News 31st December 2020
Update: Return to School & Testing
31st December 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
Following my letter at the start of the Christmas holidays, I write to update you about the new ‘lateral flow testing’ process we are setting up for the January return. Whilst given this mammoth challenge at the last minute, we are determined to ensure the success of this system because we are resolute in keeping our school as safe as possible.
I also want to update you on the alterations announced yesterday about changes in the national guidance with regard to students returning to school. This staggered return is designed to allow secondary schools time to plan for the implementation of Rapid Testing in schools, for both students and staff.
I apologise in advance for the length of this letter. There is a lot of information to convey at this time.
Update on NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 testing for students
Mass testing is being rolled out across secondary schools and has already been set up in some particularly badly affected communities. This is a particularly effective way to identify individuals who are asymptomatic but positive for COVID-19. Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests will help staff and students to remain in school safely. Up to one third of people who have coronavirus experience no symptoms. By testing we will help to stop the virus spread and help to keep our school open as safely as possible. The test is voluntary, but I would encourage everyone to take it. I would also remind you that where your child has symptoms of Covid-19, they should not attend school and instead, be tested at a PCR testing site and isolate for 10 days if the test is positive.
We will be testing all staff and secondary school students who want to participate from week commencing 4th January 2021. I enclose an instructional leaflet with some more detailed information about the test itself. Students will need to be tested twice, no sooner than 3 days after their first test.
Further information about how these tests are conducted and the arrangements and timings will follow. There are also some FAQs at the end of this letter. To be able to carry out these tests, we need consent from parents for any student below the age of 16. You will appreciate that there is a great deal for the school to organise and we are awaiting further guidance from the government. We can only apologise for the short notice and the dates could be subject to further amendments depending on government policy.
If you are happy for your child to be tested, please fill in the consent and registration form online https://bit.ly/3hwFX9F . Please note that you will need to complete one for each of your children attending our school. Should you have an issue completing this online, please email the office via email@example.com .
Those taking the test will be supervised by trained staff. The ‘lateral flow’ tests are quick and easy, taking a swab of your nose and throat. For under 18s, staff can oversee the swab process and offer verbal support. Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared directly with staff and students (if in school) participating. Where participants are under 16, parents or legal guardians will also be informed where the result is positive.
From the information the government has provided, we understand these tests work – in validation studies conducted by Oxford University and Public Health England, they were shown to be as accurate in identifying a case as a PCR test (99.68% specificity).
Update on School Reopening
In light of the alterations announced by government yesterday, I can confirm that the start of the new term will now be as follows:
Monday 4 January:
Staff INSET training day – no students in school
School will be preparing for delivery of asymptomatic testing process
Tuesday 5 January:
Only children of critical workers* and vulnerable children onsite, in school
Years 11 remote online learning
As far as possible during the testing set up, Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 to receive remote online learning
From Monday 11 January:
Children of critical workers* and vulnerable children in school
Planning for Y11 to return to school for face-to-face teaching
Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 to receive remote online learning
From Monday 18 January:
Planning for all year groups to return to school
Definition of critical workers*
The government has updated its guidance about which groups of people who are considered to be critical (key) workers. Please see the guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision .
If either parent or carer falls into one of these categories, and you need your child to attend school from 5th January, please complete the Key Worker section of the online form (use link https://bit.ly/3hwFX9F
as above – part of the same online form for consent and only needs completing once for each child) as soon as possible and no later than midday on Monday 4 January. Your child will not be able to attend school unless they have been booked in via this booking system and their place confirmed by our team.
In short, let me remind you that the return to school will be staggered. Monday 4th January will be taken as an INSET day for all students; consequently, the school will be closed to students on this day. This will ensure we have time to train appropriately and set up the logistics in school for the mass testing programme.
I remind you that from Tuesday 5th January, we will welcome children of key workers and vulnerable students. No other year groups will be able to attend our site until Monday 11th January, when Year 11 will be able to return for face-to-face education. Where we invite students for tests during these weeks, they will only need to access the Sports Hall. The aim is that all students will be welcomed back to school from 18th January. From 5th January, some online learning will be provided for our students across Years 7 – 10. Year 11 will receive live lessons during this week.
We will continue to update you with information as it emerges – this is a rapidly developing situation and there may well be further changes and updates in the coming days as we respond to national decisions. Thank you in advance for your understanding of this complex situation and the need for patience at this time.
Mrs Jen Jacklin
> Return to school and testing 31.12.20(1)
FAQs about Lateral Flow Device testing
What if a student tests positive?
Participating staff and students who test positive will be informed about their results individually. Where participants are under 16, parents or legal guardians will also be notified. Guidance on safe travel and additional precautions will be provided along with test results.
Students will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ (similar to those done in local and regional testing sites) on the same day (or as soon as possible). You will need to access www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119 to book this follow-up test. When ordering the PCR test, you should choose to visit a drive-through test site if possible, as it is faster than requesting a home test. During this time, whilst waiting for the PCR result (via text / email) your child will need to self-isolate. Where it is not possible to access a test, School may be able to provide a PCR test kit to perform at home.
If the PCR test returns a positive result you will have to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.
What happens if the test is negative?
They will be able to stay in school and resume their activities as normal. A student will only be told if they test positive on a ‘lateral flow’ test; if you do not hear you can assume it was a negative result. A small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void for some reason.
What if a close contact at school tests positive?
A close contact of someone in school who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to school if they agree to be tested once a day for 7 days and the test is negative. If they do not want to take the test, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. Household members or close contacts outside of school will still need to self-isolate as they are not accessing the daily lateral flow device testing. Further details will be provided at the time, but if you would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, you can.
What if my child develops symptoms?
This testing programme at school is for people with no symptoms. If your child develops symptoms at any time (such as a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland) or visiting https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. You must notify school as soon as possible using the C19@kingarthurs.org.uk email address. A member of our team will then be in touch as soon as possible.
We will support our staff and students throughout, but please contact us if you need this information in any other format, or if you have any questions. You can request this through the office on 01963 32368 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .