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New INSET day and contact over the Christmas holidays

You may have seen in the news today that schools have been given permission from the Government to make Friday 18th December an INSET day. This is to ensure that school staff do not have to work on Christmas Eve. I'm sure you will agree that after the challenges this year has brought, expecting staff to work on Christmas Eve (when they are not paid or contracted to work and when they should be with their families) is not really fair.

Public Health England has agreed a 6 day window after the final day of teaching in which schools are asked to remain contactable so they can assist with contact tracing where necessary. This will allow enough time for positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases to be identified and confirmed by a test and for relevant contacts in the education setting to be traced. If school was open on Friday 18th December, this would mean that school staff would have to remain contactable and potentially have to contact staff and parents of pupils following the contract tracing procedure on the 24th December (the 6th day). Making Thursday 17th December the last day for pupils and closing the school for INSET would mean the last day staff would be asked to do this would be 23rd December which although is still not ideal for school staff, it is better than having to work on Christmas Eve.

Supporting parents with advice and assisting with contract tracing has led to a huge increase in workload in the evenings, weekends and holidays so it is pleasing that the Government has finally recognised that asking staff to work an additional 6 days of the holidays is a big ask anyway without it impacting Christmas Eve.

This issue has been highlighted to the Government since the beginning of the term (I'm sure you will have seen lots about it in the news) so it is highly frustrating that they have left it this late to make this decision. I appreciate for some of you, this may mean you are now having to look for childcare at this late stage and I'm sorry if this causes you any inconvenience but this decision was out of our control.

Contract tracing during the holidays

It is really important that you help with the contract tracing if your child develops symptoms after school has closed for Christmas. You will need to make contact if:

1. Your child develops symptoms on Friday 18th or Saturday 19th December (and they were in school on Wednesday 16th or Thursday 17th December). You will need to organise a test straight away and inform us of the results as soon as you receive them.

2. Your child receives a positive test result on Friday 18th or Saturday 19th December and they were in school 48 hours before the test result (if no symptoms) or in school anytime in the 48 hours before they showed symptoms.

3. Your child receives a positive test result anytime up to Wednesday 23rd December. Please send confirmation of the result as well as the date when symptoms were first noticed and the last date your child was in school.

Please e-mail me in the first instance:

I will check my e-mails at 10am, 4pm and 8pm each day. I will respond to you so you know I have received your e-mail. 

In the unlikely event that I am unavailable and you do not get a response at the times above (closest to the time you sent the e-mail), please e-mail Mrs Smith:

If your child tests positive from 24th December onwards, you do not need to contact school until school reopens after the holidays.

If your child has been a close contact

If I receive confirmation from a parent that a child has tested positive or from a staff member and subsequently then identify your child has been a close contact, I will send an e-mail and text message to alert you about this. It is therefore really important that you ensure the details we hold for you are accurate and you check your messages daily. You will need to ensure your child follows the 14 day isolation as per the government guidelines in this case. Please send a confirmation e-mail to the addresses above to confirm you have received this information if your child is identified as a close contact of a positive case.

I truly hope no Parent/Carer or staff member has to contact me to inform me of a positive case and therefore I don't have to contact any staff family to tell them that their child needs to self-isolate or contact any staff member to tell them that they have to self-isolate over the Christmas period.

You can all help make the risks of this happening as low as possible by consistently following the rules for our tier. I know we are all fed up with the COVID rules but I'm sure you all want Christmas to be as special as possible. I know I certainly want to spend mine with the family I'm allowed to meet with and I'm sure you feel the same so please, please help us all achieve this.

Thanking you in advance for your support.

Mrs Johnson