School Coronavirus Update – 31/12/2020

Dear Parents/Carers, 

 

I am writing to update you after the Senior Leadership Team met this morning. We are entirely committed to delivering what is right for our school, our community and as you know I will always be honest and transparent where I can. With this in mind, I share with you here the guidance that arrived yesterday evening. This delayed opening was not unexpected and I truly believe it is the right decision for maintaining student, staff and our families safety and well being. 

 

Whilst some may have political views on schools being used as testing centres, perhaps now is the time to clarify our position. There is an explicit expectation, by the DfE, on ALL secondary schools to undertake the lateral flow testing for COVID routinely for staff and at the start of term for ALL students. This is not something that I, as the Headteacher, can go against. There is no financial incentive for schools to do this testing, but reasonable costs incurred as part of the initiative will be covered by the DfE.

 

I am truly grateful to my loyal, committed team of staff who have embraced the changes to the start of term arrangements, giving up some of their much needed holiday. I am really pleased to report that we, as ever, are ahead of the process. We have already undertaken significant planning, training and construction work on setting up our systems and procedures to ensure that we are ready to implement mass testing as soon as we receive the tests and further equipment on 4th January 2021.

 

Within this latest letter you will receive detailed guidance about remote learning planned for the first week of term. As you know we already declared an INSET day on Monday 4th, so learning will commence from Tuesday 5th January. Many of you will have already had a very positive experience of  remote learning  during lockdown 1, but I am also acutely aware that some of our Year 7 families will be worried at something that may be different from their experience at primary schools. Guidance is attached to this email on how to access the learning and also access to devices if you are in difficulty. May I take this opportunity to reinforce that these lessons are not optional and attendance registers are taken for each lesson, as per normal school. Non attendance may see further action being taken. 

 

As for our Year 11s we have decided to postpone the mock exams planned for the 11th January to the week ahead, starting Monday 18th January 2021. I imagine that this latest development will undoubtedly be unsettling for Year 11 and the disruption it causes to your routine learning. Therefore it is absolutely essential that Year 11 attend the online lessons as these will be vital to the continuity of their education. 

 

Our Free School Meal families in Years 7 to 10, should have already received their vouchers for the first week of January, Year 11 vouchers will be issued as soon as possible. If you are a family in need and do not qualify for free school meals, please get in contact with me explaining your needs and wherever possible we will try to support you. There is not an endless pot of money, but we will do our best to feed your children where there is a need. 

 

In lockdown periods and time away from school we know that everyone’s mental health can be at risk. Later in this letter you will find details of the support on offer. Please ensure that your child knows that it is there, no one should suffer, please reach out where you need to, we are a family that supports each other. 

 

The government’s guidance has changed and it is vital that we follow the advice, if not we will find ourselves back in lockdown:

 

Stay Alert

As we are in Tier 4, it is essential we all do what we can to help control the virus. This means you must remember, ‘Hands. Face. Space’

  • hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
  • face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)

Home schooling

    • Full details of the students timetable can be found at the end of this letter for the week beginning Tuesday 5th January 2021.
    • Where students do not have lessons timetabled they are expected to complete work independently either in preparation for live lessons or as tasks set as homework
    • If you have any IT issues please email itsupport@crestwood.hants.sch.uk
    • If you have any questions regarding the learning please email ross.birtwhistle@crestwood.hants.sch.uk 
    • Please note online lessons can be accessed via mobile phones.
    • The sessions are recorded so they can be viewed by students later, if they miss the live version due to restrictions in IT equipment.
  • Please use the link in google classrooms and be connected to the internet, otherwise if you are on a mobile device it could use a lot of mobile data. 

 

ICT Hardware and Internet Access for students

I am acutely aware that some students do not have access to a computer, tablet or device at home. If you are in need of support please email andrew.whittick@crestwood.hants.sch.uk

 

Concerns about your child:

 

  • We are very much in a controlled environment and must avoid any risks to those staff on site. Please do not be offended if you arrive at school and are sent away. 

 

Students in need of emotional support

We have established phone lines for students who require emotional support. These will be staffed by our highly skilled pastoral team. They operate from 9am – 2pm each day, Monday to Friday.

 

Emails are as follows and we will update this guidance with individual phone numbers later:

 

We have also set up a site with useful links to external services and resources to support those in need of advice on a wide range of subjects, please follow the link below to find out more: https://padlet.com/tim_nash/o0qarrip7u3g

 

Parents requiring support

It is difficult for everyone during these times but we need you to know that you are never alone. If you as a parent need to speak to someone for support then please contact our Parent Support between 8.30am – 4pm, Monday to Friday. Unfortunately, Jane Cole is currently off sick but acting in this role is Kaye Bezant, who can be contacted at kaye.bezant@crestwood.hants.sch.uk

 

Free School Meals (FSM) in the period of closure

  • If your circumstances have changed and you feel you are now eligible for Free School Meals you can check here https://www.cloudforedu.org.uk/ofsm/hants or contact alison.samways@crestwood.hants.sch.uk Thank you to the parents that have done so, it is important you get your entitlement.
  • If you have not had any contact from us it could be because you are not eligible or your email address on our system is wrong. If you have changed your email please let Julia Hughes know. 
  • Each week of closure you will be entitled to a £15 voucher, per child, that can be used in local supermarkets. 
  • These vouchers will be emailed to you each week. 
  • In order to receive these vouchers you must have registered for the scheme to comply with GDPR regulations. If you have failed to register and believe you are eligible please contact julia.hughes@crestwood.hants.sch.uk. 

 

School opening for children of critical workers/ Vulnerable students

In the latest Downing Street Briefing, it was stated that this strain of COVID “loves a crowd”.  Schools are crowded places, even with social distancing measures in place, and I would kindly request that if you fulfil the Critical Worker or Vulnerable Child criteria, that if you can have your child at home then please do so for everyone’s safety. 

 

We want as few children in school as possible to minimise the risk of any transmission until we get the COVID testing rolled out. If you do not genuinely need the space then please keep your child at home safe from transmission, as whilst many children do not have symptoms, they can come home and pass it to your family. A member of the SLT will be calling you before Monday to discuss your request to ascertain if there is a real need. If after reading this you feel you no longer want the place then please email steve.gibbs@crestwood.hants.sch.uk. Thank you to those families that have already done this.

 

We have been asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children, including vulnerable children and those children whose parents are critical to the COVID19 response and who cannot be safely cared for at home.  From this you can clearly see that this is not a provision for the majority of our students.

 

Students will not be undertaking any different learning to those students remaining at home, they will be based in rooms, with access to ICT, to undertake the same learning as their peers. The provisions will be manned by Teaching Assistants, to free up teaching staff to teach their lessons. This provides an equality of opportunity for all. 

 

All the details can be found at the following links:

 

Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers 

 

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision  

 

We have limited spaces and have to maintain skeletal staffing to observe social distancing. If you feel that your circumstances have changed and you are now working in the critical work sector please contact steve.gibbs@crestwood.hants.sch.uk to advise us of the support you require. If your child has an EHCP and you need support contact the address given for Mr. Gibbs but copy in keren.groom@crestwood.hants.sch.uk

 

Social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

  • I am very grateful to Mrs. Gray for maintaining our social media sites, they are fantastic and show what an epic #crestwoodfamily we have.
  • The Social Media sites are going to primarily be focussed on learning activities for our students and information sharing. 
  • Please remember to send any pictures to Mrs Gray at loretta.gray@crestwood.hants.sch.uk

 

Lateral Flow Testing 2021

As you are aware we will be organising testing of all students before they return to school . Students  will be allocated a time slot  during the morning or afternoon slot indicated in the timetable below. This time slot will be sent to you electronically. 

 

It is essential that you have completed the electronic consent form as we CANNOT test students without  your consent .

 

Staff will be trained in order to help your child complete their test on Monday 4th January 2021. The testing process is using the “Lateral Flow” process, where results will be known after 30 minutes of taking the test. 

  • The test uses a swab for the back of the throat and nostrils, which are administered, where possible, by the person themselves. 
  • Testing centres have been set up on each campus.
  • Testing is optional and consent must be given by the parents. If you have not yet completed the consent form please do so using this link.
  • If you consent to the testing, students are tested between 3 and 5 days apart initially.
  • Appointment times will be sent to students over the next week, they must come to school at their allotted time, leaving immediately afterwards.
  • If a test returns positive, the person must attend a testing centre and undertake a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
  • There will be no need to test students again, unless they develop symptoms or are identified as a close contact of a positive case.
  • Staff will be on hand to support students who may have difficulties in administering the test themselves. 
  • If identified as a close contact of a positive case, those students who are part of the testing schedule can remain in school, undertaking daily testing for 7 days. Those who are not part of the testing scheme, identified as a close contact,  will be sent home to isolate for 10 days.

 

Timetable for testing

Year  Date of Test 1 Time period Date of Test 2 Time period
7 Monday 11th January  PM Thursday 14th January  PM
8 Friday 8th January PM Wednesday 13th January PM
9 Friday 8th January AM Wednesday 13th January AM
10 Thursday 7th January PM Tuesday 12th January  PM
11 Thursday 7th January  AM Monday 11th January AM
Catch up tests  Thursday14th January AM Monday 18th January AM
Staff Tuesday 5th January All Day Friday 8th January All Day

 

Finally, just a reminder of the NHS guidance:

Stay at home and self-isolate

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have a positive test result but do not have symptoms, stay at home and self-isolate as soon as you receive the results. Your household needs to isolate too.
  • Arrange to have a PCR test for COVID-19 if you have not already had one. Stay at home while you are waiting for a home test kit, a test site appointment or a test result. 
  • You can leave your home in certain circumstances, but do not go to work, school, or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis. Only leave your home to get to your test if you need to, observe strict social distancing advice and return immediately afterwards.
  • Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. This means that if, for example, your symptoms started at any time on the 15th of the month (or if you did not have symptoms but your first positive COVID-19 test was taken on the 15th), your isolation period ends at 23:59 hrs on the 25th.
  • A positive PCR test result means you must complete your full isolation period. Your official isolation period starts immediately from when your symptoms started. If you do not have any symptoms and test positive via a LFD test you should self-isolate until you have taken a confirmatory PCR test. The official 10-day self-isolation period being from the positive PCR result.
  • A positive LFD test result also means you must complete 10 days isolation, unless this is followed by a PCR test and the result is negative.
  • You can return to your normal routine and stop self-isolating after 10 full days if your symptoms have gone, or if the only symptoms you have are a cough or anosmia, which can last for several weeks. If you still have a high temperature after 10 days or are otherwise unwell, stay at home and seek medical advice.
  • If you are isolating because of a positive test result but did not have any symptoms, and you develop COVID-19 symptoms within your isolation period, start a new 10 day isolation period by counting 10 full days from the day following your symptom onset.
  • Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness. Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening.
  • Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Wherever possible, avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Wear a face covering or a surgical mask when spending time in shared areas inside your home.
  • Take exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space. Follow the general advice to reduce the spread of the infection within your household.

 

It wasn’t quite the news I wanted to bring you this holiday but we all have to dig deep, showing the resilience and tenacity that we have already shown through the entire pandemic.  Introducing the mass testing will keep us safer, potentially allowing a slowing in transmission, saving lives. Many parents have told me that they were nervous about their child returning after this latest delay in closure and would keep them at home. As I have always said from the start, you have to do what you need to do as parents for the safety of your family. When the time is right we will be back to normality, doing what we do, but please don’t think it will be easy. We have many challenges ahead but together we will face them. 

 

Please take care of yourselves and do contact me at any point with your questions. I am fiercely proud of our #Crestwoodfamily, thank you so much for all your messages of support, it does keep us going. I will raise a glass to you all tonight, wishing you a better 2021 and pray for the vaccines to roll out speedily so we can return to a sense of normalcy. 

 

Krista Dawkins

Head Teacher