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COVID-19 testing for students and the staggered start to the Spring Term

COVID-19 testing for students and the staggered start to the Spring Term

31 December 2020 

Dear Parents and Carers,

COVID-19 testing for students and the staggered start to the Spring Term

We are writing to update you on our plans for the lateral flow covid testing following recent Department for Education (DfE) announcements. We aim to ensure that Fortismere School is as safe as possible and these tests will add to the protective measures we have already put in place. The lateral flow tests will support the identification of asymptomatic students so by testing we will help to mitigate risk and help to keep the School open to as many students as possible. The test is voluntary, but we would encourage everyone to take it. 

Our intention is that we will be testing all staff and students prior to their return to Fortismere. To facilitate this, the Government has announced that students in Years 7-10 and 12 will return to face to face teaching on 18 January. Therefore, from Tuesday 5 January to Friday 15 January, all lessons for Years 7-10 and 12 will be online. Most will be delivered via live streaming. For Y11 and 13 online teaching will take place from January 5-8.

  • Year 11 will return on Monday, January 11 for face to face teaching. Their mock examinations will begin on January 25, one week later. Time tables will be re-issued.

  • Year 13 will return to school on Tuesday, January 12 to begin their mock examinations. The exam timetables will be re-issued.

  • Years 7-10 and Year 12 are expected to return to school on Monday, January 18.

Fortismere has been developing the effectiveness of its remote offer since school closures in March. This provision will follow the same structure as we have used previously through Google Classroom, and will be the very best we can offer with the resources we have. The vast majority of lessons will be ‘live streamed’ (except in the cases where staff are ill or caring for a self isolating dependent).  Live streamed lessons will mean that students will need to be online and ready at the start of the lesson as the teacher will be presenting and talking to students over either Goggle Meet or Zoom - links to the lessons will be posted in Google Classroom before the lesson starts.  We feel that this is the best way to ensure that all students can continue with their learning, Registers will be taken for each lesson and it is our expectation that students will be able to attend their remote lessons in accordance with their timetables. However, if you have technological barriers which would prevent your son or daughter accessing live lessons, please email your concern to: remotelearning@fortismere.org.uk

Key Worker School will be available for the children of critical workers and disadvantaged students during the period of school closure. If you think your son or daughter is eligible for a place, please read the attached Key Worker School letter for eligibility criteria and contact information.

We will continue to issue Free School Meals (FSM) vouchers to all eligible families from 4-8 January and for all eligible families except Y11 (who will be able to access lunch onsite) from 11-15 January.

We are currently planning our testing schedule. You will be contacted with more details, including a consent form, next week. Your child will need to attend Fortismere twice before the 18 January to undertake the test, assuming that you give consent. 

Our plans are, of course, subject to change. We have made decisions based on the current Government stance that schools will open, and tests will be delivered on Monday 4 January.  However, as more information becomes available, or Government policy changes, we may need to reconsider our approach. 

Testing the school cohort is an additional tool to support safety for all in Fortismere. However, it does not replace the safeguards currently in operation in school. We will continue to educate our students in their zones on their return and in keeping with Tier 4 guidance students will still be required to wear masks in the corridors and other communal areas. 

We hope that our plans mean that our students benefit in terms of both academic progress and their mental health. However, the success of the testing scheme relies on every student and their family following Government advice when not in school. London is currently in Tier 4 and therefore we are asked to: 

• Stay at home - no one should leave the home without a reasonable excuse such as going to work, essential shopping, or education. 

• Do not attend social gatherings. This includes New Year’s Eve.

• Outdoor exercise should only be taken with other members of your household or with one person from another household, remaining socially distant. 

• Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. 

• Wear a face covering where social distancing is difficult. 

• Remain 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. 

The full Tier 4 guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home Thank you in advance for your support 

Yours sincerely,

 

Jo Davey and Zoe Judge

Co-Headteachers