21st December 2020
Important Update about the Start of Term
Summary of message:
Apologies for emailing you over the Christmas break, but you may have seen the news that schools are now expected to have staggered start to the term in January and have the option of introducing some sort of rapid testing of the school communities in the first week. This new guidance has come out after the end of term, hence why I am having to disrupt your Christmas breaks. For this I apologise.
I will keep this as short as possible. There are two parts to this message. The first is about the staggered return for pupils, and the second is about the potential rapid testing of the school community.
Monday, 4th January 2021
We have been allowed to have an extra INSET day at the start of term. As such, Monday, 4th January will be an INSET day to allow us to prepare for this last minute change of plan, and for us to start to plan for possible testing. No students will be on-site, except for those year 13 students taking part in planned PPE exams which will go ahead as planned.
Tuesday, 5th January - Friday, 8th January 2021
Monday, 11th January 2021
All year groups are expected back on-site.
Rapid Testing on the return after the Christmas Break
We are still awaiting full guidance on this last-minute offer from the government and so it is too early to say whether this is something that we plan to deliver in the first week. The principle of testing all students and staff is one I am very much in favour of, but it has to be conducted safely and effectively. As such, I will finalise and communicate plans as soon as there is clarity about the offer.
For information, this offer from the government which we received after the end of term uses lateral flow tests (such as are used in care homes) and is separate to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight saliva testing I wrote to you about last week. The saliva testing programme has been carefully piloted by 4 schools in the city over the last term under the guidance of the local NHS Trust and the University of Southampton, and was already planned to be introduced into St Anne's a few weeks into the new term. Going forward, this will become the way we conduct weekly tests of the school community as it is more reliable, less invasive and easier to manage logistically. However, the advantage of the lateral flow test programme is that, if we were to have a positive test result from someone in the school community, rather than have to ask all close contacts to self-isolate, we are allowed to use the lateral flow tests to test close contacts daily and keep pupils in school if they are negative. I plan on us moving towards a blended approach to testing in the school as soon as it is practical and safe to do so.
Thanks for your continued patience as we deal with rapidly changing national expectations.
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