Changes following the government announcement of intention to move to Stage 4 of the removal of Covid Restrictions.
As you are no doubt aware, the government announced yesterday a series of intended actions for the removal of Covid related restrictions. In addition, Mr Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education) provided an outline of changes to school guidance as of 19th July and 16th August.
The information contained in this letter sets out key elements and the impact it will have at Ashgate Primary School. There is a lot of guidance available, but I will attempt to be as precise as I can to avoid ambiguity.
Face masks will become optional for staff and parents at the school as of 19th July.
Whilst some families may wish to continue to wear them as a precautionary measure, they will not be required either indoors or outdoors at school. The school will of course respect the wishes of anyone continuing to do so and support them in their positive action.
Staggered starts to the school day:
These will remain until the end of this term. Whilst they can be lifted for the last 3 days before the summer break, this would require a significant shift in planning and organisation for some working families, those with fixed child care arrangements or requiring alternative transport. Therefore, in line with Gavin Williamson’s statement to the House of Commons yesterday, I will maintain this measure until the end of term on July 21st (extending it for 3 days).
Removal of ‘bubbles’ for Track and Trace (closures of groups)
Bubbles are not required in schools after 19th July; however, track and trace isolations are not lifted for under 18s until 16th August. This creates an overlap that may result in negative consequences.
Therefore, in order to reduce the risk of unnecessary bubble closures just prior to the end of term, I will continue to group children in bubbles until the end of term, July 21st (extending it for three days).
A premature end to grouping children could close up to 6 classes should there be a single case of Covid 19 between 19th and 21st July. This is a risk not worth taking in light of families looking forward to taking a summer break.
As of August 16th, the requirement for children to isolate following a close contact with a positive Covid 19 case will end. Responsibility for reporting and informing close proximity contacts will shift form schools to the NHS Track and Trace systems.
Close proximity contacts under the age of 18 will not be required to isolate unless they have symptoms – likewise, adults who have received both inoculations (jabs) will not be required to isolate unless they too have symptoms.
Anyone testing positive for an LFD test will continue to be required to book a PCR test and isolate if this is found to be positive. However, close proximity isolations will no longer be required for anyone under the age of 18 or adults who have received both inoculations. This means that if a positive case is identified in school there will be no requirement for other pupils to isolate unless they themselves develop symptoms.
Please note, it remains important for parents to inform us of a positive test as this is recorded on the school register. To date, it has not been confirmed that non-attendance as a result of a positive Covid test outcome will be counted in the absence figures.
A shift to normality?
Clearly, the steps announced yesterday are a shift to normality and we look forward to children returning in September to a more familiar way of working and moving forward to address need.
I must emphasis that the school is subject to any further announcements made by the government which may in turn supersede what has been shared today. I do not anticipate this to be the case, but one should always recognise that intent can often be side-tracked by changes in circumstance. As it has been throughout the last 16 months, I will update you with any further details, amendments or notices.