Finally, there will be further advice and information over the coming days so please check your emails.
I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.