Covid-safety at school and preparing for possible cases within our school community

I am delighted to be able to share with you how impressively our school community has responded to full school reopening throughout September! We have been really pleased by how well our students have worked with staff over the past month; they arrive safely in their allocated time slots in the morning, are managing themselves well in their year group villages at breaktimes and during transition times. Learning in lessons is calm, purposeful, and productive and there is an atmosphere of kindness and mutual respect throughout the school. Attendance is high, so our school is once again a busy but happy, harmonious place of learning! I am very proud of how hard everyone is working to keep one another safe and feeling well cared for, so they are enjoying being able to learn together again in school.

The Student Villages

We are fortunate that we have not yet had any members of our school community who have received a positive test result for Covid-19, despite the rise in cases being reported locally in Portsmouth.

However, a few local schools have had Covid cases and we are learning from their experiences. When a confirmed Covid case occurs within our school community, we will always aim to keep your child in school if that is the safest course of action, but it is important that you prepare for the chance that your child may be sent home from school at short notice (possibly during the school day) and be required to self-isolate for up to 14 days, if they have been a close contact of a confirmed Covid case within our school community.

In the event that we are not satisfied that we can adequately identify all the close contacts of a child with a confirmed case of Covid, then we anticipate that Public Health England will advise us to require the whole year group bubble to self-isolate. However, each situation will be considered individually, and we will take decisions based upon the guidance given by our Public Health advisors.

The Government’s Test and Trace poster

When tracing close contacts in school, we will be required to identify any people who have been within 2 metres of the confirmed Covid case for a sustained period of at least 15 minutes.

Therefore, when a student tests positive for Covid, we anticipate being asked to identify close contacts within school by looking at seating plans for lessons in classrooms, by considering activity within PE lessons, by talking to the parents of the student who has a positive Covid test result to identify close contacts on the way to and from school and who they spend breaktimes with. Where we cannot be confident that social distancing (more than 2 metres) has been adhered to (for example at breaktimes) this may mean that we could be advised to treat the whole year group bubble as close contacts and ask everyone to self-isolate.

Please would you discuss with your children that if they are told to self-isolate then they should not leave their home at all and they should not have any visitors to the family home. It is important that you can ensure that your child complies with these requirements for the safety of our local community. We will ensure that distance learning is available for your child during any period of self-isolation, using the work set in Google Classroom for each of their usual timetabled lessons.

Self-isolation presents considerable challenges to families, so can I ask you to also talk to your children about the importance of maintaining a 2 metre distance from other people whenever possible and especially with their peers during their social times.

Thank you for your continued support in these challenging times, it is greatly appreciated!

Nys Hardingham