Secondary-age students at Bradley Stoke Community School who have been remote learning since the beginning of the third Covid-19 lockdown in early January will recommence in-school learning on Monday 15th March 2021.
Although the government has set an expectation that face-to-face learning will resume from 8th March, schools have been given flexibility to phase the return to help meet a requirement that all students take three Covid-19 tests before returning to the classroom.
In a letter to parents and carers, headteacher Steve Moir explains:
“We have been doing detailed preparation and planning in all Olympus secondary settings in readiness for the return to in-school learning for all students. Having planned out the logistics of running the testing on this scale, it is clear that we do not have the capacity to support whole-school Covid-19 testing with the number of staff required, and at the same time, manage all students in school learning as the significant numbers of staff needed to run our test centres will be unavailable for their normal duties during these testing periods.”
Consequently, it has been decided that all students will remain at home and continue to be provided with remote learning until the week beginning Monday 15th March.
Concurrently, students will be invited into school to complete their Covid-19 swab tests, under staff supervision, from Thursday 4th March and Friday 5th March and through the week beginning 8th March to complete their second and third tests with the required 3-5 days separation.
In-school learning will recommence with on-site induction from Monday 15th March.
The vulnerable and [children of] critical worker student group, currently operating in school, will
continue to do so week for the week beginning 8th March.
Students and staff will be expected to wear face coverings in school, including in class, in all situations where social distancing is not possible until further notice. This includes visits to school premises for Covid-19 tests from 4th March.
When students are outside at break and lunch times, and in their year bubble areas, they will not need to wear their face masks.
Mr Moir explains:
“The in-class wearing of masks is an addition to the guidance and has been evidenced as offering greater protection of infection in classroom and similar environments. It is due to be reviewed at Easter by the Department for Education.”
To aid social distancing, the school will continue to operate two entrances and exits, along with staggered arrival and departure times for the different year groups.
Plans for the return to in-school learning for the school’s primary phase pupils will be announced separately.
Related link: Letter to parents dated 26th February 2021
Update: Reopening plans unchanged following identification of mutant strain
Added 2nd March 2021.
Bradley Stoke Community School has today confirmed that the reopening plans detailed above are not impacted by the identification of two cases of a Covid-19 variant of concern (the Brazilian P.1 mutant) in the local area.
In a letter to parents/carers, headteacher Steve Moir writes:
“I have, as ever, taken advice from South Gloucestershire’s public health team and Public Health England. Both have emphasised that there are no additional measures required to be put into place and that we should carry on with the plans we have shared about the lateral flow testing and re-opening the school to all students.”
He quotes the following advice from the local authority public health team:
There are no instructions for education settings to close in areas where new variants have been identified and we are not expecting a change in the government plan that all students return to school. If you are coordinating lateral flow tests (LFT) or your staff are getting them regularly at a community testing site, this should carry on.
The surge testing [currently being carried out within the wider community in the Stokes and Patchway] is a short-term exercise in addition to the testing you have in place and you are encouraged to have both. You do not need to self-isolate while waiting for the results of a community surge test and you only need to carry out this test once.
Related link: Letter to parents dated 2nd March 2021
Update: Home testing for families and households
Added 5th March 2021.
From an update email issued by South Gloucestershire Council on 4th March 2021:
Families and households with primary school, secondary school or college-age children, including childcare and support bubbles, are encouraged to test themselves twice every week from home. Regular testing for those without symptoms will help keep you, your family, and your school community safe.
We are working hard to provide kits for collection from sites in the community. Information on local collection points will be shared once available. For now, rapid home testing kits can be booked for home delivery here: www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
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