Face coverings and other factors
As you will be aware following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday 19 January 2022, many of the 'Plan B' COVID measures and restrictions are being lifted nationally and further steps are planned from Thursday 27 January 2022. The Prime Minister expressly mentioned removing the requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face coverings in their classrooms with immediate effect and relaxing this further on Thursday 27 January when it will no longer be necessary for pupils to wear face covering in corridors or indoor communal areas.
We are very grateful for the response of our pupils, who, at our encouragement, have continued to wear face coverings.
Unfortunately, while infection rates nationally appear to be on the decline, we have seen a second spike here at Cirencester Deer Park School, and, although currently less than the numbers we saw in October 2021, they are still relatively high. We are very grateful to the parents of the 50 pupils who were absent on Monday 24 January as a direct result of COVID, all had tested positive either on LFDs or PCRs and were, therefore, required to self-isolate. This is approximately 5% of our pupils: in Year 11, positive cases peaked at 10% of the year group on Monday 17 January and to minimise the risk of further transmission, we re-tested all pupils present and for whom we had consent in the afternoon.
Our new Attendance and Support Officer, Miss Johnson, is carefully monitoring attendance with Mr Bellamy, Assistant Head. To help her determine and clarify (for parents and tutors) our pupils’ periods of isolation, we are now asking for a copy of the advice that comes with a positive test result. You will be aware that the Government guidance has changed: dropping the period of time a person is required to self-isolate from the original 10 to 7 and now 5 days, subject to testing negative twice, once on Day 5 and then again on Day 6. If you continue to test positive you must continue to self-isolate until two negative tests are recorded on consecutive days. Please note that the day you test positive on a LFD is Day 0. We are very grateful to pupils and their parents for taking these precautionary measures.
We are also seeing an increase in the number of our school staff testing positive for COVID-19. So far we have been able to minimise the impact of teacher absence on our pupils by deploying our cover supervisors and members of the school’s leadership team and calling back teachers who have previously taught at the school or agency staff. However, as other schools are in similar positions, the availability of cover teachers is uncertain. We are monitoring this closely and should the situation become critical we may, regrettably, need to close the school to a year group. However, this would very much be a last resort and we would of course seek and advice and operate within the guidance for schools.
At Deer Park we continue to review our Outbreak Management Plan to ensure we are doing all we can to minimise the risk of transmission in school:
However, we also recognise the need to get things as closely back to normal as possible and after half term, from Monday 28 February, we plan to re-introduce our year group assemblies in the Main Hall and begin to welcome parents and families back into school for key events, not least for our production of Matilda The Musical Jr which is scheduled to take place from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 March. Mrs Gleed, Head of Expressive Arts, is working with us to complete a risk assessment and we currently plan to follow the guidance for theatres nationally: our audiences will be encouraged to wear face coverings and the venue will be well ventilated. Tickets will go on sale soon.
If pupils are required to self-isolate and are well enough to do so, they should access their learning through MS Teams. They are expected to check their school emails, Show My Homework and MS Teams every day. We are currently reviewing our Remote Learning Plan and should we need to close the school to one or more year groups, pupils will be provided with synchronous and asynchronous learning just as they were during period of lockdown in 2020 and 2021.
Pupils can access their email, Show My Homework and MS Teams via RMUnify, accessible via the cloud icon and the quick links menu (top right) on our website www.deerparkschool.net. You need your school email address (email@example.com) and password to log on.
SHOW MY HOMEWORK
All new pupils, and their parents, are given individual logins for Show My Homework. Most pupils install the Satchel One (previously SMHW) app on their phones. Show My Homework is also available from the quick links menu (top right) on our website www.deerparkschool.net or from our RM Unify launch page. Need help logging on?
MS Teams is available with an Office 365 account, which all our pupils have access to, free of charge, whilst they are a pupil at Deer Park. Pupils should log on to RM Unify to download Office 365 and to access Teams. Currently, teachers are uploading resources to MS Teams so that pupils who are isolating can keep up with their peers. Pupils should look for the Teams names that correspond with the names of their normal classes, for example, English for 7LI is EN7LI.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.