Dear Parent / Carer
I hope you have been able to enjoy the festive season and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year.
To some extent it feels rather like déjà vu as this time last year we were due to test students and then went into lockdown. Thankfully for all concerned, lockdown is not on the agenda. However, the reality is that education will be disrupted due to the high infection rates. The DfE has estimated that school staff absence rates due to COVID could reach 25%.
As we progress through January into early February I am expecting the school to have an increasing number of staff absent with COVID, which will cause disruption to student learning.
- We have a dedicated team of in-house cover supervisors who step in to take lessons when teaching staff are absent.
- Other key support staff and teachers will always take on additional cover when required in the short term.
- When our in-house cover is fully utilised we supplement this with agency staff. This has been problematic recently due to an increase in demand from all school settings.
- The school hall will be set up as one large classroom (exam desks) in the event that we do not have the capacity to cover all lessons. Students will come to the hall and complete supervised online learning.
- Students who are self-isolating will continue to be set work by class teachers, and the same protocols apply as before Christmas. The co-ordination of online learning will be undertaken by the Head of Key Stage:
- Key Stage 3 Mr Freeland Freeland@priory.herts.sch.uk
- Key Stage 4 Miss Follano Follano@priory.herts.sch.uk
- Logistically it is difficult to set up learning on the day that the school is notified that a student is self-isolating, so if work is not set then please look at using the generic educational sites listed in the Virtual Learning section of the school website.
- There will come a period of time when the number of students off school is too great to set individual work.
For a limited period of time students will then be directed to carry out more generic subject-based work via the Virtual Learning section of the school website.
- There may well come a tipping point where the school cannot operate without moving to a hybrid model of remote and face-to-face learning.
- All students have a Chromebook and online learning is well embedded should there be a need to educate some year groups from home for a short period of time.
- We will look to protect the face-to-face teaching of Year 11 and Year 13 as this is a critical time in their educational journey, with mock exams starting at the end of this month.
- As with previous periods when the school had to move to online learning, we will ensure that key groups of students continue to have face-to-face education in school.
LFD testing and communications re. COVID
As per my letter dated 13th December, we will be testing Years 11, 10, 9, 8 and 7 tomorrow and the 6th form on Thursday morning. If you have not already done so, please follow this link https://forms.gle/T3y5WgURQW5BGK37A to a simple form IF:
- you haven’t previously denied consent for testing but would now like to do so (please note if you have previously denied consent then we have this on record and will assume your position is the same if we do not hear from you); or
- you previously denied consent but would now like to change this and consent to testing.
Please note that there has been a change in government guidance in that if you have had COVID in the last 90 days you should take part in LFD testing following your isolation period.
A key component of keeping COVID infection rates in school at a low level is for all young people to take an LFD test twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. This is a message that we have regularly promoted and we need your support in doing this. Any COVID-related issues should be emailed to COVID19@priory.herts.sch.uk, which is monitored by myself, Emma Sangster (Head’s PA) and Polly Higgs (Attendance). I have asked colleagues to ensure that if they receive any enquiries from parents about COVID they just direct them to the above address. The aim is to ensure the most consistent approach possible.
The rules on self-isolation have been updated. If a student tests positive they may be able to end their self-isolation period before the end of the 10 full days. They can now take an LFD test on day 6 and another LFD test the following day (at least 24 hours later). If both these test results are negative, and the student does not have a high temperature, they may end their self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to school from day 8.
NHS Test and Trace have the responsibility of contacting close contacts. People who are fully vaccinated or aged between 5 years and 18 years and 6 months, and identified as a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for 7 days and continue going to school normal, unless they have a positive test result or show symptoms. We will continue to send out and review the TPS Track & Trace document and where relevant notify parents of close contacts. In some instances, we will carry out daily testing for key groups of students or form groups if we identify any particular patterns.
Following on from my letter dated 13th December, the second dose for 12-15 year olds will not happen in school until at least mid-February and not January as I indicated.
Parents and carers of any students who are eligible for their 1st or 2nd dose can book online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119. There is also a wide range of walk-in options at both vaccination sites for adults and specific clinics for young people. Please check which sites are running clinics for young people on the following website before you book: https://covid.healthierfuture.org.uk/events/vaccination-walk-in-clinic-times.
Young people, parents and carers can find more information about COVID-19 vaccinations at: https://covid.healthierfuture.org.uk/vaccine-information-for-young-people.
The DfE have updated their guidance on face coverings and these now need to be worn by students in lessons. We already went down this route in the last week of term, and face coverings have been worn in communal areas since 3rd November. The DfE will review the guidance regarding face coverings by 26th January. The vast majority of students have responded well to wearing face coverings. We do have a limited supply of disposable masks, but the onus is on families to supply them. We will monitor who we give masks out to and if there is a pattern of ‘forgetfulness’ then we may sanction those students. If a family is facing particular challenges over sourcing masks due to cost, please contact the relevant Head of Year for support.
Below is a table that breaks down the requirements for wearing face coverings and how we are continuing to approach supporting extra-curricular activities.
|School reception||Ø All students, staff and visitors must wear a face covering|
|Corridors||Ø All students, staff and visitors must wear a face covering|
|Café||Ø Students in the Café (unless eating) and queuing to get into the Café need to wear a face covering|
|Assemblies||Ø Face coverings to be worn by all students and staff not leading the assembly|
|Outside the school buildings||Ø Face coverings do not need to be worn|
|Lessons||Ø Face coverings to be worn in classrooms with the exception of PE, Music and Drama (non-theory lessons)|
|Sporting fixtures||Ø Students need to show a negative LFD on the day of
a fixtureØ Students and staff will wear a face covering on any transport to/from the venue
|Play rehearsals||Ø Students need to show a negative LFD on the day of
|Extra-curricular music||Ø Students need to show a negative LFD on the day of
|Trips||Ø Students need to show a negative LFD on the day of
the tripØ Face coverings must we worn on the transport used by students and staffØ Face coverings must be worn at the venue
|Consortium lessons||Ø Face coverings to be worn|
|Consortium transport||Ø Face coverings to be worn by students and staff|
|Post 16 study area||Ø Face coverings to be worn by students and staff|
This half term will throw a number of challenges our way, but we will look to provide the best possible solutions to keep our students safe and engaged in their learning.
‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’ – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Take care and thank you for your continued support.