Apologies for writing to you yet again … and so soon after my last letter on December 18th. However, as you are probably aware guidance to schools has changed in the last couple of days. As a result, we have had to alter our plans for the start of term.
Monday January 4th remains a staff INSET Day. From Tuesday 5th January to Friday 8th January the school is only open (8:30am to 2:50pm) to vulnerable children and children of key workers. All other students will be provided with full-time remote education. For years 7 to 10 this follows the timetable that I sent to you on December 18th (a copy of which can be found under Latest News on the school website). Year 11 students are to log onto Teams for live lessons that will follow their normal school timetable.
On Monday January 11th Year 11 students will return to school. Years 7-10 will remain at home and will continue with remote learning until Friday 15th January (a timetable for this second week of remote learning will be sent out next week).
The week commencing Monday January 18th is when all students are to be back in school.
*Please note that the school can support students who do not have a laptop or PC at home. Please contact Ruth Astley via email RAstley@patchamhigh.org.uk
Testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is beginning in all secondary school across the country using new, quicker COVID-19 tests known as ‘lateral flow tests’. Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests will help staff and students to remain in school safely. 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.
What if a student tests positive? Participating staff and pupils 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). The school will be able to provide these PCR test kits to perform at home or you can go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119 to book a follow-up test. If ordering a PCR test yourselves, they should choose to visit a drive-through test site if possible, as it is faster than requesting a home test. During this time while they wait for the PCR result (via text / email) they will need to self-isolate. 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, so if you do not hear you can assume it was negative. A small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void.
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. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside of school who will still need to self-isolate. 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.
We will be testing all staff and students who want to participate from January 5th. I have enclosed an instructional leaflet with some more information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.