9th December 2020
Firstly, I would like to congratulate your daughters on how they have approached this difficult term.
Their resilience, humour and diligence have been commendable as they tackle the challenge of continuing their learning in difficult circumstances. We’re always proud of our school community, and this year even more so.
However, we still have another full week of term and this needs careful management. As we have done all through the term, we continue to face the difficult prospect of having to ask members of the school community to self-isolate if they are a close contact to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
As we enter the last week of term, we face the added risk that this 14-day self-isolation period now takes us over Christmas itself. This is not something any of us would want for any of our community.
School leaders, national education organisations and MPs, including our own in Southampton, have spent the last few weeks warning the government of the risk of this happening to families and asked for schools to have the option of moving to remote learning in the last week of term if they see it as in the best interests of their school community. Being in school is the best place for pupils to be, but this needs to be weighed with the potential impact on the following fortnight for families. Each school community is different, and so it was felt be many that having the autonomy to do what is best for each was important. Sadly, this has been denied and instead yesterday we were given the option of having an INSET day on Friday, 18th December.
An INSET Day at the end of term will reduce the contact students and staff will have with others by 20% in that final week and increase the gap between the last day in school and the first day of any Christmas bubble starting, keeping older relatives safer over the holiday period. Sadly, it only lessens rather than prohibits the chance of becoming a close contact to someone on the other days in the last week, and as a result having to self-isolate over Christmas. However, it is better than nothing and we have decided to implement it.
The last day of term will now be Thursday, 17th December.
Thursday, 17th December will be an earlier closure as usual (closing at 12:15)
School will not be open for pupils on Friday, 18th December.
The rules around the sixth form college are slightly different, and Mr Tucker is sending a separate communication to those families.
In other years, on the final day of term pupils would not have lessons but instead take part in our end-of-term celebrations. We want these to continue, and so will move our final day celebrations to the day before, the 17th December. As such, it will be an early finish on Thursday, 17th, rather than Friday, 18th December. More information about the final day preparations will be sent separately.
I hope it is clear that these decisions have been made as quickly as we can with the well-being of students, staff and their families in mind. To explain what will happen with regards to contact tracing over the holiday period, I have added specifics at the end of this letter.
As always, we thank you for your support and wish you and your family well over the forthcoming Christmas period.
School Track and Trace over the Christmas holidays
From the 14th to the 17th December, it is vital that all families continue to follow the expectations with regards to coronavirus, particularly as we head towards Christmas. If anyone in your household has any coronavirus symptoms, however mild, do not send your daughter into school, but stay at home and get a test for the person with symptoms. You must alert the school by calling us or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up to and including the 23rd December, if your daughter develops symptoms within 48 hours of last being in school and tests positive for coronavirus, you must alert the school by calling us or emailing email@example.com. We will then identify close contacts and inform them to self-isolate.
If your daughter tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in college, please call and leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us. However, the college will not be expected to identify close contacts. You should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
This means that, if you do not hear from us by the end of the 23rd December, you will definitely not be receiving a call from the school to ask your daughter or son to self-isolate for the rest of the holiday period.
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