Update from Mr Wilding - 26th February
Posted 26th February 2021
Mr Wilding has sent out an update to parents/carers.
To all parents and carers.
Good evening from LCS.
Thank you for bearing with us over the last few days, since the announcement was made that all students will return to school from Monday 8th March. This return to school is not as straight-forward as previous returns from school closure, as on this occasion students consenting for a Covid-19 test in school must receive their first negative test result before they can begin to attend lessons. This inevitably means a staggered start for students returning. Students should then receive a further 2 tests, preferably within 3-5 days of each other, in the first 2 weeks of their return to face-to-face lessons.
Since the new guidance was issued on Monday there has already been a change to the dates when schools could start testing and we cannot, therefore, rule out any further changes to our plans. We are hoping, however, that the plans I am outlining today will not need to be changed further next week.
To allow for the first Covid-19 tests to be carried out on students returning to school, we are limited to which Year Groups we can allow back each day and the guidance stipulates that schools should prioritise students in Year 10 upwards to return first. We also cannot allow all students in a Year Group to return together, before students consenting to a Covid-19 test have all received their first negative result. If we did this, students testing positive would need to be sent home immediately to self-isolate for 10 days, as would any close contacts from their first day in school. I am sure as parents and carers you would rather this did not happen and that students were not sent home on their first day back at school, after working at home since January.
We have, therefore, decided to test all consenting students the day before their Year Group returns to school. Students consenting to the Covid-19 test will arrive in school on their allocated testing day and will return home after their test has been completed; students will not have any face-to face lessons on their testing day and Remote Learning will continue. Parents/carers will be informed of their child's test results, usually within 1 hour of the test taking place, and students testing negative can then return to school for face-to-face lessons the next day. This way we know that students consenting to the test will be returning to school having received a negative test result 24 hours beforehand. Students where consent for the Covid-19 test has not been obtained will return at the same time as those students who have been tested and received a negative result the previous day. Any student(s) testing positive from their first test will be required to self-isolate as per NHS guidance and will not return to school until this self-isolation period is complete.
Exact timings for students Covid-19 tests are still to be finalised and I would once again urge those parents/carers who plan to consent but have not yet done so to return the Consent Form by my requested deadline of Wednesday 3rd March. Large numbers of Consent Forms returned later than this date may delay the return of students to school.
Students will likely be invited to school to test in alphabetical order groups and I will confirm timings as soon as possible next week, but the plan for student testing and return to lessons is as follows:
- Year 11 and Year 13 - Test in school on Monday 8th March and return to lessons on Tuesday 9th March.
- Year 10 and Year 12 - Test in school on Tuesday 9th March and return to lessons on Wednesday 10th March.
- Year 9 - Test in school on Wednesday 10th March and return to lessons on Thursday 11th March.
- Year 8 - Test in school on Thursday 11th March and return to lessons on Friday 12th March.
- Year 7 - Test in school on Friday 12th March and return to school on Monday 15th March.
I am aware that some parents and carers may be disappointed with this plan, as they would have hoped and expected their child(ren) to return to school sooner. With the guidelines as they are, however, and the number of students we will need to test, there is no way we can see of moving the process forward. Starting testing before Monday 8th March, which schools were initially told they couldn't do before the guidelines were changed, would leave too long between a test being taken and the student(s) returning to lessons, making the test result less valid. As our plans stand, all students consenting to the test would return to school within 24 hours of a negative result, apart from Year 7 who will not return until after the weekend; unfortunately, we have 7 Year Groups to process and only 5 days to do this in.
Students currently attending school as part of the vulnerable/Critical Worker groups will continue to do so until their respective Year Groups return to face-to-face lessons; these students will also test on the same day as their Year Group.
Testing will take place in our Testing facility which is housed in the Dance Studio building in our Sports Centre. Students will enter and exit site via the Fresco Drive entrance, which is accessed from the footpath adjacent to 'The Brook' or by the access path from Fresco Drive. Parents will not be able to drive onto premises and will be asked to park on Fresco Drive or Pastures Hill, to allow students to walk onto site for their test. We will be sending some instructional videos to students next week to help and instruct them on the testing process.
Students will be able to use the School Bus when returning with their Year Group for face-to-face lessons, but not when coming onto site for their first Covid-19 test.
The testing being carried out in school is for asymptomatic students and staff, so if your child is displaying any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 they must not come into school for their test or for face-to-face lessons.
Once all students have returned to school, the 2nd and 3rd Covid-19 tests we are required to provide for them will take place during the school day; again, times and dates to be confirmed. We will do what we can to keep to the recommended gap of 3-5 days between tests, but if this is not possible we will look to test students at least once each week (5 school days but 7 calendar days).
Once students have completed 3 Covid-19 tests in school, they will be issued with Home Testing kits to be completed under the supervision of the parent or carer and results submitted to school. I will provide further details of this process nearer the time.
As previously stated, our Remote Learning plans will continue until all students return to school on 15th March. When face-to-face lessons re-start, teaching staff will be teaching students in school, as well as teaching remotely. This will mean some changes of timings for lessons, although we are aiming to keep to our current timetables as much as possible.
I will update you all further next week with confirmed times for student Covid-19 testing and other information ahead of their return to school, but please also note the following:
- There will be Assemblies for students in all Year Groups on Friday 5th March. Students will be notified of the times for these Assemblies next week.
- Students will be required to wear face coverings in lessons on their return to school, as per latest government guidance. Existing exemptions remain and students must have their Exemption Card to show staff if challenged. If a student's medical situation has changed since last term and they now require an exemption, the parent or carer concerned should contact Mrs C Barrows (Medical Officer) before the student returns to school.
- All students will be required to wear full school uniform on their return to face-to-face lessons. Uniform is not required to be worn by students coming into school for their first Covid-19 test.
Finally, I would once again like to thank all parents and carers and members of our wider school community for their support during this latest school closure. In particular, I would once again like to thank those parents, carers, Governors and members of the public who have volunteered in our Testing Centre. We will need all of our testing volunteers over the next few weeks and any additional help would always be welcome, so please email me directly if you have any time you feel you can offer to support us in our Testing facility.
Please look out for further updates throughout next week. Enjoy your weekend.