To all Thurlbear families,
South West Public Health have advised us that all South West local authority areas are in areas of rapidly rising infection and therefore triggering thresholds for additional action. To ensure consistency, South West Directors of Public Health and regional colleagues have jointly agreed the additional advice and action set out below in order that their schools can implement additional COVID response measures as proportionate or necessary.
• The South West is experiencing the impact of national rising case rates and the impact of increased transmission arising from false negative PCR results
• SW Case rates have increased sharply against the national average and are expected to continue to rise
• The majority of cases are in school age groups. There is evidence of this translating into adults of parent age
.• Over 60 rates are rising steadily. Hospital Admissions for Covid have increased
• The greater prevalence is being seen in school age children and their families
• All local authority areas are in areas of rapidly rising infection and therefore triggering thresholds that warrant additional action.
Given the evidence of spread of infection in pupils and the impact on staffing across South West educational settings since term began, SWDPH are advising all settings to review contingency plans within the national contingency framework to implement, where possible and appropriate, those protective measures listed where threshold levels have been reached. This will help to minimise the spread of infection and maintain good quality face to face education.
Where local rates are high, and schools are experiencing challenges from widespread transmission, or where there is a clear risk of widespread transmission South West Directors of Public Health recommend schools invoke a precautionary and sensible set of measures; maintaining these for 14 days post half term (whilst they review) to limit the impact of social mixing at half term. Enhanced mitigation measures are required to prevent transmission, prevent school closures and to maintain appropriate levels of education.
SWDPH advise the following:
• “Continued good infection prevention control (ventilation, touchpoint cleaning), including in areas where staff gather.” This has been ongoing at Thurlbear and our cleaning regime will continue.
• “Household siblings (secondary school age) of confirmed cases are advised to take daily LFD while awaiting their PCR test results and to continue to attend school (unless test is positive). This is also advised for primary school aged children but is at the discretion of the parent/guardian” At Thurlbear, we are in communication with parents regarding family cases and the impact on siblings. As stated here, the national policy is for your Thurlbear child to attend school should they be fit to do so, even if a parent/carer/sibling has COVID. We advise them to take daily LFD tests but, as it states above, this is at your discretion.
• “If unwell stay at home. If negative for COVID individuals should still wait until 24 hours post fever to go back into a setting. Colds and other non-Covid symptoms are circulating but in the first instance cardinal symptoms should be treated as possible COVID and trigger isolation and testing. This is the case even if others in the setting /group have tested negative for similar symptoms.” As a community, you have been excellent at communicating with us and the quote from SWDPH, above, reflects what has been happening at Thurlbear for some time. Thank you for your caution and communication.
• “The introduction of face coverings in communal areas such as corridors.” Although the quote focuses somewhat on secondary pupils and their movement between lessons, we will be using our face coverings in our narrow corridors and when travelling inside school as an added safety measure. As always, we will communicate this to our pupils should they ask.
• “Reduced mixing between groups of students as much as possible including consideration of pausing ‘whole school’ assemblies for the time being and any other ‘gatherings’.” A number of things to put into place for the next 2 weeks.
1. We will be moving back to online worships.
2. We will be cancelling the first 2 weeks of after school sports clubs, as these mix year groups. Refunds will be arranged in due course.
3. We will be organising Breakfast and After School Club into smaller bubbles based on year groups and into specific zones.
4. Lunchtimes will be zonal, again, with year groups in specific areas with staff.
5. All pupils are asked not to bring in items from home and this includes sweets for birthdays and football sticker books that promote sharing of cards etc.
6. Drop-offs will not change, other than encouraging adults to drop off at the gates and leave. Perhaps a good time to try out the drop-off zone with Mrs Cann?
7. Pick-up is, perhaps, the time that needs most attention. Times will remain the same for year groups, but I am asking adults, please, to wear a face covering when picking up from the playground. Our gates will open on time (our responsibility) so please wait in your cars until we open them. We will make our year group zones clear again (our responsibility) and please stand in your class zones distanced from other adults as much as is possible. Please leave the premises as soon as you collect your child. Rowan and Chestnut Class families are brilliant at collecting and going, meaning there is space left for Years 3-5 vehicles, meaning you should not need to turn up early. The bell goes at 3:30pm (3:25 for year 6) and prompt evacuation means spaces are available. Our one-way system continues to be a real success and the flow of traffic is excellent.
“Why don’t we have the staggered pick-up in cars, again? It worked very well!”
It was a huge success, but it came with a range of sacrifices. Pupils were not getting their full entitlement to educational hours, as well as a shortened lunch hour. Nor were they having a full range of Collective Worship time. It was also very hard for a lot of working families, as their working day was affected at both ends of the school day. Changing this again for 2 weeks would be very disruptive to their learning time and, if we all work together on these points above, I believe we can still succeed in being safe as well as the pupils having their full school day.
I hope that working together on this will bring about the success that we all want to see. I am aware that there are a range of views and opinions on masks, vaccines, COVID itself and the approaches to it. I care about keeping your children and my staff as safe as possible and I think these measures will help with this. Please do support us; get in touch if you have any questions.
Thank you………… from Mr Gillan