I hope you are well and have had the opportunity to enjoy some of the lovely weather we have seen over the half-term break.
The infection rates in Rossendale continue to be a concern and the latest data indicates the area continues to have the third-highest rate in the country, behind only Blackburn and Bolton. Given the high infection rates in school and the apparent increased rate of transmission, I believe the decision to close school on Tuesday 25 May and provide a 13 day ‘firebreak’ was the right one and will have broken any school-based chains of infection.
Over the last couple of days, I have been in contact with senior members of Lancashire’s Public Health team and the County Council to discuss our plans for next week. Despite speculation in the local press this week, Lancashire County Council has no plans to close schools and are very keen to offer their support in helping our students return to school in as safe a way as possible on Monday. Public Health teams across the country are clear that they believe the key to overcoming the pandemic lies in vaccinating all adults and regular testing of children and adults.
In discussion with Lancashire’s Deputy Director of Public Health we agreed the following:
- Students should continue to take the lateral flow tests provided by school twice each week, with one of these being completed on Sunday evenings to minimise disruption to other students learning should a positive test be recorded. We recommend the other test should be completed on Thursday evening,
- Any positive lateral flow tests should be followed up with a PCR test.
- Lancashire County Council will provide enough PCR tests this Monday for students to take one home and use, and then return it to school on Tuesday. LCC will provide additional PCR tests for other members of the household, which students will also bring home with them on Monday and should return the following day.
- If your child feels unwell DO NOT send them into school. Instead, you should keep them at home and book a PCR test, even if they do not exhibit the classic symptoms (high temperature, cough or lack of sense of smell or taste.)
- Students should continue to follow the protective measures we had in place prior to half-term, including regular hand washing/sanitising, wearing facemasks whilst indoors and minimising contact with others wherever possible.
Your support in helping keep all members of our school community, and their families, safe, is greatly appreciated.
In addition, Lancashire County Council is meeting today to discuss plans for community testing, making it quick and easy for anyone to get a PCR test even if they don’t have any symptoms.
There is financial support for people on low incomes who have to self-isolate but cannot work from home. The revised criteria for accessing both mandatory and discretionary payments can be found by following this link. If you have any questions about this, you can send these to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, the government announced that from Monday 17 May, international travel can gradually resume as destinations are added to (or removed from) England’s ‘green list’. I have been asked by the DfE to remind parents that people should not travel to ‘amber’ and ‘red’ countries and that strict rules on testing and quarantine remain in place to protect public health and the vaccination programme. Further information can be found in the guidance on red, amber and green list rules for entering England
In terms of practical arrangements for our return to school, on Monday only, we will have limited facility to provide school meals due to a number of our catering team having to self-isolate. As such there will be no food available at break, and the only choices available from the canteens at lunchtime will be Pasta King vegetarian choice, sweet and sour chicken with rice and a small selection of sandwiches. The hall will be open for students bringing packed lunches only. You may wish to send your child with a packed lunch on Monday.
Finally, the week beginning Monday 14 June is our annual exam week and we are making plans for this to go ahead in as normal a fashion as possible, with some amendments to maintain our processes for Covid management. Mr Goodman will be writing with more details about this early next week, including exam timetables, and class teachers will be giving students guidance during the week to ensure that they are prepared.
As always if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your ongoing support at this very difficult time.
Mark Jackson, Headteacher