Dear Parent/Carer

Phased Return to the Academy / Important Information

I hope that you are all safe and well, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parents and carers for their patience and support during this latest lockdown. Student engagement in online learning has been outstanding and this is in no small part down to the encouragement and support provided at home. I write to set out the arrangements for welcoming every child back to the Academy from Monday 8th March 2021 on a phased return.

 

Phased Return and Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Testing Schedule

As you are already aware, when returning to school students will be offered three Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests spaced three to five working days apart (minimum three days and this does not include weekends). Following the three initial tests, students will collect their ‘test at home’ kits and start testing at home on a regular basis.

The government has given schools the flexibility to decide how best to deliver testing on a phased return basis, from Monday 8th March 2021, depending on their circumstances. Therefore, our time frame for testing and return to face to face learning is as follows: Date Testing/ Time Home (Online) Learning Return to/in school (face to face learning) Friday 05 March

All parents/carers that have given consent for their child/children to undertake lateral flow testing will receive an appointment via the email provided on the consent form.

 

Face Coverings

All protective measures set out in September 2020 will continue to apply. In addition, the government are now also recommending that face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons. As you can well appreciate social distancing is not possible within our building and therefore we are asking for all students to wear marks both in communal areas and in classrooms in the hope that we can protect each other and help keep community transmission to a minimum. We fully understand that some students and also staff may find this difficult, so please contact me personally on 01782 833500 or at so that we can discuss the best option.

 

Attendance to School after Monday 8th March 2021

Whilst we understand this may cause some of you anxiety, the government has made school attendance mandatory for all students from Monday 8th March 2021 (depending on their first day as outlined above). The usual rules on school attendance will apply and we look forward to welcoming all students back to school and would strongly encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible to discuss any specific concerns that you may have. We will endeavor to put bespoke arrangements into place to meet your family’s needs and will work with you to find a positive solution. For any questions or concerns about attendance please contact jo.huxley@thistleyhoughacademy.org.uk
The advice for students who have been confirmed as clinically extremely vulnerable (having received a shielding letter) is to shield and stay at home as much as possible. If your child falls into this group, please can you contact the Academy to enable us to plan accordingly until their return to face to face education.
The school understands that many students may have experienced adversity during this most recent lockdown, and as a result we will continue to offer a wide range of support. Tutorial procedures and the wider subject curriculum have been planned to help students to rebuild friendships and social engagement to equip them to respond to issues linked to Covid-19 and to improve their physical and mental well-being. If you are concerned about your child/children’s well-being please contact their form-tutor or Head of Year in the first instance.
Timings and Organisation of the Day (reminder)
Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday

Zone/Floor Year Group Start/End Times Entrance
Floor 1 Year 11 09:30 – 15:20 Student Entrance – off Newcastle Lane
Floor 2 Year 8 and Year 9 09:00 – 14:50 Door A – off the main yard
Floor 3 Year 7 and Year 10 08:30 – 14:20 Main Entrance – off Thistley Hough

Wednesday Zone/Floor Year Group Start/End Times Entrance

Zone/Floor Year Group Start/End Times Entrance
Floor 1 Year 11 09:30 – 15:10 Student Entrance – off Newcastle Lane
Floor 2 Year 8 and Year 9 09:00 – 14:40 Door A – off the main yard
Floor 3 Year 7 and Year 10 08:30 – 14:10 Main Entrance – off Thistley Hough

As since September 2020, on each floor the students will be ‘bubbled’ into year groups with separate classrooms, breakout spaces and toilets. Staff will operate across the two year groups but will maintain social distancing as advised. Student movement will be kept to a minimum as staff will move between the classes, thus limiting use of corridors and wherever possible students must arrive at school just prior to the allocated start times.
Break and lunch times will continue to be staggered, allowing students to remain within their particular year group bubble. Please remind students that drinks they purchase to bring to school must be in plastic bottles and these should not be ‘energy’ or ‘fizzy’ drinks. To avoid the risk of infection, we are asking students to continue to bring their own water bottle filled each day.

 

Health and Safety

In line with public health advice to minimise Covid-19 risks, the school has reviewed its health and safety risk assessments and updated plans for the full March 2021 reopening using the system of controls set out below:
• a requirement that people who are ill stay at home.
• robust hand and respiratory hygiene.
• enhanced cleaning arrangements, including extra cleaning staff on site each day.
• active engagement with NHS Test and Trace.
• a formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and to minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable.
In line with the guidance, I would like to reiterate that students must not enter the school site if they are displaying any of the symptoms of Coronavirus (following the COVID-19 guidance for households with possible Coronavirus infection which can be accessed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

 

Expectations

Our expectations of the students remain exactly the same as they did prior to lockdown. All students need to attend school every day, arrive on time wearing the correct uniform, carrying the appropriate equipment, ready to learn.

As throughout the Autumn Term students are expected to follow the school’s Behaviour for Learning Policy and to uphold the control measures in place to keep everyone safe. Sanctions, including detention, internal and external exclusion remain in place. The school will remind all students of the expectations and the consequences for poor behaviour (including failure to uphold the control measures) immediately on their return to school. The school will work with identified students who may struggle to re-engage in learning, providing support for overcoming any barriers to behaviour so that all students can reintegrate back into school life quickly. Please contact the following members of staff to discuss any concerns that you may have about your child and their return to school:
• Year 7: jill.brown@thistleyhoughacademy.org.uk
• Years 8 and 9: chris.budrys@thistleyhoughacademy.org.uk
• Years 10 and 11: simon.harrison@thistleyhoughacademy.org.uk
I would like to thank you sincerely for your continued support throughout what can only be described as one of the most challenging times for the Academy, but more so, for students and parents/carers. Your child/children have been nothing short of amazing and your support has been invaluable in enabling them and us, navigate our way through this last 12 months. Thank you!

Yours sincerely

Jayne Schofield
Principal

Frequently Asked Questions – Lateral Flow Device (LTD) Testing
1. Do all students have to test?
Testing is voluntary and individuals will be allowed to attend school even if they decide not to take part in testing. However, we would like to encourage everyone to join in the asymptomatic testing programme to help break transmission links by identifying those that may be carrying the virus unknowingly. Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in this programme or not, should book a free NHS test and follow government self-isolation guidance until the results of their test are known.

2. Why can’t students start testing at home immediately?
It is important that initially students are supervised whilst swabbing to make sure they are doing it correctly. This is why testing will initially take place on-site.

3. Can students swab themselves?
Yes, in an Asymptomatic Testing Site all students can swab themselves if they are able to. When testing at home, children should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary.

4. What happens if a student struggles to perform the test?
If a student administers the test and finds it difficult then there are Testing Assistants on hand to provide support. They are well-trained and will administer the test for the student if they request it. If a student feels as though they cannot complete the test after the support of a Testing Assistant, there will be no requirement for them to complete it and their parent/ carer will be contacted.

5. What happens if a student tests positive following the asymptomatic test?
If a student tests positive for Covid-19, they must self-isolate for 10 days from the day after they tested positive and we must be informed immediately

6. What happens if a student is unable to test themselves at home but have opted in for testing?
We will retain a “small” testing site for those unable to test at home. Please inform the school if you are unable to administer the home test.