Birch Wood School Opening Guidance August 2021
The advice from the Department for Education is that as the coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education. Therefore, our priority is to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all students as the evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.
In order to keep everyone safe we regularly review and update our risk assessments, treating them as ‘living documents’ so that we can respond as the circumstances at school and with public health advice changes. Our risk assessments are reviewed as part of our ongoing monitoring schedule. Claire Wood– Assistant Head is the Key Lead for this risk assessment.
Most clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people are advised, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as everyone, although if you would like to discuss your child’s needs in more detail or have concerns about people in your household, please contact us for an individual approach. In some cases, it may be necessary to conduct an individual risk assessment for your child in light of Covid. A very small number of young people under paediatric or other specialist care have been advised by their clinician or other specialist not to attend, if this applies to your child, we will provide a risk assessment and look at any alternative ways we can support your child’s education provision.
School attendance is mandatory for all children of compulsory school age, and it is a priority to ensure that as many children as possible regularly attend school.
Where a child is required to self-isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19 in accordance with relevant legislation or guidance published by Public Health England (PHE) they should be recorded as code X (not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus). Where they are unable to attend because they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should be recorded as code I (illness).
School attendance is tracked closely in school by Claire Wood – Assistant Head. Sarah Alldridge, our Family School Link Worker, is also available to discuss any concerns families may have about attendance.
Where a student has been advised to isolate for any reason and therefore is unable to attend because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, we will be able to offer them access to high quality remote education. This will co-ordinated by Michelle Walker, our ‘Education Continuity Lead’ who will work with your child’s class teacher and subject teachers where applicable. Additional systems are also in place to keep in contact with students to support their access to remote education. We recognise that many of our students may not be able to access remote education without adult support and so will work collaboratively with families and put in place reasonable adjustments so that our students can successfully access remote education appropriate for their level of need. We will also work with other outside agencies including health and social care to help ensure student’s needs are met within their EHCP, including any other welfare needs. We aim to work in partnership with families to achieve the best outcomes, even under more challenging circumstances families may be facing at different times. Our ‘Education Continuity and Remote Learning Policy’ can be found on our website under ‘Curriculum’- ‘Remote Learning’.
Families will be offered annual reviews to be conducted in person or remotely depending on your preference and what is most supportive of everyone’s engagement. Annual Reviews are overseen and quality assured by Tom Bradley-Hewell– Assistant Head & SENDco, who is available to discuss any additional questions you may have about them. It is important to us that assessments and reviews continue to ensure that the child or young person, and their parent and carer, is at the centre of the process and can engage with the process in a meaningful way.
The DfE no longer recommend that it is necessary to keep children and young people in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means that bubbles will not be required by the DfE in schools from the autumn term. Whilst we recognise this will enable flexibility in curriculum delivery, we feel a slightly more gradual approach to stepping down from protection measures is required to help reduce the risk of exposure to more vulnerable students. Therefore, we will be operating the following larger bubbles which will be reviewed half termly, as part of our ongoing risk assessment.
Bubbles October 2021- February 2022
- Birch Wood Vale & Ashton House= 1 bubble
- Grange Drive EYFS & KS1 & KS2= 1 bubble
- Grange Drive KS3, KS4 & KS5= 1 bubble
- Grange Drive all Autism Provision Classes = 1 bubble
As a school we will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing. We will continue to have a role in working with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak. We are advised that as a school we may be contacted in exceptional cases to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases.
As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case or their parent to identify close contacts.
As per the government advice, individuals are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated
- they are below the age of 18 years 6 months
- they have taken part in, or are currently part of, an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Instead, they will be:
- Contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case
- Advised to take a PCR test. As stated, if this is negative, they do not need to isolate
However, as Birch Wood’s continuing duty of care to our community we will continue to inform parents about Covid cases in school where their child may be a close contact. Working with the most up to date advice from our local health protection team we also recommend that household contacts of a confirmed Covid case take daily LFD test prior to coming to school, this is due to evidence which suggests a delay in detecting the Virus in close contacts. We may also ask for families to conduct/support daily testing on young people who have been a close contact of a confirmed case in school. This is to enable early detection of cases before they come in to school. We will write to you and let you know when this is being recommended.
Birch Wood School requests that in the following circumstances parents contact the school; please make us aware if:
- you or your child are living with someone who has Covid 19,
- you have been in close contact with someone with Covid19, OR
- where your child who attends Birch Wood has tested positive for Covid 19
This will enable us to take the necessary steps to protect some of our most vulnerable students and also support track and trace in the rare case it will be required. We will register all students every lesson at BWV to help track student contact. At BWV students will also sit in seating plans in all lessons.
Therefore, children and young people aged under 18 years 6 months who usually attend school, and have been identified as a close contact, should continue to attend school as normal.
- We will not be asking close contacts to isolate unless they are requested to by NHS track and trace.
- We do encourage close contacts to have a PCR test when they have been in close contact with a confirmed case either at home or school as per government guidance.
- We may ask parents to support with daily LFD testing of close contacts from school
- Working with our local health protection team we will ask household contacts of a confirmed case to conduct daily LFD testing prior to coming to school
- We will continue to let parents know if their child has been in contact with a confirmed case.
- We may need to change our approach in the case of an outbreak in school and will work closely with UK Health Security Agency (previously Public Health England) in such circumstances.
Please note, 18-year-olds will be treated in the same way as children until 6 months after their 18th birthday, to allow them the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. At which point, they will be subject to the same rules as adults, and so if they choose not to get vaccinated, they will need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact.
At Birch Wood School, staff will continue to wear a surgical facemask for the foreseeable future, unless exempt. This is as a precaution until infection rates drop in the school age population and more of our student population are vaccinated. We will review the situation regularly. We will also consult families on changes to this precaution at the time.
The DfE has stated that face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. However, the government has also stated that Headteachers are best placed to establish what safety measures are right for each school due to the uniqueness of every setting. As a special school, with both vulnerable children and adults we hope this graduated approach to lifting safety measures in school will help maintain our good track record of low infection rates within school.
Secondary aged students may still be requested to use facemasks on public transport and dedicated transport to school or college. Please discuss this with your child’s driver and escort where applicable.
- We will maintain enhanced cleaning regimes as per risk assessment, including regular cleaning of areas and equipment (for example, twice per day).
- Ensure good hygiene for everyone:
- This will include good hand hygiene as per our risk assessment. Students will be encouraged to wash hands regularly and use hand sanitiser which will continue to be available at regular points in the school
- The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach will be in place with use of extra bins in classrooms
- We will keep occupied spaces well ventilated
- Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19
If a student already has routine care needs that involve the use of PPE, the same PPE should continue to be used.
Additional PPE for COVID-19 is only required in a very limited number of scenarios, for example, when performing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).
- When someone develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test they should not come into school
- The DfE advises that if anyone in school develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, they will be sent home and they should follow public health advice.
- If a student is awaiting collection, they will be asked to wait away from other students in a well ventilated, designated space with a member of staff wearing appropriate PPE. This room will be cleaned after they have left.
- New students will be sent a consent form separately; we will only test your child if you complete a consent form or have completed one at Birch Wood last academic year.
- If you have previously consented and now wish to withdraw your consent for in school testing please email Anita Lees, email@example.com
- Secondary age students should then continue to test twice weekly at home during the autumn and spring terms, after which this will be reviewed.
- Staff should undertake twice weekly home tests for the foreseeable future. Testing will increase depending on contact with a confirmed case.
- We recognise that self-swabbing may cause significant concerns for some children and young people with SEND. Birch Wood will retain minimal testing capacity on site so we can offer testing to students and families who are unable to test themselves at home.
Testing is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless informed consent has been given by the appropriate person.
- Staff and students with a positive LFD test result should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance. They will also need to get a free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to check if they have COVID-19.
- Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the individual should continue to self-isolate.
- If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test and the individual can return to their setting, as long as the individual doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Those with a negative LFD test result can also continue to attend school or college.
- All sites will return to their normal start and finish times for all students from the beginning of term:
- Birch Wood Grange Drive 9am- 3.30am:
- Parents who bring their child to school will be invited to wait in the gym until a familiar staff member comes to collect their child.
- Those students arriving by LA transport in EYFS, KS1, 2CD, 2MH and all autism provision classes- will enter via the main reception door (not the EYFS playground)
- Those students arriving by LA transport in 2HOM, KS3, KS4 & KS5- will enter via the far right hand side of the school
- Birch Wood Vale and Ashton House 8.50-3.20- Students should enter via the playground gate where they will be greeted by staff
If you have any further questions, please do contact school where a member of SLT or your child’s class teacher/form tutor will be happy to speak to you.