A Letter from the Headteacher

Thursday 25th February 2021

Dear parents, carers and students,

Click here to watch a recorded audio-visual version of this information. 

In this letter, you will read about the arrangements for students’ staggered return to school, from Monday 8 March.  There is a lot of information here, so please take your time to read it.

St Marylebone’s plans are informed by the Department for Education (DfE)guidance and by advice from the Westminster Public Health team. We are also updating our risk assessment, which will be available should you wish to see it.  

This letter includes:

  1. Protective measures on-site to reduce the risk of spreading the virus
  2. Who should not come on-site
  3. Voluntary asymptomatic covid-testing using lateral flow tests
  4. Schedule for the staggered return to school
  • Protective measures on-site to reduce the risk of spreading the virus

Most of the arrangements on-site will be the same as they were in Terms 1 and 2, as were set out in the Home School Agreement you completed in September.  This includes:

  • students in year group bubbles, based in zones around the two sites
  • different lunchtimes, toilets, gates and departure times for different year groups
  • hand-sanitising and disinfecting of all surfaces in all rooms
  • social distancing wherever possible
  • face-coverings worn in communal areas, corridors and staircases
  • food and drink brought to school or lunch-bags pre-ordered
  • collective responsibility for the health and safety of everyone

For the return to school in March, the Department for Education requires an additional measure:

  • face coverings should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons. … These measures will be in place until Easter.

We know some students are exempt from wearing a face-covering.  Students who are exempt should wear a pink lanyard, provided by the School, which is visible to staff so that they don’t need to be questioned about wearing a face-covering.  If your child is exempt, and does not yet have a pink lanyard,  they should bring a note with them when they return to school, from a parent / carer to the Form Tutor, who can then send them to get a pink lanyard.  Students can of course remove their face-coverings when eating and drinking and when doing an activity which is inhibited by wearing a face-covering.  

People from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
The School has introduced a wide range of protective measures to minimise health risks that apply to all staff, students and their households.  We know that some groups of people, including those from BAME backgrounds, may have concerns about being more at risk from COVID.  As a diverse and inclusive community, it is really important to respect this heightened concern.  This is why it is very important that everyone respects and follows the protective measures in place.  

  • Who should not come on-site

Visitors

We will not have any visitors to the school sites until further notice, except for essential maintenance, safety, safeguarding or other official reasons.   Parents / carers are asked not to come to school hoping to talk to one of the staff.  Please contact us by phone or email in the first instance.  On our website here, we explain who to contact about what. 

Shielding staff and students

Anyone who has recently received an NHS shielding letter must not come on-site, unless they have formal written notification from their medical specialist which says that they do not have to shield.  If your child is shielding and you think we do not know about this, please contact the Form Tutor, Head of Year and Ms Hyams, who oversees our medical needs register: l.hyams@stmaryleboneschool.com.

 

In addition, the following people must not come on-site, under any circumstances:

  • anyone with COVID-19 symptoms
  • anyone living with someone with COVID-19 symptoms
  • anyone who is self-isolating having tested positive for COVID-19
  • anyone who is self-isolating because someone they live with has tested positive for COVID-19
  • anyone who is self-isolating as a contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • anyone who should be quarantining following a return from overseas from a country which is not exempt from this measure 

If your child is going to be absent for any reason, please follow the usual procedures: call 020 7935 4704 or, even better, use the MyEd app.   If your child gets a positive COVID-19 test result, please also inform the Form Tutor and Head of Year.  

  • Voluntary asymptomatic covid-testing using lateral flow tests

Please read this with care so that you understand what is being offered.  

As per the ask from the DfE,  the School has set up a safe and well-managed on-site lateral flow test facility.  Testing is not mandatory and no-one is obliged to be tested.  Parental consent must be given for students in Years 7 to 11. Staff and 6th Formers can give consent for themselves.   Consent will also enable home-testing once on-site testing has taken place.  

The idea of the programme is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.  We are asked to test students on their return to school.  We will then offer a second test, a few days after students have returned, and will be in touch with families about a third test.  

The tests involve a swab to the back of the throat and one nostril.  Students swab themselves, supported by trained staff.  A test result is produced in 30 minutes.  If a positive result is received, the student’s parent / carer will be informed and the next steps will be taken to support that student and to identify proximity contacts.   This link explains more.

Having run this programme for staff and students on-site for a few weeks, we know we can do it in a safe and supportive way.  However, the logistics of this testing programme for a school our size mean that we have to stagger the days on which students will return to school and be on-site. On the days on which their year group is being tested, students will attend school only if they are being tested, rather than having students coming in and out of lessons all day and to help manage the emotions and anxieties which can build up in a classroom of students anticipating a test and a result.  On their year group’s testing day, students will not attend lessons on-site or online; independent learning activities will be set.  This is the case whether or not a student is taking part in testing on-site.   This is so that we can effectively manage and support the testing day for that year group.  

Parents / carers should already have received a letter about this with a link to a consent form.  Testing is voluntary. No-one will be tested without consent. There are also local testing centres where students can be tested in addition to or outside of the School’s testing facility.  Indeed, the School does not have capacity to test all students in all year groups.  Please look out for the consent letter from the School.  

  • Schedule for the staggered return to school

There are two main reasons why we are staggering students’ return to school:

  • We want to welcome students back to school in a calm and supportive way, which will include reminding them of all the ways we are working together to keep each other safe.  After months out of the school environment, we would prefer to reintroduce students a couple year-groups at a time.  The DfE asks us to prioritise Years 10 – 13.

  • As explained above, we are asked to offer covid-testing to students before their return to school, and those taking part will have a second test also. We cannot test over 1100 students on Monday 8 March.  It will take a few days to offer tests to all year groups.

As such, the schedule for the staggered return to school and for the first 8 school days looks like this:

Date

Year group attending for testing only

In lessons on-site

Mon 8 March

Y10 and Y11 (first tests)

no-one

Tue 9 March

Y12 and Y13 (first tests)

Years 10 and 11

Wed 10 March

Y7 and Y8 (first tests)

Years 10, 11, 12, 13

Thu 11 March

Y9 first test and Y11 second test

Years 7, 8, 10, 12, 13 

Fri 12 March

Y10 and Y12 (second tests)

Years 7, 8, 9, 11, 13 

Sat 13

   

Sun 14

   

Mon 15 March

Y13 and Y8 (second tests)

Years 7, 9, 10, 11, 12

Tue 16 March

Y7 and Y9 (second tests)

Years 8, 10, 11, 12, 13

Wed 17 March

– 

Everyone in school in lessons.*

   

Year groups will be tested separately.  When we have received all the consent forms and know how many students we are testing, we will be able to issue test time slots to everyone who has signed up.  We cannot do this until we have received the completed consent forms, so if you want your child to be tested, please complete the consent form as soon as you can.  If you are a 6th Former who wants to be tested, please complete the consent form as soon as you can.

Once again: on the day their year group is being offered testing, they only attend school for the test, then return home. Independent learning activities will be set for that day, to enable learning to continue without being interrupted all day by the testing schedule. 

*Note: Wednesday 17 March was to be Academic Review Day 2, but we will now postpone this until Wednesday 28 April, so that we can get lessons underway.  

————-

We are really looking forward to students returning to the school sites.   On their assigned return-date, they should arrive before 8.30am at their assigned gate, in full school uniform as usual, ready to learn.

We realise that this is yet another transition after months of disruption in everyone’s lives.  However, over the last year, St Marylebone students and staff have shown remarkable can-do and resilience and I am confident that this next return to school can be done in that positive spirit.   We will continue to do our best to provide a great experience of school life and education.  

Thank you for your support.

Best regards,

Ms Pugh

Headteacher