Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at the start of this week, I am pleased to be writing to you today to inform you of our plans to return to on-site learning starting from Tuesday 9th March 2021.
Government guidelines require that secondary schools have an Asymptomatic Testing Centre (ATC) on site to provide Lateral Flow Tests to every child before they return to on-site lessons. After that first test, schools are required to administer two further tests on-site (three to five days apart). Having gained expertise in self-administering lateral flow tests under the supervision of trained staff in the ATC, students will then be given home testing kits to use twice a week. The purpose of this testing is to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid in the school population, so that those affected individuals and their close contacts can self-isolate to prevent further spread of the virus. Staff will also test themselves twice weekly at home.
Since the start of January, our on-site ATC has been testing up to 120 people per day. Next week, we will recruit and train the staff needed to increase this testing capacity so that we can test around 450 students each day.
We will need to have a staggered start so we can test each child before they return to lessons with their peers. The plan for each year group is as follows:
Students in the same year group will be issued with different start times so that we can safely run our testing facility; it is essential that students follow this instruction and arrive at the time instructed. Further details will be provided next week with the time that your child is required to attend school for their test. We are also planning one of our school information videos to give parents and students a clear idea of what to expect on their first day back at school.
Children attending Key Worker School should continue to attend school each day, regardless of the year group they are in. From Tuesday 9th March, we will organise Key Worker School differently so that students will follow their normal school timetable and attend lessons with their usual teacher.
Year 7 are our largest year group (250 students), and we anticipate that they will need more support than other year groups undertaking their first test and it is for this reason that we have chosen to bring them back to school on Thursday, once we have gained the experience of bringing all of the other year groups safely back to school.
We are really looking forward to having the full school back together from Thursday 11th March and are in the process of revising our School Risk Assessment again to ensure that we have safety measures that are as strong as possible in place to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus. Our focus on social distancing and regular handwashing remains paramount, alongside the regular testing and wearing of face coverings. As always, the Risk Assessment document is published for parents on the school website.
In addition, the government has instructed schools that up until Easter, staff and students must wear face coverings on all occasions when inside the school building where social distancing cannot be maintained; this means that students will now be expected to wear face coverings during their lessons (although not in some practical lessons, such as PE). The government has issued guidance regarding exemption from wearing face coverings (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own ) and if your child falls in to one of these categories, please contact our Medical Safeguarding Worker, Anne Keen on [email protected]. She will then contact you via telephone to discuss your child’s health issues and issue your child with an exemption card.
I hope that you and your child continue to feel well-supported by the school during this period of lockdown. Whilst we know that staff and students are keen to return to face-to-face learning and are looking forward to being together again, it is important to acknowledge that many people will feel anxious about the prospect of being together in large groups again. I am confident that we will be able to work kindly and supportively in partnership together (staff, students and parents) so that we can keep one another as safe as possible and once again enjoy all of the tremendous benefits that being together brings to your child’s development, both academically and socially.
It is our privilege as staff of Admiral Lord Nelson School to work with an amazing community of children and their families. As your Headteacher, I am delighted by the prospect of bringing us all back together again. We can be justly proud of the phenomenal way we have continued with learning remotely and the dedication, tenacity and resilience of your children (and of our staff) throughout this period of lockdown has been incredible. I remain immensely grateful to you all, our parents, for your support for our staff and for your children’s education, which has been an extraordinary challenge for all families throughout the past year.
Take care and stay safe,