We are very much looking forward to welcoming all of our students back into The Leigh Academy over the next few days. I write with an update on our COVID-19 safety measures for the autumn term.
Face coverings are currently not required by staff or students in classrooms or in communal areas. The government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they be worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college. If any student or member of staff wishes to wear a face covering in the academy they may do so.
The government expects schools to continue with a range of control measures which have become second nature to all of us:
1. Hand hygiene
Frequent and thorough hand cleaning should now be regular practice. We will continue to ensure that students are reminded to clean their hands regularly. This can be done with soap and water or hand sanitiser.
2. Respiratory hygiene
The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important; with students using tissues and putting them in the bin afterwards.
3. Cleaning regimes
We continue with our enhanced cleaning schedule, including regular cleaning of areas and equipment, with a particular focus on frequently touched surfaces.
4. Ventilation of occupied spaces
We will continue to ensure that the academy is well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained. Where necessary, doors and windows will be open to allow fresh air flow.
5. Asymptomatic testing
Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of infection within schools, which is why we are testing students on their return on site twice. We will then provide home testing kits and ask that students continue to test twice weekly at home through September. Staff will also be carrying out twice weekly tests themselves. This will be reviewed by the DfE at the end of September and we will share further updates with parents/carers then.
Confirmatory PCR Tests
Staff and pupils with a positive LFD test result should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. They will also need to get a free PCR test to check if they have COVID-19. Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the individual should continue to self-isolate. If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test and the pupil can return to school, as long as the individual doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
Tracing Close Contacts and Isolation
As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case and/or their parents to identify close contacts. Contacts from a school setting will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case and/or their parent specifically identifies the individual as being a close contact. This is likely to be a small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact. Schools may be contacted by NHS to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases.
Individuals are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated
- they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. We would encourage all individuals to take a PCR test if advised to do so.
The Leigh Academy has an updated Risk Assessment and a Covid-19 Outbreak Management plan on our website.
We continue with our online learning plan, with students having access to Chromebooks and all work accessible via Google Classrooms. This will be available for our students who need to self-isolate because they have tested positive to enable them to learn from home, if they are well enough to do so.
As always, safety of students and staff is a top priority within our Leigh community and we will monitor the situation, act upon guidance from the DfE and local advice from Public Health England accordingly. We will also always keep parents/carers informed and up to date of any changes.
I am hopeful that this year we will be able to have the majority of our students learning on site with us the majority of the time. We are also able to have sports clubs and extra activities return to our calendar as well as meeting more parents/carers in person when possible.