Dear Parent / Carer
This has definitely been a week of challenges for the school. Firstly, I would like to say thank you to those parents who have taken time to write in expressing their thanks and support for what the school is currently doing during this unique time. We have had gifts from parents to share with staff and last Friday all staff were given a Japanese bento box for lunch courtesy of Kazoku; excellent food and a huge thank you.
Our new virtual parents’ evening format spread over a couple of evenings and mornings has worked well. We will reflect on what needs to be tweaked, but this format will be used for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday we had a virtual Ofsted visit where the HMI discussed with colleagues how the school has coped with providing learning since the lockdown in March. This virtual visit was about gathering information for a wider Ofsted report and gave the school the chance to reflect on all the excellent work that has been done.
Since my last letter to parents sent on 11th November we have had additional COVID cases reported and have been working through our track and trace protocols. Notifications come in at all hours to our COVID@priory.herts.sch.uk address. Simple cases of track and trace take a couple of hours to sort through but more complex cases will take all day. The number of people involved and combined hours of work is massive and this will have an impact on our daily roles and responsibilities. I did smile when one parent accused the school of only sending out information at the end of the day on a Friday as the school would then be closed; not sure if I have the capacity to be that Machiavellian but this letter is going out at the end of the day!
All my communication with parents and relevant COVID documents are on the school website under the COVID tab. The communication from the school has been comprehensive so if you are unsure of anything please have a look at my previous letters.
Wednesday 11th November
One positive case in Year 13 and 9 students identified as close contacts and self-isolating.
Thursday 12th November
One positive case in Year 9 and 26 students identified as close contacts and self-isolating.
One positive case in Year 12 and 23 students identified as close contacts and self-isolating.
No staff were asked to self-isolate.
Friday 13th November
One positive case in Year 10 and 43 students identified as close contacts and self-isolating. From this positive case we have 2 members of staff self-isolating.
One positive case in Year 13 and 5 students identified as close contacts and self-isolating.
When we ask a student to self-isolate this is based on the Government and Public Health guidance and the self-isolation period is clearly communicated in the letters that parents receive from the school. A few parents have arranged for their children to have a COVID test in an attempt to get them back in to school. However, if their test is negative they must still continue to self-isolate for the 14-day period. What becomes frustrating is when I am on after-school duty outside the school and having to challenge students who should be self-isolating; this is not the way to help reduce community transmission.
Circuit break for Post 16 students
The school and 6th Form have worked hard to try and mitigate COVID infection within the student body. On reviewing our track and trace documents and looking for any clear transmission patterns there is no one reason why we have had a spike this week. As with a number of schools in Hertfordshire, there has been a spike in infections, partly due to social interaction over half term and possibly due to ‘pre-lockdown meet ups’ with others before
5th November. Remember that Hertfordshire was in Tier 1 prior to the national lockdown. As the infection period works in a 14-day cycle, today Friday 13th is potentially the end of a full cycle if someone became infected at the start of the half term break. I am going to introduce a short ‘circuit break’ for the 6th Form, which will give an opportunity for any other possible COVID positive cases to be flushed out. A more detailed letter has been sent to 6th Form students and their parents. The ‘circuit break’ will run from Monday 16th to Monday 23rd November. This will give students a 10-day window under national lockdown restrictions to limit their close contacts and therefore any possible transmission. Their first day back in school will be Tuesday 24th November.
As we enter the second week of the national lockdown I hope that there will be a decline in community transmission.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.