Return to College
Dear parents and carers
Happy New Year. I hope you have all enjoyed a restful and relaxing holiday although inevitably some of you will no doubt have had your plans altered by COVID. Whatever your personal experience may have been I hope you all remain well and are looking forward optimistically to 2022. I am anticipating a year where hopefully we can learn to live with the presence of COVID in a more routine and less disruptive way.
This letter contains updated COVID-19 related guidance in advance of students returning to College tomorrow, Wednesday 5 January 2022.
Students have been asked to take a lateral flow device test at home on Tuesday 4 January before returning to College on Wednesday 5 January. Please report the result to the College via the website and to the NHS. All students with consent will also be tested once on site during the first 4 days of term according to the planned testing rota, a copy of which can be found on our website here. Student COVID related absence will continue to be monitored daily to support the swift identification of any on site transmission. Students who have symptoms or who test positive on a LFD test should isolate, arrange a PCR test and notify the College.
While there are obvious drawbacks to the use of face coverings in classrooms, the government has made it clear that the Omicron variant poses a significant additional risk to education with the potential for further widespread disruption of learning for young people. In order to reduce transmission and to help ensure that children remain in school, the reintroduction of face coverings in classrooms for students in Year 7 to Year 13 will commence from the start of term on Wednesday 5 January 2022. Face coverings in communal areas within College and on school transport will remain. The government has stated that it will review the requirement for face masks in classrooms for students by Wednesday 26 January. Visitors to College will be required to wear masks. Face mask exemptions for students and visitors will remain as before; parents and carers should inform the relevant House team regarding student exemptions.
The government have asked Headteachers to prepare for the possibility of high levels of staff absence caused by the prevalence of the Omicron variant. While we will all continue to do our very best to minimise the impact of staff absence on students, there is a possibility that some year groups may have to be sent home for short periods of time to learn remotely if staff absence reaches an unsustainable level. Staff absence levels are monitored daily to inform this. We are currently scheduled for a full opening to all students as planned on Wednesday 5 January.
A summary of the latest government guidance on symptoms, testing, self-isolation and close contacts is outlined below:
If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. You should arrange a PCR test as soon as possible. If this PCR test result is positive, you must continue to self-isolate. The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of a new continuous cough, and/or a high temperature, and/or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell. If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms, but you have a positive PCR test result, you must stay at home and self-isolate.
People who are fully vaccinated, or children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for 7 days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.
If you have been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, you are less likely to become severely ill if you catch COVID-19. You are also less likely to spread COVID-19 to other people, but it is still possible for this to happen. Therefore:
- if you are aged 18 years 6 months or over and you are not fully vaccinated, and you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you are legally required to stay at home and self-isolate
- if you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months, and you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you are not legally required to self-isolate. However, you are strongly advised to take an LFD test every day for 7 days, and to self-isolate and get a PCR test if any of these LFD test results is positive or you develop symptoms at any time.
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 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. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education setting from day 8.
The full stay at home guidance is here stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Thank you for everything you are doing as families to help keep the College environment safe for us all.