Dear Parents/ Carers,
Happy New Year. I hope you have all had a fun, restful and recharging festive break and that you are all looking forward to 2022 and hopefully a much more positive year.
Over the course of the holidays there has been significant discussion about the new Omicron variant, its impact on public services due to staff availability and the very high numbers of Covid cases.
Just to remind you of the arrangements outlined in my letter dated 16th December.
Tuesday 4th January 2022: college closed for teaching and learning but OPEN for LF testing for students.
9am Koa and Animus
10am Sixth Form and Animus
11am Year 7
12 noon Year 8
1pm Year 9
2pm Year 10 and 11
The DfE wants all students to have an on site LFT before they return to college. It is your choice to participate in the testing programme on site and if you have not completed a permission form these will be available tomorrow to be completed.
Staff will be outside college to welcome you and direct you to The Space or Rosie to take the tests.
If you do not attend for testing but you complete a LFT at home it is really important this is logged on the NHS website. This is available at this link: Report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
I am seeking to avoid the challenges of students returning on transport and into class and then spreading this much more transmissible variant. I strongly encourage you that all students should participate in this and if a student cannot tolerate the testing that everyone else in the family undertakes LFT.
Availability of tests:
If you have struggled to get access to further LFT over the festive period, these will be available from the testing centre to collect tomorrow. These tests are allocated to the college and it is important that people using them register the test results. When we have low supplies as shown on the number of tests recorded we can order more. If people do not record the results we may struggle to access more of them in a timely way.
You will be able to collect test sets even if you have not registered your young person for testing (but our availability is limited and is based on the number of people registered for testing).
The DfE has published guidance recommending that students, who can, wear masks all of the time in communal areas and classrooms. If your young person can tolerate this please send them in with masks for this.
Staff will wear masks in communal areas and where appropriate in class and when carrying out manual handling/ care tasks.
All 12-15 year olds can book a second vaccination and those older can book their booster. There will be an on site vaccination for send jabs in early/ mid January if consent has already been given.
Family consultation evenings:
These will remain as on line events and further details will come out shortly.
Off site events:
These will continue to be to outdoor spaces only or specific leisure facilities where we can distance.
Provision at other colleges will continue and we will aim to undertake all relevant transition visits for year 11 and 14 students.
Please remember if you have a high temperature, change to taste/ smell or a new persistent cough then you should still self isolate immediately and book a PCR test. LFT tests are for asymptomatic testing only. A negative LFT result with symptoms does not mean you are safe to come into college.
I also advise if you or your young person suddenly feels tired or has a sore throat then you should also get a PCR test.
Changes to guidance in relation to isolation:
The guidance is now more complicated:
Since Wednesday 22 December 2021, the 10 day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.
Individuals may now take LFT tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. This also applies to children under 5, with LFD testing at parental or guardian discretion. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education setting from day 8.
Close contacts of positive cases:
You will no longer be asked to take two PCR tests but follow this new guidance;
Daily testing for close contacts of COVID-19:
People who are fully vaccinated, or children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.
If you change your email address or mobile phone number please let the college know immediately. This is vital in case we need to contact you. It is also important that families check their emails at least once a day. This is the primary way we will contact you about information regarding groups of students.
As you will have seen in the media the government has asked specific departments to plan for high levels of staff absence. No guidance on this has been received by schools other than a reminder from the Secretary of State for Education that we close classes as an absolute last resort and for as short a time as possible and provide alternative learning options. In my view the lack of guidance on this is due to the fact we have been doing this for the last 22 months! We will only close classes where we do not have the appropriate trained staff to operate safely.
Potentially there are going to be real challenges in balancing the need for young people to be in college, minimising risk (remembering we have some very medically vulnerable children) and maximising safety. It is perfectly possible we will need to make different, difficult, decisions for different classes (especially in different family groups) due to the different contexts of each class. Sometimes these decisions are made at the last minute (especially in cases were people test asymptomatically positive).
I promise you that every decision and action is taken with the best interests of the community as a whole and our commitment to delivering the best service and the highest quality education is undiminished. I also understand that this whole, on going, situation is frustrating!
Opportunity to ask questions:
If any family members wish to ask questions about any of this members of the senior leadership team will be available to take telephone calls from 10 30 til 11 30 am tomorrow. If you phone at other times we will come back to you as soon as possible.
All of the team look forward to working with you in 2022 to ensure we provide the very best in education, care and development for all young people where “Everyone matters and every day counts”.
Your continued support and cooperation is much appreciated.