Dear Parents and Carers,
Thank you for all your patience and support whilst we try to navigate through this difficult time. So far, we have had a number of confirmed Covid 19 cases in the upper school community. Each one has presented us with a different challenge and we currently have a group of Year 10, 11 and 13 students and staff self–isolating The infection rate is still climbing in North Kent and I think we have to prepare ourselves for a disruptive few weeks in the lead up to Christmas.
Firstly, I want to reassure you regarding our approach and answer a number of questions regarding the actions we are taking:
When we receive notification of a positive Covid 19 test a team of Leigh staff follow an established protocol. I have tried to summarise this below:
- Every student who tests positive will have a telephone consultation with a member of our Senior Leadership Team. The purpose of this consultation is to establish when the student tested positive, when they became symptomatic and identify close contacts before, during and after the academy day. The reason why we ask the date that a student became symptomatic is that we are required to count back 48 hours from this date, as this is the infectious period.
- Using a positive student‘s timetable and seating plans, students who have been in ‘close or direct contact are identified. We usually look at the 48 hours since the student became symptomatic and this will mean looking at approximately 11 classes (when we include tutor time).
- If we have multiple cases within a ‘bubble‘ (year group) then we will look carefully at ‘in academy‘ transmission and how many groups are affected. If the spread is wide then we may make the decision to close the whole bubble‘. This is categorised as an ‘outbreak’ by Public Health England and is less about the number of infections and more about the spread and scope of transmission. We have not yet had to take this action.
- The only other time we will shut a whole bubble‘ or year group is when a test comes in late in the day or early in the morning leaving no time to work through ‘close and direct contacts’. In this scenario, unless there are multiple cases, the majority of students will only be absent from the academy for 24 hours.
- In all of our previous cases, we have consulted with the Department for Education and the Trust who are able to advise us on the process and now we have had a number of positive tests, we are well versed with the procedures.
- In all positive cases where students have been in the academy, a letter will go to all parents in that bubble or year group and students that are required to self–isolate and to all parents and students who should be back in the academy.
- Students who have tested positive are asked to isolate for 10 days whilst ‘close or direct contacts have to isolate for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
I hope this goes some way to explain the robust measures that we have in place and gives you confidence that the academy is doing everything it can to keep everybody safe but also keep as many students learning in the academy as possible.
Please can I ask parents not to post information pertaining to individual students who have tested positive on Whatsapp, Facebook or any Social media as this can create unnecessary anxiety for parents and creates unnecessary discussion based on, sometimes, misinformation.
Secondly, I would also like to remind you that it is vitally important that your child does NOT come into the academy if:
- They have a high temperature, a loss or change of taste or smell or a continuous cough. If a student displays one or more of these symptoms then they must self–isolate for 10 days and organise a test. They CANNOT return to the academy unless they complete the isolation period or they receive a negative test.
- If a family member displays the symptoms above then a student must NOT come to the academy. They should be isolated for 14 days. A negative test for the student does not allow them to return to the academy but a negative test from the symptomatic person will.
- If a family member tests positive then a student must NOT come to the academy. They will be required to isolate for 14 days and, again, a negative test will not allow them to return.
- If a student or family member is waiting for a test result, the student must NOT be in the academy until the results have come back negative or follow the full isolation period if positive.
- If a student has been asked to isolate through NHS Test and Trace they must do so and make the academy aware. They must NOT attend the academy.
It is by following these simple rules that we can keep our community, your children safe. Unfortunately these rules have not always been followed and this does increase the risk to us all.
I recognise that there is an issue with students who have felt ill but not with the 3 main Covid symptoms and have later developed Covid symptoms. In this scenario, it is a judgment call on whether the child should come to the academy and this can only be made by the parent. I would suggest that at the moment if a child is unwell, for whatever reason, it would be prudent for them to stay off until you can establish that it is not Covid.
I know that you will all have very contrasting views on how the pandemic is being handled but I can assure you that our response will always be sensible, forensic and communicated in a timely fashion and in the best interests of our Leigh community.
Finally, we know that next week, the national lockdown ends and Kent moves into Tier 3. This indicates that cases and infection in our local and surrounding areas remain ‘very high‘. We must all continue to follow the guidance to keep our community as safe as possible as we all continue to follow the rules. I would encourage you to discuss the next stage of Tier 3 restrictions with your children, as we will also do in the academy. This is not the time for complacency but rather to ensure we all – staff, students, parents/carers are working together to protect each other.
We are very much dealing with the situation on a daily basis and will continue to provide you with as much communication as we can. There is more positive news going forward as a vaccine will hopefully soon become available and quicker and more accessible testing is developed.
Thank you for your ongoing support and I wish you all a safe weekend ahead.
Julia Collins | Principal