You will be aware that the NI Executive met over the Christmas break to discuss restrictions in schools and the wider community in light of the changing health landscape. The Department of Health has revised its guidance on self-isolation for close contacts.
Fully-vaccinated close contacts of a positive case who are asymptomatic will no longer be required to take a PCR test. They are instead advised to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test as soon as possible and continue to take daily lateral flow tests until the tenth day after the last date of contact with the positive case; pupils who fall into this category may continue to come to school should those tests be negative.
However, pupils who are symptomatic, whether close contacts or not, should follow health advice on testing and not come into school until cleared to do so. Symptoms are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature), or;
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual), or;
- anosmia – the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell (it can also affect your sense of taste).
In such cases, pupils must self-isolate and take a PCR test.
The NI Executive has also announced a change to the rules on self-isolation for positive cases, reducing the period from 10 days to seven, providing the individual has negative LFD results on both days 6 and 7 with tests taken 24 hours apart.
Further details on testing can be found here: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-selfisolating-and-close-contacts
Operationally, there is no change in school. Our emphasis in Bloomfield is on:
- good hand hygiene;
- use of face-coverings;
- consistent groups where possible.
However, while we can try our best to send out clear messages to our pupils when in school, we have no control over what happens beyond the school gates, and so I would ask you to reinforce with your child the need for her to reduce social contacts, act responsibly and think of others at all times. This includes on public transport, where masks should be worn unless exempt.
Currently, only two members of staff are absent for Covid-19 related issues, but that may change. We want all teaching to remain face-to-face as far as possible, and will contact you directly should we be in a position where pupils are required to remain at home.
Parental consultations will be held on Wednesday 12th January for Year 11 and Thursday 13th January for Year 13. These will be remote and details of how to book appointments were circulated before Christmas. Booking for Year 11 opens tomorrow (5th January) and for Year 13 on Thursday (6th January). Parents who have not registered for Parent Pay have been sent a text message reminder.
At the gates this morning, both Mr Mulholland and I were struck by how smart the overwhelming majority of our pupils looked as they arrived in school. However, there remains a small minority who continue to flout school rules persistently. The reputation of our school is incredibly important to us, and the presentation of our pupils as they make their way to and from school is central in creating and maintaining that positive image in the community. Please ensure that your child leaves home dressed in school uniform only, and that the uniform is worn correctly.
This will be our last newsletter sent via text message. From now on, all regular communication will be via Parent Pay. The overwhelming majority of parents have signed up to this system; thank you. I would urge those of you who have not to do so as soon as possible. Please note that you can register for the system for communication purposes only should you wish; contact Mrs Craig in our Finance Office should you require further guidance. Text messages will continue to be used for urgent notifications such as school closure due to snow.
I would again encourage you to arrange pick-up and drop-off from a suitable agreed venue away from the front of school as Astoria Gardens is a narrow cul-de-sac; parents should not enter the school grounds to park or turn unless by prior arrangement e.g. collecting an ill child or transporting a pupil on crutches.
Also, as the year progresses more of our Sixth form pupils will pass driving tests and become car owners. Please remind all drivers to be considerate of our neighbours when parking, ensuring that there is room for pedestrians to pass and for members of the local households to safely drive their own cars in and out of their front gates.
Thanks to Leah from https://thewhitelighthousefurniture.co.uk/ and Derek from http://www.carrollsglass.co.uk/ who have kindly sponsored the purchase of new training fleeces for the 1st XI hockey squad.
On behalf of the staff and Governors of Bloomfield Collegiate School, may I wish you and your family a healthy and happy 2022.