Update from the Headteacher Monday 30th August 2021.
The move to Step 4 of the roadmap marks a new phase in the government’s response to the pandemic, moving away from stringent restrictions on everyone’s day-to-day lives, towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk.
The government updated it’s guidance to schools on the 19th July 2021 and set out the actions that school leaders should take to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their school. This includes public health advice, endorsed by Public Health England(PHE) You can read this guidance here: Schools COVID-19 operational guidance
In line with this guidance, we have updated our risk assessment and Remote Learning Policy and produced a COVID-19 Contingency Outbreak Management Plan, which outlines how we will step up protective measures if we are required to do so again. You can read these here:
Whilst many of the restrictions have been removed nationally, we will continue to prioritise preventing the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Ensuring regular handwashing and good hygiene for everyone.
- Maintaining regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces
- Keeping all occupied spaces well ventilated.
- Following the Public Health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19
*Changes to contact tracing in schools and colleges*
One of the key changes from 19 July is that education and childcare settings will no longer be asked to conduct routine contact tracing. As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with either the positive case – or in the case of children – the parents, carers or guardian of the positive case to identify close contacts.
*We will no longer routinely be required to send all children in a bubble group home to isolate in the event of a positive case.
What you need to do if your child develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19.
Self-isolating and taking a test
- If your child has symptoms, they should self-isolate – and you should inform the school/nursery. You should immediately order a PCR test for them. If the PCR result is negative, they can stop self-isolating (unless instructed to self-isolate for other reasons). If the PCR result is positive, they and any close contacts identified by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
- If your child has a positive result from a lateral flow device (LFD) test, they should self-isolate – and you should inform the school/nursery. You should immediately order a confirmatory PCR test. If the confirmatory test is taken within two days and the result is negative, they can stop self-isolating (unless instructed to self-isolate for other reasons). If the confirmatory PCR test is positive (or is taken more than two days after the LFD), any close contacts identified by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the LFD test.
PCR tests can be booked online through the NHS Test & Trace website or by calling 119.
PCR test results will be recorded with NHS Test and Trace automatically, but you should also communicate the result to the education or childcare setting during term time or summer provision.
- If your child gets a positive PCR test result, NHS Test and Trace will contact you, using the details you registered when ordering the PCR test. You and/or your child will be asked a series of specific questions designed to identify who your child has been in close contact with. Being in an education or childcare setting with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not necessarily mean a person is identified as a close contact.
- You will be asked to provide the contact details, if you know them, of any of the individuals – or their parents or guardians – who have been identified as close contacts. NHS Test and Trace will then get in touch with these close contacts and provide appropriate instructions or advice.
Self-isolation and/or testing of close contacts
- At present, anyone identified as a close contact is legally required to self-isolate and must not attend their education or childcare setting (the only exception is if they are participating in a daily contact testing trial). Anyone identified as a non-household close contact by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the date of their most recent contact with that person. If they live in the same household, they must self-isolate until 10 days after the date of that person developing symptoms (see point 1 above) or, if that person was asymptomatic, the date of their test (see point 2 above). NHS Test and Trace will notify you of the day on which the self-isolation period ends.
- Close contacts are also advised to take a PCR test. If the test result is negative, they must still complete the full self-isolation period, as the test will not detect all positive cases. If the result is positive, they will need to self-isolate for a further 10 days – and NHS Test and Trace will contact them to identify any close contacts.
- Since the 16 August, if the close contact is under 18 or fully vaccinated, they will not have to self-isolate but will be asked to take an PCR test immediately, other than for very young children identified as non-household contacts, and they will not need to self-isolate while awaiting the results of the test. If the PCR test is positive, they will be required to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. NHS Test and Trace will then get in touch to identify close contacts (see points 5 and 6 above).
As COVID-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education.
Our top priority is to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all our children. The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.
We recognise how difficult the past 18 months have been and the sacrifices that all families, children and schools have had to make. This has been an enormously challenging time for everyone and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for everything you have done to support us.
I am hopeful that there will be significantly less disruption in the new academic year and that our children can once again enjoy the full, broad and rich curriculum and pastoral offer that we pride ourselves in offering at Thames.
Mrs Julie Allison