19 August 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
Our students returned to school this week and have already generated enough energy and enthusiasm to light up a small town. They have arrived on time, ready to learn, with a great attitude, well-equipped for class and appropriately dressed for school.
New S1 Students
Due to the lack of the normal transition days before summer, our new S1 cohort saw the school in real life for the very first time. They have many adjustments to make, but it is clear that their parents, carers and their primary teachers have prepared them as well as possible for this new exciting phase.
The transition kits provided by our Parent Council, are proving popular. https://twitter.com/LinzerLaw/status/1427894438651629575/photo/1 These contain lots of useful items to help with the return to school and transition from primary to secondary, all in a practical re-useable bag. Thank you, you wonderful people.
Our returning S2 to S6 groups have come back similarly eager to get on with school again. The seven week holiday has been good for them and their return is an opportunity for a fresh start. One can only hope that the widescale fragmentation and disruption that we saw last year is now consigned to the past.
Our senior phase students achieved great results through our Alternative Certification Model. Again, our young people coped with demands that have never before been witnessed.
Over the course of last year, teachers and support staff had to re-invent our approaches to learning, teaching and assessment. We did this not once but several times as different mitigations and school models had to be introduced. Despite this, the overall results indicate good progression from previous trends. The hard work on all fronts and excellent stewardship of the processes have brought dividends. Some of the newly-introduced procedures and strengthened processes are likely to stand us in good stead as we start the senior phase accreditation process all over again. Both students and staff will have grown stronger and are now ready to take on and make the most of whatever 2021-22 has in store.
What Lies Ahead
In line with the whole of society, we anticipate a cautious but definite easing of restrictions. For the first six weeks our mitigations will be almost the same as they were prior to the summer break. We will continue to adhere to the government’s FACTS, including face coverings indoors and surface/hand cleaning. Some significant changes and updates are:
- Two-metre Distancing: The Test and Protect (TaP) system will no longer assume that proximity within 2m for 15 minutes or more equates to being a close contact. Instead, TaP will identify those at higher risk or who have had unusually prolonged contact with the ‘index case’. TaP will inform those people directly. Contact tracing will no longer involve the school in the majority of cases.
- Potential close contacts for ‘low risk’ situations will not be asked to self-isolate. Instead, the school has been asked to issue a standard ‘Warn and Inform’ letter to the young people concerned.
- Self-isolation: Those who are identified as a close contact by TaP will be asked to stay off school until they have taken a PCR test and have tested negative for Covid. The major change here is that a negative result allows the person to return to school. Previously, close contacts had to self-isolate even if their test was negative.
- One major mitigation remains – anyone with Covid symptoms must stay off school, and continue to do so even if tests prove negative. If symptoms persist they should seek advice from their doctor.
The Next Steps
No-one wants to place school users at unnecessary risk. Thankfully, the scientific and medical experts as well as our national government are telling us that the vaccination programme has taken us to a point where restrictions can start to be lifted. This is warmly welcomed by the school.
The social isolation and inevitable diversion of attention away from other health conditions during lockdown has affected many members of society. The very young and the elderly have been particularly badly affected by the reduction in social interaction and emotional stimulation. Young people living in disadvantage have been disproportionately affected. For them, learning, physical wellbeing and mental health all dipped during the lockdown and blended learning phases. Now an extra effort must be made to bridge those gaps. As a school we will do all we can to make a positive difference.
Adhering to the current Covid mitigations is as important as ever. We must not become complacent, otherwise the return to normality will be delayed.
One of the most effective ways for students to keep themselves and others safe is by taking a twice-weekly lateral flow test. These are readily available via the school office up until 4pm Mon-Thurs, or 1pm on Fridays. They are also available via community outlets.
I would ask you please to keep reminding your child that their compliance with Covid mitigations at school is welcomed and appreciated by their teachers and support staff. Let’s all treasure the opportunity to learn and grow together in a safe a nurturing environment.
Mr John Wilson, Headteacher