I hope that you and your families remain safe and well and that you had the benefit of a restful and relaxing summer.
It has been really pleasing to see our students back in school this week and to welcome them back into our school community. As expected, the lateral flow testing did cause some minor disruption but I am proud to say that our staff and students demonstrated superb resilience in the way they coped. We have had limited positive cases emerge through the testing centre, which are well below the rates reported within the local community. We hope this continues and with your support in continuing to test at home we can manage potential outbreaks before they occur. We have contacted families of positive cases swiftly and delivered appropriate guidance. I must thank our staff who were involved in the important work of the testing centre.
It was a particular pleasure this week to see our Year 7 students embracing their new school experience. They have had the chance to spend a lot of time with their tutors and seem on balance to have had a settled start to life at Plantsbrook. Similarly, our new Year 12 students, many of whom are new to Plantsbrook, appear to have started positively.
On Monday 13th September we are tentatively opening our doors for the first time in a long time to prospective parents and students for the 2022 intake. This will be a low-key event, which will enable us to review how we proceed with these types of school events moving forward. We are being cautious and will be restricting entry to one parent per child, we are also requesting face coverings to be worn and visitors to be prepared to be in and out within 30 minutes. We genuinely hope to be able to welcome current parents into the building to attend school events at some point in the near future. We would, however, respectfully ask you to be patient with us as we adjust to the easing of Covid restrictions and balance all of the competing factors in doing so. We will keep you informed of any developments as soon as we are in the position to make well-informed decisions on this front.
As we all know the easing of restrictions is commonplace in society but I would like to reassure you that we have retained many of the measures we adopted as part of our Covid risk management. Hand sanitisers, one-way systems, split breaks and lunchtimes are just some examples of this. We will review additional measures as and when we need to, in particular if we are unfortunate enough to experience an outbreak within our school community. We will continue to follow best practice and the advice of public health professionals if this is the case and keep you informed in the process.
Additionally it is worth noting that there have been some significant changes with regard to the management of positive cases, track and trace and self-isolation. Since August 16th there is no requirement to self-isolate if you have been a close contact of a positive case, unless you develop symptoms or test positive. If we at school are informed of a positive case we are no longer identifying close contacts, contacting their families and instructing them to self-isolate. This does mean there should be far less disruption to our students’ learning. However, the consequence is that students may be at risk of exposure and that is why the frequent and regular testing at home is crucial.
We would also ask that if your child develops symptoms that you isolate them until you have a negative PCR test result. They will be marked as an X code if this is the case, which does not affect their school attendance record. The revised attendance guidance for Covid related absence makes it mandatory for schools to record confirmed Covid related absence as illness. However, if we are not satisfied that the absence is Covid related this could be marked as an unauthorised absence, which does affect a student’s attendance record. Please review the link below for further information if this is unclear.
If students are forced to self-isolate but are physically well then they will be able to access remote education resources from our usual online platforms of Google Classroom and Satchel One.
Finally, I want to thank you for helping to make the start of the new year so positive. The vast majority of our students have been well presented in terms of attitude and uniform and we look forward to this continuing. We are hoping for a term filled with enthusiasm, energy and excitement.
Stay safe, take care and thank you for your continued support.