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Coronavirus End Of Testing Letter

Dear Parents and Carers,

We are currently experiencing staff sickness levels higher than anything we have ever experienced.  Today we have 8 members of staff absent due to illness.  The 8 staff members are ill, not just self-isolating.  Supply agencies continue to be empty, so it is almost impossible to book supply cover for classes.  I believe this is a similar picture to what is happening in most schools.

Unfortunately, at the end of this term we have had to close nursery and Year 5.  This has been a last resort as we know our pupils have already experienced so much disruption to their education, but we simply could not open those classes safely. 

Every member of our school staff is desperate to get back to school the way it used to be.  This term we were able to have visitors back in school, we ran school trips and we even took part in rugby and netball tournaments.  This was wonderful for our pupils – and our staff.  We want to be able to live with Covid in a way that still gives our pupils a rich and exciting variety of school experiences. 

We are also supporting pupils who have lived through two years of a pandemic.  Pupils have experienced two disrupted years of school with home learning and lockdowns.  They also have much higher levels of anxiety than we have experienced before.

The NHS has updated the list of symptoms of Covid: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/ and the newly recognized symptoms are the same as most other childhood illnesses.  This information has come out at the same time as we are losing our only scientific way of monitoring the illness, now that PCR testing is being removed. 

I currently have Covid myself after managing to avoid it for 2 years!  I have had both vaccines and the booster, but I have still been ill with Covid.  My wife also has Covid.  It has been vital for us to know we have Covid because we live with my 91-year-old father-in-law and we have carers who visit our house three times a day, and then visit vulnerable people in other families.  My father-in-law has now become ill, but we can no longer get a PCR to see if he has Covid.  Without regular testing, how do we limit the spread of Covid to those members of our community who are most at risk?

We are now moving into new territory with Coronavirus.  The testing and self-isolation routines that we all relied on have now been removed and we are waiting on clear guidance to follow as schools.  We are following our established risk assessment for the rest of this term.  I expect new guidance for schools to come out during the next fortnight.  I will then be able to update our school risk assessment and procedures, and send information out to all our families.

Over 260 adults and children mix together in our school every day, so we need to make sure we have clear procedures in place to help us live with Covid.  We want out school to feel safe for our pupils, to be safe for our community and to do this without excessive restrictions and unnecessary disruption.

Thank you for your amazing support and understanding during the last two years.  We know that this has been a very difficult period for all our families.  We are extremely lucky to have such supportive parents and carers, and I cannot thank you enough for the way you have helped us throughout the pandemic.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Quin