Headteachers Letter 8 March 2021

This letter is also available in PDF format (click here)

Monday 8th March

Dear Parents and Carers

I hope you and your families are well. It is fantastic to see all the students starting to return to school. This letter is to provide you with an update on the next phase in the return to school. By Friday 12th March, following their initial test, all students should be attending lessons as normal; however, for a short period of time, lessons during the week commencing 15th March will continue to be disrupted as we continue the process of mass testing in school. The in-school testing process will be completed by Friday 19th March.

Distribution of home testing kits and home testing

Once the in-school testing programme is completed, the expectation is that the Covid testing continues at home using Lateral Flow (LFD) testing kits that will be provided to you. In using our own staff to do the testing in school, we have carefully ensured that students have been shown how to self-administer the tests so that when they carry out the tests at home, they can do so confidently.

On Wednesday 17th March, we will be distributing the home testing kits to the students. We have to do this according to government guidelines. On Wednesday 17th March, Period 5 will be a dedicated form period. Form tutors will distribute the home testing kits, and show the students a video to remind them of how the testing should work at home. Once the testing kits have been distributed, students will be dismissed from school, slightly earlier than usual at approximately 2:30pm.

Each home testing kit contains a set of instructions and 7 tests. You should aim to test your child twice weekly, leaving 3 to 5 days between each test.

  • For students in Year 11, home testing can commence on Wednesday 17th March. This will be followed by a second test on Sunday 21st March, and then each subsequent Wednesday and Sunday.
  • For students in Year 7, Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10 home testing can commence on Sunday 21st March, The second test will follow on Wednesday 24th March and then each subsequent Sunday and Wednesday.

On each day, home testing needs to be completed and any positive results reported to school by 6pm. This allows us time to track and trace close contacts and inform them in good time, prior to the starting of the next school day.

The tests are designed to be self-administered for individuals aged 12 and over, although the guidance states that children under 12 years old require an adult to administer the test. When taking the test at home, you will need to help to prepare the test for your child and supervise them as they administer the test. If your child is under 12 years old, you may consider administering the test to your child. The tests are designed to give you a result within 30 minutes.

For added reassurance prior to home testing, we have capacity to conduct one further test in school if required by any individual. If you would like us to administer one further test in school, please complete the following electronic form. You only need to complete this form if you would like us to carry out a final test in school. Depending on uptake, the final tests are scheduled to take place on Friday 19th March. For all students who consent to this additional test in school, you will not need to commence home testing until Wednesday 24th March.

What happens if my child’s home test result is positive?

If your child’s test result is positive, you should not send your child to school and the household will need to self-isolate. In addition to reporting the result to the NHS, you should also report a positive test result to the school using the email covid@flhs.wigan.sch.uk no later than 6pm on the day of the test. Once you have reported the result to the NHS and the school, you will then need to arrange a separate PCR test at an external testing centre to confirm the result of the home test. If the PCR test is positive, the household will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the initial home test. If the test is negative, your child can return to school. You must inform the school of the result of the PCR test. This is important because it has implications for other students who may have been identified as close contacts and asked to self-isolate (see below)

Will identified close contacts of positive cases have to self- isolate?

Yes. Given the relative high rates of Covid-19 in Greater Manchester, contact-tracing guidance for Greater Manchester stipulates that identified close contacts of positive cases, including those identified by home tests, must self- isolate. As soon as we are made aware of a positive case, close contacts from school will be identified, informed as soon as possible, and asked to self-isolate. There will be occasions when we will be able to bring close contacts back into school, if the initial positive LFD home test result is later confirmed as negative by a PCR test. We understand that this will be inconvenient, but this is the action we must take to prevent transmission of the virus within our region.

Household Testing Kits

NHS Test and Trace have announced that all adults in households with school and college age children without symptoms can now access regular rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. Test kits can either be collected or ordered online. The full details about this scheme and how to order test kits for your household can be found here. Tests are fast, easy and completely free. If you have any queries about this scheme, you can also call 119 (free from mobiles and landlines). Testing is voluntary, but strongly recommended to all who are eligible.

An important note about LFD home testing

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can pass it on to others. The home testing kits are solely intended to identify these asymptomatic cases. Alongside the vaccine, washing hands, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing, rapid testing plays a vital role in reducing transmission rates. Getting into the habit of regular testing as part of everyday routine will help us all to play our part and do what we can to protect each other. However, LFD tests should not be used to test members of a household who are self-isolating following a confirmed case. If somebody is unwell and displaying symptoms of Covid, they must arrange a PCR Covid test at an external testing centre. If that PCR test result is positive, the household needs to isolate for 10 days in line with national guidance.

Travelling to school safely

The following safety recommendations apply for travelling to school:

  • If students live a short distance from school, it is advised that they walk or cycle to and from school wherever it is possible and safe to do so. Cyclists, remember your helmets!
  • You should avoid sharing a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.

For students who travel to school using public transport, they should remember to:

  • wear a face covering (unless exempt). It is important that they are worn for the entire journey, including inside a bus or train station
  • social distance where possible
  • wash or sanitise hands regularly
  • be considerate to fellow passengers and staff. Further guidance on transport to school can be found here.

Bubble Closures

Unfortunately, last week we had to close one of the critical worker bubbles in school due to a positive case of Covid. This serves as a timely reminder that, in spite of all our efforts, Covid remains in the community and we must all remain vigilant. When cases arise in school, we will need to continue to follow guidelines, and this will mean closing bubbles and asking close contacts to self- isolate. In order to minimise disruption and to keep schools open, it is vital that outside of school, the community adheres to current restrictions. The pandemic is not over yet.

I thank-you for your continued support and understanding.

Mr P Davies