Message from the Headmistress
We are back in school, hurrah! The sun has shone (weekend), the rain has poured, the wind has raged, and the overall outlook has been chilly and grey but we are in good spirits and there is a lovely sense of hustle and bustle as school builds back to normality. (Nearly)
On Wednesday, we held a very successful virtual Open Day, and we had a good number of families looking to join the school. We are starting to offer on site, though socially distanced, parent tours for prospective families from after Easter, resuming Stay and Play sessions then too as well as hopefully reintroducing taster sessions after May half term (all subject to changing government guidance on safe practice). For entrants seeking an after Easter start, we are requesting a period of isolation from current school bubbles before attending. With spaces available, we will happily seek to integrate new pupils to classes throughout the year as per need. Interestingly, we find we are getting increased uptake from families looking at the school if their first engagement with us is virtual. This may be a positive change to come out of the lockdowns, though we acknowledge all the time, there is no better way to really ‘get’ Hollygirt, than to feel its unique environment for real.
This week we welcomed back the pupils over Monday and Tuesday and all Seniors pupils were tested using the Lateral Flow Devices as they arrived. We had some queueing going on, but the children seemed to do so happily, catching up on 3 months of gossip with their friends. I am pleased to report that we have a 100% negative result. Just to remind you we are logging these in school tests with the NHS and you will only be informed of the result by the school if the result is positive.
At the end of the week we have run the second test for all consenting Senior pupils, and again, we have 100% negative results. Can I take this opportunity to publicly thank the outstanding professionalism of the 3 internal staff who have made this all work with efficiency and good humour. It has been a challenge in the preparation, but it is now running like clockwork. The staff are : Mrs George (Test Assistant) Mr Arnold (Test Processor) and Mrs Marriot (Registration and Data Recorder). Of course there is support in the background from other staff who are acting as runners, queue supervisors and organisers of the minutiae – thanks to all. Everything we can do to ensure our site is free of the virus, helps us to continue with our core purpose: to educate the children and to look after the health and wellbeing of all our community members.
On Monday and Tuesday we have the last of the formal in school testing. We will retain the stocks and can run a skeleton service thereafter for any who require it, however, next week we will be sending out home testing kits for the Senior pupils to continue their asymptomatic testing. On Wednesday 17th March, each Year 7 to Year 11 pupil will receive 2 boxes of home testing kits. Each contains 3 tests. This will be sufficient for 3 weeks of testing – pupils are required to undertake these twice a week, (3-5 days apart). Having established a routine of Monday-Thursdays (Y10/11) and Tuesday-Fridays (Years 7/8/9) it would be good to continue this pattern.
Home Testing for Senior Pupils
There is a fabulous clear video tutorial which explains the process of testing and processing results to the children in clear language. I will ensure this is shown in tutor time in school, but in case you wish to see the process for yourself, it is available on You Tube, the presenter is Dr Amir Khan, and it is entitled How to do a Covid-19 Self Test. It runs for 7.26 minutes.
Pupils or their parents also need to register the results on the NHS site – there is guidance on how to do this in the leaflet contained in the box.
Remember, that in the case of a void sample, or if the teeth/tongue cheek is touched with the swab, it will need to be repeated. If further supplies are required because of this, please request these from the school. However, it is to be noted that the tests sent home are only to be used by the pupils themselves, and not by other family members as they are registered to the school, and to the pupils by batch. Should parents or other family members like to be tested, there are several ways you can access the NHS services:
Take a test at a rapid lateral flow test site
You can take a rapid lateral flow test at a local site. Testing at these sites is assisted, which means you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator.
You may need to book an appointment.
Collect test kits
You can collect 2 packs of home test kits at a local collection point. Each pack contains 7 tests.
Anyone 18 or over can collect.
Most collection points are open from 1.30pm to 7pm. You can check online if the location is open or busy before you go. You do not need to make an appointment.
Do not visit a collection point outside opening hours, as it may be used to test people with coronavirus symptoms outside these times.
Order home test kits online
If you cannot get tested at your workplace, or are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online.
Do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.
To clarify the position on what to do with a positive test on an LFD device: the official statement from the DfE is as follows:
If a pupil or student received a supervised school-based LFD test, as part of the rapid asymptomatic testing programme, and it was positive then they and other members of their household must self-isolate. PCR testing is not advised if you have received a positive result from an LFD test at a school or college test site. If a parent was to do this and it returned a negative result, the policy remains that the pupil or student, their close contacts, and other members of their household must still self-isolate.
All positive results from rapid tests undertaken at home do need to be confirmed with a standard PCR test. This is because these tests are not conducted in a controlled environment and will not have trained staff on hand. Following positive LFD test at home, a confirmatory PCR test should be booked online or by calling 119. Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the pupil or student and their close contacts should self-isolate. If the PCR test is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test (at home only) and a child can return to school.
And a further reminder that a) if you or any household members have Coronavirus symptoms, they must immediately self-isolate with the whole household and the symptomatic individual should book a PRC test. Children with a symptomatic household member, or who are themselves symptomatic must not be in school. b) You must continue to let the school know of any positive results, of LFD and PCR so school can assess whether any known contacts need to be self-isolated.
I am sorry there is a lot of information here, and some rules have changed over time. If you are in any doubt and wish to seek clarification, please call myself or Mrs Wright at school and we should be able to help. The DfE website has endless guidance as well, which can be referred to online.
I am not holding the parents’ forum this Friday evening. However, if I get several parents with questions they would like to pose, I am happy to run as many virtual Q+A sessions as required in the short term to allow these to be aired. After Easter, I will resume the scheduled forum meetings as on the school calendar.
Mrs Barsham, the new Head Teacher, will be visiting the school for the second time, next Friday. I am seeking a mechanism for introducing her to parents, virtually in the short term and in person in the longer term. I will update you on the likely dates for the first of these opportunities next week.
Following the Trustees F+GP committee meeting, we will be sending out a letter on Monday outlining the fee discount awarded for the weeks of lockdown (January to March 2021). This will be reflected in your bills for the Summer Term, which will be received at the end of term.
Dates coming up next week (and adjustments to previously published dates).
The DoE Training Day is postponed; the Junior Spring Concert is cancelled; the Friends of Hollygirt Meeting is not currently happening. (More on this one in future newsletters)
The Juniors are having a fun Science afternoon on Wednesday 17th.
Comic Relief is on Friday 19th. On this day we are asking children and staff to wear red. The Juniors will be doing a sponsored run and the Seniors will have an afternoon comedy challenge. Further details of these will come out via the pupils.
I suspect that all will be incredibly tired at the end of this week. I know I am. So a good rest is in order over the weekend. But I remind you it is Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day) on Sunday and some may wish to have a little treat….
Message from the Head of Juniors
Good afternoon and welcome back!
It is fantastic to have the children back in school and just watching them playing with their friends at playtime is so lovely to see. The children have enjoyed being back in lessons and are motivated, enthusiastic and working hard. I think they are ready for the weekend as it has been quite tiring for some, especially getting used to the early starts again.
On Wednesday next week, the children will be having their individual photographs. Later in the day, we are holding a Science afternoon and teachers are busy planning exciting experiments for their classes. On Friday, it is Comic Relief and children are being invited to wear red and donate £1. Children in Years 1-6 will also be participating in a sponsored walk/run and information on this should be on its way to you.
Please keep us informed if anyone in your household has any covid symptoms. A reminder that under the current restrictions, children should not be sharing cars with members of other households.
I hope you have a lovely weekend and we look forward to seeing you all again on Monday.
Head of Juniors