Dear Parent / Carer
Over the weekend and the last 24 hours we have had additional COVID cases reported to the school. We have had three cases reported in Year 11 and one in Year 10. As a result of these cases we have additional staff self-isolating and we will need to make some operational changes.
- The Wellbeing base will be closed and all appointments will be online with both in-house and external counsellors. This was a model we used during the initial full lockdown, so all parties are well versed in what needs to be done.
- The Pastoral base has a skeleton staff at school at the moment so our ability to react to parental communications will be reduced. Those members of the Pastoral team who are self-isolating will as far as possible be working from home.
- We are currently able to cover teaching staff who are self-isolating, but there will be some disruption to learning. Those teachers self-isolating are still delivering lessons online to their classes, with another member of staff in the actual lesson supervising the students.
On the school website under the COVID tab you will find all the communication you have had from the school since the start of September. My letter dated 11th September explains how we ‘Track & Trace’ and the template we use gives you a clear indication about how we structure this approach and establish the potential number of ‘close contacts’ a young person may have. For information on home learning please see my letter dated 24th September.
Yesterday afternoon after completing the last round of contact tracing we were left in a situation where we had 141 Year 11 students self-isolating out of 190 in the year group. Year 11 will now all be working from home until Monday 30th November, following their full timetable and being taught lessons online. This move to online lessons will ensure that there is parity of provision across the year group, and all Year 11 students have Chromebooks.
Free School Meals
With an increased amount of students having to self-isolate or work from home, the school will be providing those who have free school meals with a £15 supermarket voucher to cover meal costs each week. We will be sending these vouchers out and Mr Foster (School Business Manager) will be the point of contact for any issues in this respect (Tony.Foster@priory.herts.sch.uk).
I have received a few emails relating to siblings and whether they should also self-isolate for 14 days when we have sent home a brother or sister who has been in ‘close contact’ with a positive case. The guidance is clear that other members of your household do not need to self-isolate provided the child sent home does not develop symptoms within the 14-day self-isolation period.
It is paramount to stopping the spread of COVID that students who have been identified as ‘close contacts’ self-isolate. The letter the family of each ‘close contact’ receives makes it very clear what self-isolating entails. Information gathered by Hertfordshire County Council paints a poor picture of the number of people who actually self-isolate when they are asked to:
‘We’re sharing this information on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council and the Local Resilience Forum who support the countywide response to coronavirus. Did you know that only 20% of people in Hertfordshire self-isolate when they are asked to by a nursery, school, college, workplace, Test and Trace or a health professional? 1 in 4 of us admitted that we’d still pop to the shops even if we had been asked to self-isolate. We know it’s not easy and self-isolation can have a real impact on our lives, however if we’re asked to do it, it’s one of the most important things we can do to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
We’ve pulled together a guide which we hope simplifies some of the rules around self-isolation, the reason for the number of days you might be asked to self-isolate for (including as part of a school bubble), how to recognise symptoms of coronavirus and when to book a test. www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/selfisolatingguide‘
With the national lockdown entering the second week I am hoping that we will see a decline in the number of cases that the school has to deal with. I am well informed about all school-based cases in Hertfordshire as I am the secondary school headteacher who sits on both the daily IMT (Incident Management Team) meetings and the Outbreak Plan Steering Group. I work closely with colleagues from Public Health, the NHS and Hertfordshire County Council and have been well positioned to review what we are doing at The Priory School. We have currently hit a ‘hot spot’ of cases, but this has been no different from a number of areas in Hertfordshire in the last few weeks. The issue is how we deal with this as a school moving forward.
Thank you for your continued support and the many positive emails that have been sent in to my colleagues and I.