Return to School information from Monday 8th March 2021
Dear Parents and Pupils
Return to School following National Lockdown from Monday 8th March 2021
I wish to thank you for your support and understanding during this incredibly difficult period of national lockdown. Whilst this year did not start as we had expected, I am very pleased that Kingsford Community School was in the position to provide live lessons immediately at the start of the school term following the lockdown announcement. I am incredibly impressed with the very high level of pupil engagement with 'Kingsford At Home' our remote learning provision and with how high the rate of pupil attendance has been, with a whole school average attendance rate of 95%. I wish to thank you for your support and the very positive feedback that so many of you have shared with the school to commend the school’s support and lesson arrangements. The pupils at Kingsford are a credit to young people and as their parents you should rightly feel very proud of them.
As you will know in the last few days, the government has announced that all schools are to re-open to pupils from Monday 8th March 2021 and pupil attendance will be mandatory. My staff and I are delighted at the prospect of Kingsford pupils returning to the school site to continue their studies. As has been the case throughout this pandemic, the details of the government guidance which follow the news headlines, often present the most significant of operational challenges; carrying out 3 Lateral Flow Tests for our 1500+ pupils on-site, prior to them having regular lessons at the school site from Monday 8th March, is no exception!
The DfE guidance (22nd February 2021), is that all pupils in Years 7 - 11 should have three Lateral Flow tests on-site, with the result recorded both at School and with the NHS before returning to lessons in the classroom during the first week and a half from Monday 8th March 2021: “All secondary school and college pupils will take three COVID-19 tests as they return to the classroom from the 8 March at existing school testing facilities. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to test pupils over that week to enable their return to the classroom. After the initial programme of three tests in school, pupils will be provided with 2 rapid tests to use each week at home”. The school now requires your co-operation to implement this government guidance.
In practical terms, many secondary school pupils across the country will not return to learning at the school site on Monday 8th March 2021, as schools need time to work their way through the Lateral Flow testing of pupils. Kingsford is no exception to this. Mindful of making the very most of the limited days we have in School before the Easter break, we have developed a ‘hybrid’ timetable for pupils with both on-site and off-site remote learning, until all pupils have had their three Lateral Flow Tests. The Lateral Flow Test timetable for each Year Group can be found in the Parent and Pupil Guidance document. It is essential that you read this document very carefully so that you are fully aware of the arrangements for the return to school, from Monday 8th March 2021. On page 6 of the aforementioned Parent and Pupil Guidance document, detailed information is provided about the Year Group plan for the three Lateral Flow tests. At the end of this letter, there is also a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to give you more information and respond to any queries.
Thus, from Monday 8th March 2021 the school will be implementing hybrid learning arrangements for a week and a half to enable the testing requirements to be fulfilled. This means that your child will receive some lessons at the school site and some lessons remotely at home, until all pupils across the school have undertaken 3 Lateral Flow Tests. You will notice from the Parent and Pupil Guidance document that on the days when your child has a Lateral Flow Test, they will return home immediately after taking the test to continue with remote learning for that day. This is so that should any pupil’s test be positive, a PCR test at a Covid Testing Site can be arranged, to avoid the pupil returning to the school site and possibly spreading Covid 19 infection, if, they indeed have Coronavirus.
I wish to re-state the crucial importance of regular mass testing for everyone's safety at Kingsford Community School and in the wider community. Whether that Lateral Flow testing is here in School, or at home every Lateral Flow test taken underpins the more comprehensive Covid 19 controls we have here at School. Whilst testing is optional and requires consent, choosing to opt-out of testing that will help people to stay safe including for your own and other families, is a decision we would ask you to consider very carefully. We hope that you will give your consent for your child to participate in the Lateral Flow testing, as this can be done safely within School and will support pupils to feel comfortable about being in school as well as prepared for the home-testing which will follow.
In response to potential queries, 'Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)' are given at the end of this letter, however, should you have any other questions please contact the school by email in the first instance. Meanwhile, we also look forward to helping your child to rebuild a sense of normality as we continue to empower your child to flourish in their learning and progress at Kingsford Community School.
Joan Deslandes OBE
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How will my child access and leave the school site?
A. Arrival is strictly through the front entrance of the school only. All pupils will depart the site via the Assembly Hall doors of the Main Entrance?
Q. Are parents allowed onsite?
A. No, we can only permit pupils onsite and we ask that parents do not assemble close to the main entrance doors
Q. Will my child have to queue to take the test?
A. The school has structured the testing schedules to minimise queuing times for tests, and long queues are not anticipated. However, to err on the side of caution, please ensure that your child is dressed for the weather on the day. In the case of hot weather, please ensure they bring a water bottle and sun cream.
Q. I have more than one child in more than one year group. Can I bring them together?
A. Yes, siblings can arrive together, provided one of them has arrived for a time slot they have been allocated.
Q. Can my children travel on public transport to School?
A. The school is asking that pupils walk or cycle to School were possible and that public transport is the last option considered.
Q. How long will the Lateral Flow Test take?
A. The school has given a generous window for pupils to arrive by year group and once seated at the swab bay the test should take no longer than five minutes. We do not know the precise numbers of people that will arrive, but with several bays available we would envisage the full process, with queueing, should take up to 30 minutes.
Q. Will parking be available at the school site, whilst my child is having their Lateral Flow Test?
A. No, but we do expect congestion around the vicinity of the School. Where possible, please ask your child(ren) to walk or cycle. If you do need to drive to school, please park at a suitable distance away from the school and encourage your child(ren) to walk. Please remind your child to follow the national guidance to maintain social distancing and please can parents also maintain social distancing and not socialise with other parents.
Q. My child has tested positive within the last 90 days, should they get tested?
A. Guidance is evolving as more scientific information is received. At time of writing, undertaking routine testing is optional for those that have tested positive. If you do undertake routine testing (school or home test kits) and you receive a positive result, you will need to follow the national guidance and self-isolate, along with other members of your household. The school must be informed of this once home testing commences from 15th March 2021. More information will follow regarding home testing.
Q. What happens if my child is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive?
A. Our school Health and Safety team is in continuous dialogue with the Local Health Protection Team with regards to serial testing to keep children in School. At the time of writing, their advice is still that pupils will need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact. Should that decision be reversed, the school will send a communication to all parents.
Q. What if my child has been vaccinated, do they still need to be tested?
A. We know that a number of the pupils have been vaccinated due to underlying health conditions. Please do let us know if this is the case on your consent form. Currently, testing is required for those that have received one or two vaccination doses.
Q. Do test results get affected by brushing teeth, drinking water?
A. Avoid eating or drinking half an hour before the test. A small amount of water is acceptable. There is unlikely to be an adverse impact of brushing teeth prior to testing but it might be prudent to wait a while before testing.
Q. Are the swabs latex free?
A. The manufacturer has confirmed that Innova swabs are latex free.
Q. Does the Lateral Flow test contain any harmful substances and are there any precautions for dealing with spillages?
A. Extraction solution which comes with the Lateral Flow test kit contains the following components: NA2HPO4 (disodium hydrogen phosphate), NaH2PO4 (sodium phosphate monobasic), NaCl (Sodium Chloride). These components do not have any hazard labels associated with them, and the manufacturer states that there are no hazards anticipated if individuals follow the instructions for use.
Q. Do the Lateral Flow tests contain animal products, or have they been tested on animals?
A. All of the antibodies are necessarily generated from animal cells. While we do not test any of these products on animals, nor are animals harmed in the development process, the antibodies used for the test reaction are derived using an animal cell in the laboratory. The T line for a positive test is derived by reaction between the sample as it flows to the membrane (thin paper like material inside the device) which is coated with these antibodies. It is therefore highly unlikely for there to be any direct contact between the person being tested and the animal material itself. However, we want to make sure that the people undertaking the test make an informed choice about this.
Q. Are the Lateral Flow tests Vegan?
A. The monoclonal antibody technology present in our lateral flow devices are generated from animal cells. During development, at no time have any component parts been tested on animals.
Q. Are the Lateral Flow tests Halal or Kosher? No animal products have been used in the production of the swabs. The swab is the only material with which the individual will come into direct contact. The individual using the test will not come into direct contact with any materials made from animal products.