Dear parents and carers,
Please read this whole letter carefully, including the changes to positive cases and self-isolation for children and adults at the end!
As we approach September, with a sense of uncertainty around covid case rates, we wanted to share with you what we will be putting in place to keep children and adults safe at St Mark’s. The government has made it quite clear that we will need to adapt to a more normal way of schooling; we are taking a cautious approach in moving out of our current restrictions.
The guidance below outlines what school will look like in September. We won’t be making any changes in July. We will adapt to any change in guidance over the summer and beyond though. Further, as the Autumn Term progresses, we may adapt our relax or restrict our processes as the situation becomes clear.
We’ll be putting the following guidelines in place for September 2021. Please remember that there may be additional changes as new guidelines are released or clarified by the DfE.
- YEAR GROUPS! As shared earlier, we’ll operate more strongly as year groups. This is really around the organisation of school activities and logistics. The government has decided that classes/year groups won’t be closed if a positive case is identified. However, grouping our school in this way is a safe next step. For example, we won’t be having Key Stage or Whole School worship/assemblies just yet, but we will have year group worship.
- Breakfast club will run as normal, although children will be sat in year group tables. There will be no need to pre-book or be allocated a place – children can simply show up. We will take a register each day though.
- We will be using a simplified home reading log, to ensure that children are reading at home.
- Your child won’t need to bring a backpack or book bag. As before, we will provide a book bag on their first day. We will be looking into a more durable option in due course. However, minimising ‘baggage’ in the classroom helps out by reducing cleaning and clutter and surfaces to wipe. Year 6 can bring small bags/back-packs however, due to the need to carry sanitary items discreetly.
- When on the school site, we are asking adults to continue to wear masks unless exempt, and staff to wear masks when outside of their normal areas.
- Children will wear normal school uniform, except on their PE days when they wear PE kit to school.
- Staggered start to the day: this will be from 8:30-8:40am for those with surnames A-L, and 8:40am to 8:50am for those with surnames M-Z. We would ask you to respect these times, but let us know if the earlier/later time slot is necessary. The gates will close at 8:50am.
- Staggered end to the day: 3:10-3:15pm for those with surnames A-L, and 3:15pm-3:20pm for those with surnames M-Z. Map of classrooms and drop off/collection locations, and times is attached!
- For coming onto the site and leaving the site, we will retain the one-way system as it has been this year. See the map at the end of the page!
- Break times and lunch times will continue to be staggered to ease congestion and to give some separation between year groups.
- Children will have their own pencil case, which we will provide. Again, please don’t send one in.
- All they need to bring in is their lunch (unless school dinners), water bottle, book bag (we provide!) and coat.
- We’ll be cashless and paperless as much as possible. Please make sure you can use SCOPay/Tucasi (the online payment system).
- We are minimising the movement of staff around the school where possible.
- PE kit will be worn to school on days that the children have PE. This way we don’t have to change at school – another hazard. We’ll let you know the days for PE.
- School books can be brought to and from school; there won’t be a quarantine process in place.
- As things stand – for hot meals: we’ll offer two hot options each day, plus the jacket potatoes. Lunch will be eaten in the classroom to avoid large gatherings. This may change.
- Parents need to contact the school using phone and email, and not come into the school unless in emergencies.
- Homework and spellings will be on Google Classrooms.
- Toilet arrangements for KS2 will remain as they are this year (creating well ventilated toilets!).
- Music lessons will be as normal; note that they may not be organised strictly around children in the same year group.
- PE will be allowed in the main hall.
- Afterschool clubs will be allowed, but will need to be grouped around year groups. For now, activities that ran across year groups (e.g. choir, orchestra) will be postponed or run differently. More details to follow.
- School trips can happen.
- Singing can take place in year groups, but taking into account ventilation requirements.
- Staff will only wear PPE when in close contact with a child who has symptoms, where appropriate.
What general measures are we putting in place?
- Frequent and enhanced cleaning regimes.
- Keeping windows open whenever possible.
- Frequent hand washing.
- Good communication and training with parents, children, staff and governors.
- Engaging with government guidance, including test and trace, and wearing PPE where appropriate.
- Where appropriate, the use of face masks/coverings will support children, staff and users of the site to keep safe.
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Children and Adults
Children and adults who fall into this category must continue to attend school, unless explicitly told not to do so by their GP. If the GP says not to attend, the school will require proof of this.
What about the covid email address?
Please continue to inform us of symptoms and test results via firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarification around Self-isolation, close contacts and positive cases from 16th August 2021
CHILDREN AS CLOSE CONTACTS
Children who are close contacts under the age of 18 years will no longer be required to self-isolate. They (as close contacts) will be advised by the NHS Test and Trace Service that they are a close contact of a positive case, and encouraged to get a PCR test, but can still come to school. If they refuse to get a PCR test, they can still come to school (unless they develop symptoms). If a test has been taken, they can be at school until the receive a positive result, at which point they must self-isolate.
CHILDREN WHO TEST POSITIVE
If any child tests positive using a LFD or PCR test, they still have to isolate. It just doesn’t close a bubble, and close-contacts under 18 years of age don’t need to isolate.
CHILDREN WHO SHOW SYMPTOMS
If a child shows symptoms at school, however mild, then parents will be contacted and the child will still be sent home. A PCR test must then be taken, and they must isolate until the result is known. Schools can refuse entry to a child who is showing symptoms if a parent insists on the child attending.
Those over 18 years of age who are double vaccinated do not have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive case. Again, they will be advised to get a PCR test. If they are not double-vaccinated, then they do need to self-isolate if they are considered a close contact by NHS Test and Trace. For anyone who tests positive over the age of 18, they have to isolate, irrespective of vaccination status.
LFD vs PCR Tests
Anyone (child or adult) with a positive LFD or PCR test must self-isolate. With a positive LFD test, a PCR test must then be taken. While awaiting the result, the individual should self-isolate. If the PCR is taken within 2 days of the positive LFD and comes back negative, it overrides the LFD test. If the PCR is taken after 2 days of the positive LFD, the self-isolation period must continue.
School will not be involved in contact tracing. NHS Test and Trace will manage this side of it. However, if there are multiple positive cases in the school or the local area, the school will work with PHE to make decisions about possible closure. We will have an Outbreak Management Plan in place as required. Our understanding is that this is for a significant number of cases, as opposed to just a few.