As I explained in my letter dated 1st November, due to a steep rise in case rates throughout October, Public Health Dorset and Dorset Council provided additional guidance for educational settings across the county to reduce transmission of COVID-19 for a 14-day period after half term.
This was a joint approach across the South West region which set out further measures schools could take within the Department for Education’s Contingency Framework, including limiting large gatherings and mixing between groups.
Local case rates remain significantly above the England average, and are now above the South West average. Although case rates have been generally declining, they are not coming down as quickly and the decrease is much slower than in other regions.
Additionally, Southill has seen a sudden and alarming rise in covid cases amongst its school population this week. We have reviewed our current arrangements with Public Health Dorset and have agreed that we need to move to a more robust set of restrictions in order to allow the current high number of cases to subside and so that transmission across class groups is avoided. In this way we hope to break the cycle of transmission so children at Southill can stay fit and healthy.
We are therefore taking these measures for the next two weeks, after which we will review case numbers within the school:
- All classes to return to ‘bubbled’ play and lunchtimes – ie no mixing
- Support work involving staff moving acround the school will stop (ie if your child receives extra support during the afternoons as part of a group of children drawn from other classes, this will stop)
- Staff will wear facemasks when they move around school (but not when teaching).
- All clubs will stop
- All sporting fixtures will be cancelled
- Parents should not visit the school
- Parent volunteers should not come in to school.
Drop-off and collection arrangements
In the interests of keeping our response proportional to the transmission within the school, and minimising effects on parents and families, we have decided to make no changes to drop-off and collection arrangements. Please continue to collect your child in the same way as you do at the moment. All we ask is that:
- You do not send your child to school early – to prevent gathering at the school gates
- You drop off your child quickly when moving through the playground, avoiding crowding with other parents.
- You do not come into the school building.
I am really disappointed to be telling you about even more restrictions on the children’s movements within school. However, we are all hopeful that this break in inter-school mixing will have a substantial impact on the numbers of cases in school and allow all of our children to return to school and full health quickly.
Meanwhile, I would like to take the opportunity to remind you of our general guidance for keeping Covid-19 out of school. There have been no changes to this guidance since it was shared with you before half term:
1. If your child develops symptoms, keep your child off school and book a PCR test.
2. If your child is waiting for a PCR test result, it is ok to bring your child to school providing they test negative on a LFD test each morning and have no symptoms.
3. If your child is a close family contact of someone who has tested positive (e.g. someone living in the same household) it is ok to bring your child to school each day while they have no symptoms but we would recommend you carry out an LFD test on your child each morning. Whilst this is not mandatory, it is a sensible step in order to prioritise everyone’s safety.
4. If your child tests positive on a LFD or PCR test, they should remain at home and isolate. The isolation period includes the day the symptoms started (or the day the test was taken if the child does not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days.
In addition, Public Health Dorset also recommend that all parents should test themselves twice weekly using free lateral flow tests in order to prevent children being sent to school from an asymptomatic infected household.
Please get in touch if you have any questions.