Covid Testing for Return to School

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Dear Parent / Guardian

I am writing to you with regard to arrangements for pupils returning to school from Monday 8th March. As I shared earlier this week, whilst the headlines have been that all pupils return from Monday 8th March, as always the devil is in the detail.

A key element of the instructions to secondary schools that was published this week is the instruction that all pupils who consent must be tested prior to returning to face-to-face teaching. In order to facilitate this schools are able to spread their opening across the week beginning 8th March. The testing process generates many challenges. This includes the fact that pupils cannot mix prior to their test, can only be tested in relatively small groups and must wait 30 minutes for their results, not entering classes for the first time until a negative result has been received. As such I am sure that parents will accept, having 1400 pupils arrive on Monday 8th to be tested is not achievable.

That said, we also recognise that pupils have had a long time out of school and we are keen for them to return as soon as possible. In order to marry these two ambitions together we are putting in place testing from Wednesday 3rd to Sunday 7th March. It is our intent for all pupils to be tested during this time so that we are able to achieve a full return to school and classes on the morning of Monday 8th March. This is a massive logistical undertaking and will rely heavily on parents’ willingness to put themselves out to support us.

Parents will shortly be sent a google form where they are able to sign up for their child’s testing slot. Each year group has a set number of slots on a particular day. The older year groups will be tested on Wednesday to Friday because they are more able to access school on their own. Younger year groups will have slots over the weekend. There will also be a limited number of catch up slots. Please sign up between now and Tuesday 2nd March at 3pm when the forms will close.

We appreciate completely the difficulty this creates for parents who will have to support their children visiting school for their testing slot, however, there is no alternative. If we do not do this next week, we will have to do it the week after anyway which will be just as disruptive for parents and more educationally damaging for the pupils.

Therefore, what we are asking parents to do is:

  • Respond to the google form which will be sent shortly and sign up for the best testing slot for your child. We are offering over 50 slots per hour to maximise uptake. If you do not do this you will be allocated a time and if your child does not attend they may not be able to return to school first thing on Monday 8th. We will need to work through any backlog of untested pupils and they will have to stay at home until this is done.
  • Ensure the correct consent form (circulated yesterday) is completed. This is extremely important. Without a consent form, we cannot activate and register the test.
  • Arrange for your child to visit school for their appointment time and return home afterwards. Parents who intend to drive their child to their appointment should wait in their cars whilst their child is tested and use the lower gate.

Your child needs to:

  • Attend their appointment slot.
  • Wear a mask when on the school site. Uniform is not needed for their testing.
  • Be considerate of government guidance if travelling to school alone. The DfE have confirmed travelling to be tested at school prior to the 8th March is legitimate. However, pupils should travel singly and not in groups.
  • Ensure that they are distancing on arrival at the school site. They should go directly to the hall which will be set up as a distanced waiting area.
  • Follow instructions carefully and efficiently in order to undertake the test quickly and accurately.
  • Leave site immediately following their test.

We appreciate completely that this will place an additional strain on families who are already having to contend with challenging circumstances. However, this is the best way of undertaking these tests quickly and efficiently and in a way that will enable all pupils to return on the 8th.

After this initial test, necessary to ensure return to face-to-face teaching, all students will undertake two further tests at school over the subsequent days during school time. Upon completion of all 3 tests, students will revert to home testing with kits we will provide.

Please also note that whilst this means pupils will be able to return to face-to-face teaching from the 8th, we will have no canteen facilities available until Thursday 11th March so all students will need to provide their own food until this time.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the school via office@sjwms.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

Mr E Hodges | Headteacher