Significant increase in Covid cases; return of face coverings
This week, like other schools in the county, we have seen a significant increase in the number of pupils and staff testing positive on Lateral Flow Devices (LFD). On Friday 8 October 2021 we had 12 confirmed active cases, on Monday 11 October this rose to a total of 34 and again to 42 on Tuesday 12 October. The numbers increased again on Wednesday 13 October 2021.
While many pupils have subsequently been confirmed as positive following PCR tests, others, in spite of multiple positives on LFD tests, have received negative PCR results. We appreciate this has led to a degree of confusion. One pupil who did two separate PCRs, one in person and one postal, received conflicting outcomes.
We have been advised to treat any positive as a positive case and, therefore, request that pupils and staff testing positive on Lateral Flow Devices self-isolate for 10 days. This should help us break the cycle of transmission before half term. Unfortunately, we also have five members of staff who have tested positive for COVID and we are concerned to ensure that we are not back in the situation where we may have to close the school to one or more year groups because we do not have the sufficient number of teachers in school to cover the curriculum. We are already experiencing difficulty in securing supply staff.
With so many cases in all year groups across the school it is not possible for us to track and trace each one, nor is there a discernible pattern within year groups. For some pupils, transmission is likely to be from a family member; others may have been in close contact with someone at an event outside of school such as the local mop or an asymptomatic person in school.
Since September 2021, all schools are expected to have an Outbreak Management Plan. In our Outbreak Management Plan, which is based on a template from the local authority’s COVID response team, we identify the thresholds, reflected in the number of confirmed and active ‘positive’ cases, that will lead us to reinstate our COVID-19 preventative measures.
Regrettably, both Stages 2 (10-30 confirmed cases) and 3 (30-50 confirmed cases) have been reached this week.
Therefore, from WEDNESDAY 13 OCTOBER 2021 we have reintroduced the following:
ALL pupils and staff are expected to
Furthermore, from MONDAY 18 OCTOBER 2021 ALL pupils and staff will be expected to
We fully appreciate some pupils and staff may want to wear face coverings with immediate effect, but also feel it appropriate to give a period of notice to ensure everyone is prepared for the change. We anticipate this will be for a short period of time, but at least until we see a reduction in the number of active and confirmed cases across the school.
We appreciate none of this is ideal and we will continue to review these measures against the number of confirmed cases we have at any one time. We hope to withdraw some of them after half term and will advise pupils, parents and staff accordingly.
However, we are determined to do everything we can to continue to provide access to education and our extra-curricular and enrichment activities. We do not want our pupils to miss out. Where these take place, we are asking that wherever possible they do so within year group ‘bubbles’ and, where they potentially involve audiences, such as our Young Musician Competition and Year 11 GCSE Drama performances, we are asking that these events are carefully risk assessed and appropriate measures are put in place, such as ensuring the venue is well ventilated, audience numbers are limited and audience members wear face coverings.
We encourage everyone in our school community to test themselves twice weekly using the lateral flow device test kits distributed by the school and ask that any pupil with symptoms of COVID-19 to stay at home and book a PCR test at the earliest opportunity. We ask that parents continue to report all absences to the school and notify us immediately of any positive test results, lateral flow or PCR.
We thank our pupils, families and staff for their patience, understanding and cooperation.
We strongly recommend that anyone travelling to/from school on public transport wear a face covering, to help protect everyone, including the drivers.