To all Wyvern Academy Parents and Carers,
We are now at the end of the second week of operating under the new lockdown conditions and I am writing to give you a brief update.
After the announcement on Monday 4th January this year that we were going into lockdown, the school again had to work to get a clear picture of the number of staff we now had available, before being able to make place offers for pupils. This we achieved for just under 60% of pupils but it had to be done whilst establishing a whole school risk assessment, which was being scrutinised by unions who were actively talking to our staff.
As I said in my last message to you in a post on my blog on the school website on the 5th, we have had to be more fully open than mainstream schools so it was necessary to rapidly establish trust in our working arrangements.
Last week we also commenced lateral flow (LFD) testing with staff. This was a major operation involving several non-class staff and taking over the school hall. Schools were given extensive and comprehensive guidance on how to do this and I am proud to say that the process set up at Wyvern is extremely professional.
I also have to report that at the end of last week on the Friday, we got one positive result. The very first case we have had in this school. The individual immediately left the building and booked a confirmatory PCR test at a drive through centre, as specified in the guidance, as the LFD result requires this. Any students or staff who were in any way considered to be a potential contact were also sent home to isolate and the rooms affected were cleaned, ‘fogged’ with antiviral mist and locked. Later in the weekend we received the PCR test result which confirmed the positive result and this resulted in one class bubble being closed for 10 days. At every point in this school has taken the most cautious protective measures.
Whilst it is obviously regrettable, we knew we were one of the only schools locally that had not had a case before Christmas, so given the rising case rates in Dorset, it was probably an inevitability. LFD testing is asymptomatic and the individual with the positive result had no symptoms and no idea that they might test positive. They are still completely well and continuing to self-isolate, in accordance with the rules.
This has shown us that the lateral flow testing is a very effective early warning. Had we not been doing this we would have had no idea this staff member was COVID positive, and nor would they. Because we have set up our testing facility in school completely ‘by the book’, we can expect the highest accuracy results that this method can give as we have quality assurance at every stage.
This case has also shown that the risk assessment measures in school, including strict adherence to staffing class bubbles, has effectively limited the potential number of people who would have been at risk. At the start of the pandemic, a situation like this would have resulted in full school closure. That would have been devastating for many, many families and children. We continue to test all staff in school weekly and secondary-age pupils’ parents have recently been written to, to ask consent for pupil testing to start as well.
We will be constantly reviewing our place offers to try to increase the number of pupils we can offer days in school to from now on and will be in touch directly as soon as we can.
If your child does not yet have any days in school, the weekly contact call or email from your child’s class teacher has also begun, as it did in the last lockdown. This is an opportunity to check-in with you and ask some specific questions about how things are at home. Our school nurses, Amy and Jane and our Parent Support Advisor, Ann-Marie will be making contact with their list of families as well.
Until my next update, please stay safe everyone and follow all the national guidance.