January Covid Guidelines

January 2022

Dear Parents and Carers, 

Happy New Year! I hope you all managed a good break. 

We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to school tomorrow. You will be aware that the higher rates of covid means we need to be additionally cautious and careful with regards to our existing safety measures. Our top priority remains to be safe and to be open for all our students.

The new government guidance now strongly advises that if someone in your household tests positive for Covid, then children aged 5-18.5 years are requested to attend school, but undertake daily LFD testing for 7 days. Alternatively, children are advised to isolate for 10 days. At Birch Wood we know testing is very difficult for some children to accept and so will work with parents to help you on a case by case basis to support with testing wherever possible.

The guidance also now asks all Secondary age students to wear a face mask inside including in lessons. As a special needs school we ask students to do this where possible and understand that their needs may mean this is not appropriate.

As yet there has not been any alternative advice for SEND schools, but we will let you know if we get any alternative government guidance. 

As anticipated, our staff have been impacted by the high rates of infection, this has already led to increased rates of staff absence. In order to manage this it may mean that for a short time we need to work in a different way. I want to assure you that we will do everything to keep any disruption to a minimum, working flexibly to support each other, with safety always remaining in focus. 

I have every faith that our staff will continue to do their absolute best for our students and I am equally grateful for the support and understanding we have from families. Previous lockdowns have proven that for all children remote learning is no substitute for the classroom and this fact is only more evident in the world of SEND education. Put simply, our students need us to continue to work creatively together throughout the next couple of months. 

The following safety measures will be in place in school until the end of January 2022, when they will be reviewed: 

1. Face masks for staff indoors
2. Where possible secondary age students are requested to wear a face mask indoors including the classroom. 
3. Cleaning as we go
4. Regular hand sanitising 
5. Keeping a safe space from each other where possible.
6. Observing maximum room capacity
7. Ventilating rooms
8. Limiting mixing and students remaining in class groups where possible inside. 
9. Reduction in trips or activities that require extra staffing or mixing more (every effort will be made to keep therapeutic activities and curriculum in situ) 
10. Regular LFD testing
11. Stay up to date with vaccination where possible. 
12. Let us know if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case and take a PCR test ASAP, followed by daily LFD tests. 
13. At BWV for the next 4 days students will be classed based with teachers traveling to them in order to prevent groups unnecessarily moving around the building and potential mixing/contact indoors.

14. Limiting external visitors to school.

It would be extremely helpful if secondary age parents test their children at home and register this with us before returning to school tomorrow. This will have a hugely positive impact on keeping covid out of the building. We of course will be maintaining onsite testing facilities. Thank you in advance for your support with this. 

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us on our school emails.

 Best wishes for 2022. 

Yours sincerely 

Rosalind Hopkins