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Covid-19

January 14th 2021

Free School Meals - instead of food parcels, we sent out vouchers for supermarkets to those eligible to FSM and will continue to work this way until the Government's voucher scheme is re-instated. 

 

January 8th 2021

Dear all, 
Thank you for your support of the schools as we quickly move to a combination of online teaching and on-site teaching.   We have balanced the risks to children and staff with the requirements of government and education unions as well as individual's understandable anxieties and needs to the best of our abilities.   There will continue to be changes and updates as we go through this term and we endeavour to keep you informed along the way.
We started our mass testing for Covid-19 from 5th January.  In addition, we are conducting serial testing and this has gone very well. 
Best wishes,
Stephen Hoult-Allen

Covid Testing Collett and St Luke's Schools

Covid Testing resources for pupils:

Covid Test social story

Covid Test picture explanation

With regards to the mass testing, please rest assured that we are working hard to get this in place as soon as possible, although are constrained by when the resources and training are delivered to us. It is not a perfect system; for special schools, with around 90% of children arriving on transport at the same time, they will still need to go to class first and be called down for testing. Some mixing is inevitable in all schools that operate mass testing, but the key point is that having mass testing available is still better than no testing at all, which has been the case up to now. It is also worth noting that mass testing will be in place in special schools long before other schools, e.g. mainstream primaries - many of which are bigger than our school, who don't get access to testing until late January.

The testing process is fairly complex - having two swabbing desks operating requires 9 staff in total, each of whom need training in their particular area. This is why additional staff are needed, so as to not leave classes short-staffed. The agency staff would not have a Covid test prior to starting work, but would be offered one once available as with all staff - they are no more likely to have Covid than anyone other staff member. As a side note, each station can only process around 10 tests per hour (based on mainstream children), which helps to explain why all our children cannot all be processed instantly upon arrival.

Prevalence of Covid in our geographical areas and what this means for our schools:

It is, of course, difficult to quantify the chance of someone having Covid and being asymptomatic. It may help to know that the latest available data (from the last week of the Autumn term) shows that 3% of secondary-aged pupils tested for Covid (i.e. those that have symptoms) return a positive result.  Of course, the landscape has changed since then and cases are in their tens of thousands each day. 

Local COVID alert level framework

Click here for a free online book that supports children to understand Covid, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo)

Covid 19 Contingency Planning Safeguarding Emergency Guidance

Covid 19 - Guidelines for visitors

As we continue to try to minimise the risk of COVID-19 in all of our schools across the Blue Tangerine Federation, we ask for the support and understanding of our visitors in helping us minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

We continue to take guidance from Public Health England and taking this into account, we are now limiting access to our sites to essential visitors only. If you are unsure as to whether your proposed visit is considered essential, please email the Executive Headteacher's PA on mary.ellis@bluetangerine.herts.sch.uk. If your visit is an essential one, we would nevertheless ask that you refrain from visiting if:

  • You have travelled from or transited from another country
  • You have developed a fever (above 37.8C), lost your sense of taste and/or smell or have developed a new, continuous cough within the last seven days. 
  • Anyone in your household is required to self-isolate in accordance with Government guidelines.

Visitors to our schools should wear a face covering and wash their hands with soap and water before leaving home and once they arrive. You will also be required to sanitise your hands on arrival.

For the avoidance of potential embarrassment, we would also like to advise you that our schools are currently operating a ‘no handshake’ policy for all members of it's community.

We apologise for not being able to give you our usual warm welcome, but we must take the current situation very seriously and look after the welfare of our pupils and staff. If you have any questions, please contact the member of staff you were due to visit.

Open Mornings - Tours of the school - temporarily suspended but see our website's virtual tour!

Does your child have Covid-19 symptoms?

What are Covid-19 symptoms?

A raised temperature

A loss of smell and taste

A continuous, new cough

  • We have spoken to PHE about the difference between a cough and a Coronavirus cough as we expect coughs and colds over the Autumn and Winter months . They advised that: 'if the pupil can't stop coughing for up to an  hour (continuous) up to 3 times a day, then it is likely to be a Coronavirus  cough and they will need to self isolate and have a test.'  Coughing doesn't seem to solve the tickle.

Children with symptoms should not come to school but instead, get a test.

When the test result is known then school should be informed.

A positive Covid-19 test:  

  • If the result is positive, the child stays at home to self-isolate for 10 days minimum.  In addition, the child must not be in school 48hrs after the last symptoms have shown.  Depending on the severity, this may be several days.
  • You notify school.   
  • School informs Public Health England's Local Health Protection Teams (PHE).
  • PHE starts the process of track and tracing and tells the school what to do next in terms of closing bubbles/zones

A negative Covid-19 test: 

  • If the result of the child and family members is negative, the child returns to school.
  • If the child is negative but someone in their home has tested positive then, they self-isolate for 14 days as the virus may incubate for this amount of time. 

The government is clear that schools are not expected to take action such as closing down classes, bubbles/zones or taxi groups when a pupil or staff member is self-isolating at home. If that pupil or member of staff subsequently receives a positive test result, following government guidance the school will seek the advice of the local health protection team and relevant parents/carers will be informed accordingly.

What if other children in my child's taxi or class/zone have symptoms?

  • The child with symptoms will follow the guidance above - not come to school and get tested.
  • You will be informed if we have a positive Covid-19 test if your child has come into close contact with the child/adult.  In these cases, we will be undertaking Serial Covid Testing - testing for the next seven days for those who have given permission to do so.  For those children who have not got testing permission/ those who cannot do the testing, then the child will need to isolate for 10 days.
  • We will not let families know as a matter of course that children are awaiting test results and will not share negative test results with families.

What if my child only starts to show Covid-19 symptoms during the school day?

Should your child have symptoms during the school day, you will be asked to collect them straight away from a 'quarantined' area of the school, where staff will be waiting with the child, in the same room. You should immediately get your child and your household tested as well and let the school know the outcome.

Covid-19 Incubation Period

An example of the challenges we face with incubation periods of the virus:

Day 0 - Hannah was exposed to coronavirus

Day 5 - Hannah got tested and was negative

Day 7 - Thinking she didn’t have coronavirus, Hannah attended school, and was in close contact with 17 people.

Day 9 - Hannah developed symptoms and tested positive. She was contagious for 48 hours before her symptoms started, and exposed 17 people to coronavirus. These 17 people now all need to self-isolate for 14 days.

This is why its so important to self-isolate for the allocated time and to only book a test if you develop symptoms.

Self-Isolating - Quarantining

  • Self-Isolating means staying at home; quarantining. 
  • Your child should not come to school and you should not go to work. 
  • As we enter the normal cold and flu season, there is an expectation that we will see a number of pupils self-isolating with symptoms that are associated with Covid-19, and even more who are self-isolating as a result of someone in their household having symptoms. 

Social Distancing Challenges for Kids & how to help

Free School Meals during Holidays. DfE Update 9/11/20

DfE (9/11/20): New winter package to provide further support for children and families

Yesterday, the Government announced a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme. This funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills and will cover the period to the end of March 2021.

Local authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December 2020.

This scheme will allow local authorities to support the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays. Local authorities understand which groups need support, and are best placed to ensure appropriate holiday support is provided, which is why they will distribute the funds, rather than schools, who will continue providing meals for disadvantaged children during term-time.

The Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018, will also be expanded across England next year. This programme will cover Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021, and will be available to children in every local authority in England

A Staff Member's Personal Story of Covid-19

Karen Thorp, one of our senior teachers at The Collett School was in a serious condition with Covid-19 this summer.  Here, she was asked to write an account for Addenbrooks Hospital and has given us permission to share her story on our website.   If you have a story you wish to share, please let us know; mary.ellis@bluetangerine.herts.sch.uk.  Click:  Karen's Covid-19 Story

 

Covid-19 Resources for Parents & Carers

Covid-19 Prevention - Hygiene and Face Coverings

Good Hygiene and Health (Public Health England 2020)

Washing Hands: September 2020

Face Coverings: September 2020

Face-coverings are allowed in our schools, dependent on the child and parents' wishes but not in the formal learning environment of the classroom.  If desired, they can wear a visor in the classroom.  These cannot be shared and the child will require 'training' on how to keep themselves safe using a visor/ other face-covering.

Some staff will be wearing visors in class and can wear other face-coverings around the school (breaks, transitions etc.)

How to wear a face covering

An interesting article about wearing masks from the Journal of General Internal Medicine

‘Masks do more than protect others during COVID-19: Reducing the inoculum of SARS-CoV-2’.

This article unravels how wearing masks reduce the viral dose for the wearer, leading to more mild and asymptomatic infection. The journal article goes on to suggest that wide-spread wearing of masks could lead to greater community-level immunity and slower spread whilst we wait for a vaccine.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-06067-8

Schools' Risk Assessments

Covid-19 Risk Assessment: January 2021

 

Covid-19 School Risk Assessments: October 2020

 

Covid-19 School Risk Assessments: September 2020

 

Covid-19 School Risk Assessments: June 2020

Covid-19 Bereavement

HCC has a page of information regarding Covid-19 bereavement and can be found here:

Covid-19 Bereavement

How to use face coverings