Dear Parent / Carer
I hope that you have had a pleasant summer and been able to meet up with friends and family. We are all looking forward to welcoming our students back for what I hope will be more of a ‘normal academic year’. This letter is going to focus on where we are at with COVID and expectations. I will write to you all again later next week with a more general school update.
The rate of COVID infection is still high and the general view is that this will increase when students go back to school, as has been the experience in Scotland. The key difference from this time last year is that a significant percentage of the adult population have had two doses of the COVID vaccination. The DfE guidance on managing the spread of COVID in schools has been updated to reflect the general removal of restrictions in England. At TPS we will continue to carry out the following actions to limit the spread of COVID within the school:
- Maintain enhanced cleaning during the school day.
- Students to sanitise their hands on entering classrooms and the Café.
- Doors and windows to be open to support good ventilation.
- Staggered break and lunchtime to reduce mixing across year groups.
- Identified outside ‘zones’ for year groups to spend their downtime in.
- Detailed seating plans to support the tracking of close contacts to support NHS Test and Trace.
- Students to wear their school PE kits to school on the days that they have PE.
- Students can continue to wear face coverings if they so wish.
Where the school experiences an ‘outbreak’ of cases within a group of close contacts, the local authority’s COVID response team will look to support the school. Additional measures to reduce COVID infection may be introduced for a limited period of time.
- In-house testing of students will take place twice at the beginning of this term as previously communicated in my letter dated 16th July 2021.
- There will a requirement for students to then test at home using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) twice a week and to report results online.
- It is vitally important that all students undertake this to support both the school and the wider community.
- The tests should be carried out on Sunday and Wednesday evenings beginning Sunday 12th September and any positive results reported to the school by sending an email to COVID19@priory.herts.sch.uk.
- Students in receipt of a positive LFD result must not attend school and must self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test, ideally not a postal one due to the time this has taken in the past. They can return to school once a negative PCR test result is received.
When a student develops COVID symptoms
- If a student displays COVID symptoms (a new, continuous cough; change or loss of taste or smell; or high temperature)they should not come into school. They must take a PCR test and self-isolate until the result is known.
- If anyone in school develops COVID symptoms, however mild, they will be sent home and will need to follow the above actions.
- NHS Test and Trace has the responsibility for contacting ‘close contacts’ and providing positive cases with the dates for their self-isolation.
- From our experiences last term and that of other schools it is clear there is a capacity issue in following up close contacts. To ensure that parents and students are informed quickly we will therefore continue to operate our in-house Track & Trace protocols.
- The school will contact parents of those students who we have identified as ‘close contacts’. Those students will need to take a PCR test and stay at home until the result is known.
- Those under the age of 18, irrespective of their vaccination status, will not need to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive case and have a negative PCR result
- The expectation is that all students will attend school as normal from the start of the academic year.
- Students who are not in school due to taking a PCR test (avoid doing a postal test where possible) and waiting for a result will have their absence authorised.
- Students who are self-isolating because they have COVID will have their absence authorised.
- The UK Clinical Review Panel has recommended that all young people under the age of 18 should no longer be considered CEV (clinically extremely vulnerable) and should be removed from the Shielded Patient List, the national database of people considered clinically extremely vulnerable. All young people should continue to follow the same guidance as everyone else.
- Whilst students are self-isolating or awaiting a PCR result, remote learning will be available.
- Where there are individual students off school, the provision will be through online learning resources.
- The co-ordination of online learning will be undertaken by the Head of Key Stage:
- If the situation arises that large groups of students have to self-isolate due to an ‘outbreak’ then live online lessons will be used wherever possible.
Vaccinations for young people aged 16 and 17 and ‘at risk’ 12- to 15-year-olds
- Young people aged 16 and 17 have now been invited to receive their COVID vaccination. All of Hertfordshire’s larger vaccination centres are now operating a ‘walk-in’ service, with details regularly updated at https://covid.healthierfuture.org.uk.
- Plans are also being finalised to offer the COVID vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 who are considered ‘at risk’. This includes those living with someone who is immunosuppressed and/or children who have a condition that means they are at high risk from COVID. Clinics will be run by the PCNs – groups of local GPs – and community children’s services team and will be held in dedicated vaccination centres.
- Parents of eligible ‘at risk’ children will receive a text or letter inviting them to bring their child to a clinic for their vaccination. Parents and carers are asked not to contact their GP to find out when and where their child can get their vaccine; those parents will be contacted to arrange that.
- There is much discussion on the wider vaccination of young people aged 12 to 15, which is being widely covered in the media. Once the Government has made a final decision on whether this vaccination programme will be rolled out, the relevant information with be shared with you.