Covid Update Jan 22
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Apologies for having to welcome you to 2022 with a COVID-19 related email. However, given the incredibly high case numbers at the moment, I am sure that many of you have been affected by Covid over this winter break. If you are currently unwell, I send get well wishes and hope that everyone has managed to celebrate and enjoy some family time together despite illness and periods of self-isolation.
The Department for Education issued updated guidance for schools this morning. While some of the guidance is only relevant for secondary schools, some of the updates are important for you to be aware of and so I ask that you please take the time to read the following carefully.
Changes to the self-isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10-day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.
Individuals may now take Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. This also applies to children under 5, with LFD testing at parental or guardian discretion. If both these test results are negative, and individuals do not have a high temperature, they may end their self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to school from day 8.
Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests will need to complete the full 10-day period of self-isolation. Further information is available in the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Daily testing for close contacts of COVID-19
Adults who are fully vaccinated and children over 5, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend school as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.
Children under 5 are not being advised to take part in daily testing of close contacts. If a child under 5 is a contact of a confirmed case, they are not required to self-isolate and should not start daily testing. If they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 they should limit their contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19 and arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible. They can continue to attend an education or childcare setting while waiting for the PCR result. If the test is positive, they should follow the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Asymptomatic testing and confirmatory PCR tests
Staff will continue to take their twice weekly LFD tests to help reduce the risk of transmission. There is no need for primary age pupils to regularly test, unless they have been identified as a contact for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore advised to take lateral flow tests for 7 days. I know that some of you do use LFD tests with your children and you may wish to administer a test before their return to school on Tuesday.
If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, they should not attend school and they should take a PCR test as soon as possible. Whilst awaiting the PCR result, individuals should continue to self-isolate. If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of a positive lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the LFD test and the child can return to school, as long as they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
Funded air cleaning units for education and childcare settings
You may have heard reports in the news about some schools being provided with special air cleaning units. This is not relevant for Gunthorpe at present. CO2 monitors are present in rooms around school so that ventilation levels can be monitored on a daily basis. Sadly we do not have enough for every classroom however will continue to rotate these around on a regular basis.
You may recall during the Autumn term I wrote regarding the issues we were experiencing with staff absence. We will continue to do all we can to ensure school remains open and, where teachers and teaching assistants are required to isolate, we will always try our best to cover their absence with staff who are known to the school. Please know that this won’t always be possible, given the number of people affected and the increased demand for supply teachers. Where teachers are absent for extended periods, I will continue to communicate cover arrangements with parents and carers so that children can be made aware of who their teacher(s) will be during this time.
Learning from Home
Where a child has tested positive for COVID-19 but has very mild or no symptoms, then work is available on our school website for your child's class. Each class also has their own email address which can be used for parents to send work and teachers to feedback. Teachers can also share any additional activities which could be completed at home via this. If a child’s class teacher is absent and unwell, you will be provided with an alternative contact to provide additional guidance regarding schoolwork and feedback.
The above is only relevant when absence from school has been authorised. Additional guidance and feedback will not be provided for periods of unauthorised absence.
Where children are unwell with COVID-19 or absent as a result of any other illness, there is obviously no expectation to complete any schoolwork.
Should whole classes or year groups be required to self-isolate, a full timetable of home learning will be published for each day, to include live meetings via zoom.
The wearing of face coverings is not recommended for primary aged pupils. Staff will continue to wear masks in corridors and communal areas of school, but not while teaching.
Additional Control Measures
We will continue to ensure good hygiene for everyone by asking children to clean their hands regularly and adopt the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it approach.
Where additional measures need to be introduced as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak in school, these will be communicated to you.
We are looking forward to seeing you back at school on Tuesday. Thanks for your continued support and here’s to 2022!