Dear Parents and Carers,
Thank you so much for all of your incredible support during 2020. This has without a doubt been the most difficult and challenging year I have ever experienced working in education, and I know that these experiences and emotions are shared by many in our community, both in your personal and professional lives.
In times of great difficulty, my experience is that people either come together in partnership or they descend into isolation and recrimination. I am very proud that in these impossible circumstances, as an entire school community, we have chosen harmony over division and hope over despair.
I would also like to thank you and your children for the trust you have shown in us to operate Wollaston School in as safe a way as possible. Whilst of course, we cannot halt or control the coronavirus, we can follow all guidelines as carefully as possible and respond appropriately when positive cases do emerge. It is again testament to the way in which we work together that we have enjoyed near normal attendance levels (around 94% ) throughout this term whilst nationally secondary schools have struggled to get in to the 80 % attendance bracket. We do not take your support and our responsibilities lightly, so thank you for your trust in us.
Christmas Charity Donations
In order to avoid shared touch points we have had to postpone our usual House Christmas Hamper competition. However, that has not been able to stop the incredible generosity shown across the school. We have undertaken a number of car and minibus trips to offer donations to the Salvation Army, Wollaston is Kind and the Re:Store Food bank in Northampton.
Thank you to our Sixth Form leadership team, particularly the charity co-ordinators for making this happen so efficiently, both in terms of the usual practicalities and in a Covid-secure way too! We appreciate the generosity and care for one another which is such an important facet of life at Wollaston School and particularly at Christmas.
Covid-19 Testing in Schools
You may well be aware of the latest Government announcement regarding the introduction of rapid, lateral flow testing for staff and students in secondary schools. The press release can be found HERE
This will of course be a massive step forwards in reducing the need for isolation of staff and students and ensuring that we are able to operate a maximum possible capacity. We warmly welcome the approach and the principle of having testing available in schools. I also recognise the inherent recognition in this announcement that schools have done a wonderful job in terms of safety measures and in enabling effective test, trace and self isolation processes in our local communities.
However, I do want to manage expectations in terms of timescale for this to become a fully functioning and workable system. As has been the case with previous Department for Education Pres Releases, the announcement is big on ambition and short on detail. Although the first week in January is mentioned for the “initial phase”, it is completely unclear what this means. It is also worth noting, that, as has become customary, schools had no advance notice of this programme – I found out through a news alert and we have no more information than the general public. What is clear, is that we are expected to run this system as a school community, recruiting and training appropriate staff, repurposing an area of the school site, administering all testing as well as managing the medical consent, record keeping, isolation and contact tracing process.
All this as well as providing a great education!
As I hope that parents are aware, we will rise to the challenge, and implement whatever is required to help our students, staff, our community and of course to assist in the wider national effort. This will though take time to put into place and I will need the further guidance from the DfE before we are able to even begin formal planning for this programme. More details to follow in 2021, a year in which I hope we will be able to celebrate a return to a full, rich, free and inspiring education and way of living. If it takes setting up a mass testing programme at Wollaston School to achieve this – we will find a way to do it!
It is clear that we will need additional staff to run the testing facility and we are being encouraged to explore using both volunteers and paid employees. So , we are likely to be on something of a recruitment drive. If you, or any member of your family does have any medical experience, perhaps in first aid, as a ST John’s ambulance volunteer a current or retired nurse or medical practitioner, and would be interested in wither volunteering or working in a paid capacity to help with testing, we would love to hear from you! In the first instance, please email Jade Fitzhugh FitzhughJ@wollaston-school.net with your contact details and we will be in touch in the new year.
Positive Covid Tests in the School Holidays
As mentioned last week, a reminder of what to do in the event that a students receives a positive covid-19 test result during the holidays.
I will be available via email each morning (until 11.30am) up to and including the 23rd December 2020. If you need to report a positive coronavirus test result for a student of Wollaston School, please do ensure that the entire household is isolating and contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org providing the following information.
Date the student was last in school:
Date that coronavirus symptoms began:
Date of the Covid-19 test:
Date the positive test result was received:
I will then be in touch to advise on next steps and begin the contact tracing process. If we need to contact students or families with advice to self -isolate I will do so via email and will also try to call, but this may not be possible in all circumstances.
Please also do note below, the Government’s advice on contacting schools during the Christmas break – but I also know that this is not amazingly clear, so if you are in any doubt or uncertainty – please do just email and I will happily support.
- Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
- For the first 6 days after teaching ends, if a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, the school is asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school.
Thank you for all of your kindness, positivity and support during this impossible time. We appreciate your messages of support – which are now proudly displayed on a Christmas Tree of gratitude. On behalf of all of us at Wollaston School, we wish you a peaceful, safe and merry Christmas and every best wish for 2021.
Mr James Birkett