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Headteacher’s letter March 12th 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

It is so good to be back! Things have gone really well this week and we are very pleased to report that we are approaching five days into the nine-day testing programme and the students have been FANTASTIC. By next Thursday, all students will have undertaken their third and final test and by the end of next week we also expect to have distributed the first batch of test at home kits to all students. Given the importance of this next step, my letter to you is devoted to this single topic.

Testing at Home

You will be aware that this is going to be a programme that takes place in homes right across England, from next week. Like everything else, what seems a bit overwhelming right now will be second nature within a fortnight.

I would rather not use my letter to try and summarise how to conduct the tests. I shall leave that to the NHS test and trace experts (!) who have produced clear guides and posters for everyone to use.

However, what I will try and do is to suggest the order in which you navigate the material that is available for us all to use so that we can be ready to help our children carry out a test every Wednesday and Sunday evening.

Step 1: Study the poster opposite. It gives a simple summary of the process and will be very familiar to your children by the time they take their third test at school!

Step 2: Take a look at the ‘easy to read’ guide on how to conduct a test. The guide is attached to the InTouch email that delivered this letter to you.

Step 3: Watch this short YouTube video introduction.

Step 4: If you wish, you can then dig deeper into some of the wider questions about the programme and how to register the results. Take a look at ‘A Guide for Regular Testing for Parents’. The guide is also attached to the InTouch email that delivered this letter.

Step 5: By following this link to the NHS test and trace website, you will be able to access more detailed instructions on how to test at home in English, and also eleven other languages: العربية, বাংলা, Cymraeg, ગુજરાતી, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Polski, Română, Soomaaliga, Türkçe, اردو and 中文.

Failing all of that, your children will be given a pamphlet with their test kits to explain everything as well. The pamphlet explains how to register your result.

I know that there will be a range of feelings about the commencement of home testing. What seems important is to set out options, so that families can delve into this as much or as little as they wish.

In any case, I strongly recommend that some time be carved out this weekend for the whole family to look at the material and feel prepared for when those packs arrive home next week.

However, no family will be left on its own to struggle through this next phase. This is why we urge parents and carers to make direct contact with us if you want a helping hand through this process. Every family will need something different, but we can work with you to find out the help you need and be there for you.

As is becoming a pattern with these things, I have put together some anticipated questions and answers…

Who should I contact if I need help or if I am feeling a bit stuck?

It is really is up to you. Contact the person you feel most comfortable talking through the issues. It might be the head of year / assistant head of year, or it could be one of our family support workers ([email protected] or [email protected]) or a member of the leadership team.

When will my son or daughter take their first test?

Home tests begin after the school testing is complete. This means each year group will carry out their first home test as follows:

  • Years 11, 12 and 13: Wednesday 17 March
  • Years 7, 8, 9 and 10: Sunday 21 March

How will my children receive their test kits?

Your son or daughter’s tutor will distribute the kits in tutor time. New supplies will be provided every few weeks by their tutor. Kits must arrive home to you unopened.

When will my children receive their test kits?

  • Wednesday 17 March: Years 11, 12 and 13:
  • Thursday 18 March: Years 9 and 10.
  • Friday 19 March: Years 7 and 8.

What do I do if the kit arrives home and it appears to have been opened?

Every box will be double-checked to make sure the seals are intact before it is handed to your son or daughter. Students will be asked to ensure they do not open the box and look at the contents until they get home. If you have concerns then please contact the head of year or assistant head of year and we shall try to secure you a spare pack. Alternatively, if you wish to collect your son or daughter’s test kits then do get in touch.

What should I do if my child is absent when test kits are distributed?

Your son or daughter will be able to collect their kit when they return to school.

How many test kits will they receive?

Your children will receive six test kits – in two boxes of three. We expect another delivery of test kits within the next few weeks and will distribute those before the first batch runs out.

Can parents and carers have some kits for their own use?

Unfortunately, no.

When should my son or daughter take their test?

We are recommending that all students and all staff take their test at some point after school on a Wednesday, and every Sunday afternoon. We shall use In-Touch to send reminders until we all build up the habit.  However, it really is up to you to choose a time that suits your family as long as each test is 3-5 days apart. If you forget on Wednesday, just do it on Thursday.

Are the tests compulsory?

No. We very strongly recommend their use across our community to increase the detection of asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. In doing so we all seek to reduce rates of infection at school, locally and nationally.

What if my child tests positive?

Seek an immediate PCR test to confirm the result. Until the outcome of that PCR test is known, the entire household must self-isolate (for up to 10 days).

If a home test produces a positive result but the PCR test produces a negative result, which one is followed and which one is ignored?

The result of the PCR test ‘trumps’ the result of all home test results.

What do we do once we have a result?

You need to do two things:

  • Firstly, upload your result to the NHS test and trace service using this link or copying this address into your browser: gov.uk/report-covid19-result. If the result is positive then book the PCR test right away and stay at home.
  • Secondly, upload your result to our internal school spreadsheet via this Google Form. This will take less than 30 seconds to complete.
  • Finally, contact the appropriate head of year or assistant head of year if the result is positive to discuss next steps.

What happens if one of my children’s classmates tests positive?

Just like in the autumn term, we shall have to carry out a check on close contacts and ask identified individuals to remain at home and self-isolate for up to 10 days.

Who are close contacts?

There are three types of close contacts:

  • Proximity contacts: Anyone who has had extended close contact (within two metres for more than 15 minutes) with a person with a positive coronavirus test result. This tends to include those children who sit in front and next to a student who has tested positive. But this also might include friendship groups that do not socially distance at break time.
  • Direct close contacts: Anyone who has had face-to-face contact with a person with a positive coronavirus test result, within one metre for one minute or longer. This includes those who have been coughed on, had a face-to-face conversation, or physical contact (skin to skin).
  • Small vehicle contacts: Anyone who has travelled in a small vehicle with a person with a positive coronavirus test result.

 

If my son or daughter wears a face covering all day long, will they be exempt from being identified as a close contact?

No. It is worth remembering that one of the main reasons for wearing face coverings is that they protect others from us.

When will the home testing end?

We expect the programme to continue into at least April or May, possibly longer.

There will be a better time to reflect on the reopening of our school and the thousand ways in which this week has been so good for us all.

Yours faithfully

Mr Doherty

Headteacher

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