Dear Parents and Carers,

I am writing to you to inform you of further developments regarding our return to school next week. Following additional information received regarding the expectations in the first week, it has been necessary to revise the plans that were shared with you on 30th December.

I have had the opportunity to speak with other head teachers to share our thinking and explore possible options or what we need to do to keep our children and staff safe in school.

Currently as I write this letter, the remains a lot of uncertainty to what next week will look like. My main priority as always is to ensure that the environment is as safe as possible for all staff and pupils.

Mass Testing In Special Schools

As a school, we want to support the national mass testing programme. We believe this will help us to be as safe as possible and to remain open. However, there is a lot of new guidance for us to follow. To put this in to place, we will need time to do this properly.

We have not yet received the testing kits, guidance or training on implementing the programme. I believe the tests will arrive on Monday 4th January.

Therefore the information in italics below is a guide, I will write and update you when I have further guidance.

We aim to offer mass testing (2 swabs, taken 3 days apart) to all staff and pupil over the age of 11( Year 7 and above), who can administer the test themselves or with minimum levels of prompting and encouragement. We will also work with parents regarding pupils they want to be tested, but who cannot physically administer the test themselves, to agree a way forward.

No pupil will be forced to be tested and testing will not take place without parental consent. Should any parent not consent to their child accessing testing in school, this will not affect your child’s attendance in school.

The school will work hard ensuring that all procedures are in place to offer testing in school will be set up as soon as possible, but we need to be realistic that the logistics of this and ensuring the right training and staffing is in place will take some time. Therefore until testing is in place we will need to continue to follow the procedures in place during the autumn term.   If your child or any of your family (household) show any symptoms, then that child must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. Should we have any children/ staff who test positive in school, that child/ member of staff will need  isolate for 10 days as will ‘close contacts’

I will write separately to you about the testing procedures once we know more.

The government have now given the flexibility to the re-opening of secondary aged pupils in special schools to allow us to prepare for the implementation of Mass Testing. With this in mind and to ensure staff have time to access training, I have revised the return to school that was in my previous letter for Secondary aged pupils. Pupils will now not return to school until Wednesday 6th January at the earliest.

As an all through school, this does have added implications for us as we do have a number of staff who work across all phases. Therefore the timetable for both Primary and Secondary has been amended to enable the school to fully review all risk assessments and provide opportunity for staff to be tested across the school.

The guidelines that we have received now that we are Tier 4 area that both adults and pupils who are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (previously shielding) must not be in school, unless a doctor confirms that individuals are safe to be in school. If you have already provided confirmation, then no further confirmation needs to be given. These guidelines will be in place until 18th January, when they will be reviewed.

We also continue to have a number of staff over the break who have informed us that they are required to take time off to isolate either because they have symptoms or someone in their family may have tested positive. We also have a number of staff whose children have been sent home to isolate and therefore they are unable to attend school. This is in addition to normal   staff absence. Therefore for the first two weeks of term, a slightly amended timetable will need to be implemented.

The following groups will NOT BE IN school on the following days.

The above arrangements will remain under review and with the current situation, could very well change at very short notice.

Home learning activities are available via the school website which is www.st-ants.org then click on Learning Zone.

Should you require paper copies of any home learning activity, please contact your child’s teacher.

The Criteria for prioritising those pupils that fall within the critical worker category will be;

  • Both parents are critical workers or in a single household, the parent is a critical worker.

Should parents feel they fulfil the category above can they please contact the school on Monday to discuss.

You can find further information regarding Critical workers in the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

The Criteria for prioritising those pupils that fall within the particularly vulnerable category will be;  

  • Those pupils who have a Social Worker or other agency working with the family
  • Pupils who the school assess as being at greater risk by not being in school.

The school will risk assess pupils vulnerability and contact individuals to discuss their child’s attendance from Wednesday onwards in the first week.

Both of the above apply to the Secondary Department Only

A number of parents have expressed some concern with regards to their child returning to school. Safety remains an absolute priority, please contact your child’s teacher in the first instance regarding any concerns you may have.

I think the next few weeks will considerable challenges in all aspects of our daily life both for our families and staff. It is important as a school community we continue to work together and as always your support is very much appreciated.

Best wishes

Helen Ball

Headteacher

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