End Of Term Amendment.
Dear Parents/ Carers,
The Department for Education (DfE) announced yesterday that it is seeking to minimise the burden of track and trace falling on schools over the Christmas period. Public Health England has agreed that schools should not be expected to track and trace contacts after a period of six days has passed since children’s final day in school. The DfE suggests that schools use Friday 18th December as a training day as this will mean the 6-day track and trace period will expire on 23rd December, ensuring that schools can break fully for Christmas. This will also very slightly mitigate the chances of all of our families’ Christmas being marred by having to isolate.
Therefore, instead of term finishing at 1.45pm on Friday 18th December, it will now finish at 3.15pm on Thursday 17th December. TCS Exeter Road will be closed on the 18th to all children and will re-open for students on Tuesday 5th January 2021.
The following outlines the DfE and Public Health England guidance:
• Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
• For the first 6 days after teaching ends, if a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, we as a school will assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school. If this is the case, as per my previous letter, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• After 6 days from the last day in school, so from Wednesday 23rd December, there should be no pupil contact tracing reports to us for the rest of the holiday.
• If your son/daughter is not able to return to school at the start of next term, due to Covid symptoms or otherwise, please contact Student Services in the normal manner at the start of term.
I do apologise for the change and lateness of this decision and share your frustration that this advice was only sent to schools yesterday. I do think that it is right that staff and children are able to have a proper break over the ‘relaxed lockdown phase’ of the Christmas holiday with their families, and that this earlier close marginally improves the chances of this. I hope you agree that missing a final, shortened day won’t limit your son/daughter’s education but I am mindful and sorry for the inconvenience caused.
Separately but connected, I am afraid that staff shortages are beginning to have a very significant impact on our ability to function. Although we have no known cases of the virus directly in our school, we have an increasing number of staff having to isolate or remain home because they have to look after children or others have been contacted by test and trace services. We may, from next week, need to ask single year groups to remain home for one day in order that we can provide enough staff to run the school safely and productively for everyone. I will confirm if this is the case before Monday. If so, our provisional plan is that we would rotate year groups not in on a daily basis with Year 9, then Year 8 and then Year 7 being asked to remain at home for one day. Any year group asked to work from home will have remote learning provided for them by staff. It seems quite possible that this may be necessary at times in the year too.
I would like to thank you again for the many kind messages of support we have received and finally, I would like to again wish you a safe, restful and joyful festive break when it arrives.