Dear parents and carers,
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and extend my best wishes for 2022.
As with previous communications earlier this academic year, I need to start by updating you on arrangements regarding our management of COVID-19. Together with our partners in the Cabot Learning Federation, we continue to remain in line with guidance issued by our local Directors of Public Health and Government guidelines.
The Covid protocols that have been in place for all Cabot Learning Federation secondary academies since October 2021 will remain in place as we return in January. This means that the following measures remain key features of school life:
What we are doing in our academies
- All examinations and assessments in January will go ahead as originally planned.
- In line with the latest Government guidance (2 January 2022), all staff, parents/carers, visitors and pupils should wear a face covering in communal areas and in classrooms.
- We will be supporting a safe return of all pupils at the start of the new term in line with the latest Government guidance. This will involve Asymptomatic Testing (using lateral flow testing kits) for all pupils on their return, as pupils experienced when they returned to school in September. The Government asked that secondary school students undertake one on-site test on return in January. The purpose of this test is to help boost testing participation and reduce transmission after a period of social mixing during the holidays. Students will then be strongly encouraged to continue testing twice weekly at home and to report all results to NHS Test and Trace and to school.
- We will not be holding large gatherings in any Cabot Learning Federation academy with mixed age groups. Any plans to hold small gatherings will be checked on a case-by-case basis with Public Health England to ensure our controls are appropriate.
- We will continue to enhance our cleaning routines.
- We will keep spaces well ventilated; this may occasionally mean that your child will be invited to wear their coat indoors.
- There are currently no plans to involve schools in any further roll-out of a vaccination programme for students of secondary school age. However, on 22 December the government accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) In response to the threat from the Omicron variant, the JCVI advised that a Pfizer booster vaccine should be offered to:
- children aged 12 to 15 years old who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of immunosuppressed individuals, and those who are severely immunosuppressed and have had a third primary dose
- all young people aged 16 to 17 years old
The NHS will communicate how eligible children can get their boosters shortly.
What we need our families to do
- Your child should continue to come to school with a face covering, which they should expect to wear throughout the day in communal areas and in classrooms. With the exception of those who are exempt from wearing a face covering for health reasons, students who do not bring a face covering to school will either have the option to purchase one on site, or they will be requested to return home to collect one. It would be sensible to ensure that your child has spares in their coat and blazer pockets and in their bag. If you are unable to access a face covering for your child and are worried about the cost of purchase, please do contact the school directly so that we can support.
While the wearing of face coverings has become commonplace in society again over recent weeks (e.g. in shops, on public transport, etc.), we are also aware that pupils will not have been wearing face coverings every day at home. While we will be reinforcing this expectation on pupils’ return, please do support us by reiterating with your child(ren) the importance of wearing face-coverings in school.
- Students should continue to take lateral flow tests at home twice weekly for the coming weeks.
- Please ensure that your child stays at home if they are unwell with Covid symptoms. They must continue to stay at home until 48 hours after the fever passes. They should do so even if they have tested negative for Covid 19.
- If someone in your household tests positive (but your child does not have symptoms including a fever), your child may still come to school until their own PCR test result comes through if they take a lateral flow test each day and continue to receive a negative result (and remain symptom free).
- Since Wednesday 22 December, 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 it is not possible to take a test for any reason. Individuals may now take LFD 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. 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 school from day 8. The UK Health Security Agency has published this helpful flow diagram, clarifying this process, which I have included at the end of this letter.
Thank you for your considerable support throughout this period, and for your flexibility in continuing to work with these new, revised arrangements.
Cabot Learning Federation will continue to keep all of our parents and carers updated with any changes to our Covid controls as we are asked to make them in the interests of public health.