Update for Parents & Carers

Return to full opening from Monday 8th March 2021 (Please Read)

Dear Parents/Carers

The Prime Minister announced on Monday 22 February, that the Government has set out its plan for the return of all pupils to schools and colleges, as part of the roadmap for leaving lockdown.

All schools will therefore return to face-to-face education on Monday 8 March.

Pupils who are self-isolating because they are following public health advice should not attend school. Those pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) are also currently advised not to attend whilst shielding remains in place. Any pupils not attending their setting for this reason will continue to receive remote education.

Pupils and staff who live with someone who is CEV, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

School attendance will therefore become mandatory for all pupils from Monday 8th March.

Whilst we have continued to provide education onsite during the lockdown, it is vital for all pupils to now return to their Centres to minimise, as far as possible, the longer-term impact of the pandemic on their education, wellbeing and wider development. Whilst we appreciate there will be some anxiety around this, we will continue to implement the procedures we had in place prior to the lockdown to keep all members of our school community safe.

The usual rules on school attendance will therefore apply to all pupils including:

• parents’ duty to secure their child’s regular attendance at school

• the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’          codes of conduct

Asymptomatic Testing (Lateral Flow Devices)

Asymptomatic cases comprise up to a third of all coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, and rapidly identifying and containing them will help stop individuals who carry the infection unknowingly spreading it. Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFD) support the identification of people who are infectious but do not have any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

During the week commencing 8 March, secondary school age pupils will be offered up to 3 LFD tests at their Centre. This will be followed by 2 tests every week that will need to be administered at home. If you would like your child to undertake these tests, you will need to register your child in this process through this link by Wednesday 3rd March.

Testing is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless informed consent has been given by the appropriate person and the young person is willing to be tested.

Only children whose parents/carers have confirmed their involvement and returned completed consent forms will be tested the week of 8th March. Please return the consent form attached to your child’s Centre as soon as possible as well as registering them via the link above.

Staff or pupils with a positive LFD test result will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance. They will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result if the test was done at home. Those with a negative LFD test result can continue to attend school as normal.

Symptomatic testing

The asymptomatic testing programme does not replace the current testing policy for those with symptoms. Anyone with symptoms (even if they recently had a negative LFD test result), should still self-isolate immediately according to government guidelines. Those with symptoms are also expected to order a test online or visit a test site to take a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to check if they have the virus.

System of controls

We know that the predominant new variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible however, PHE advice remains that the way to control this virus is the same, even with the current new variants. This means that at our Centres we will continue to do the following things.

  • Minimise contact with individuals who are required to self-isolate by ensuring they do not attend the setting. 
  • Ensure face coverings are used in recommended circumstances. Staff and pupils in secondary schools are now advised to wear face coverings in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained as a temporary extra measure.
    In accordance with advice from PHE, children and young people aged 11 and over should wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school. This does not apply to people who are exempt from wearing a face covering on public transport.
  • Ensure everyone is advised to clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual.
  • Ensure good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  • Maintain enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.
  • Consider how to minimise contact across the site and maintain social distancing wherever possible.
  • Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.

I am also pleased to report that Birmingham special schools were part of the first cohort of staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Most of our staff have now received their first dose of the vaccine, as part of our concerted effort to support the fight against the pandemic.

School “bubbles”

Just before the Christmas break, we reviewed our bubbles model and implemented discrete bubbles within each teaching centre to minimise the number of contacts each child was having and to reduce the number of people being asked to isolate in the case of a positive case. We will be reverting to these models until the end of the term, with the view of possibly allowing greater movement and mixing in the Summer term in line with the national easing of lockdown restrictions.

As we now move cautiously but optimistically into the next phase of recovery, I would like to reiterate our thanks to you all for your continued patience and understanding. Your children will always be at the heart of our decision making, and as we welcome back all young people across all our settings, our priorities around supporting their mental health and wellbeing whilst delivering excellent learning opportunities remain the same.

Thank you for your continued support.

Yours faithfully

Tosin Gabriel
Vice Principal – Head of Parkway, Northfield and Dovedale Centres

Centre Leader contact details