Bloomfield Collegiate News
I wish to inform you that a further two members of our school community have tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday. As with earlier in the week, I have sought the most up-to-date advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) and would like to again assure you that I am following its advice at every stage. My apologies if some of this letter repeats what was sent previously, and that it is arriving on a Sunday morning. This is an unprecedented time in all schools, and I know that you can appreciate how difficult it is for school leaders, but be assured that I will take every precaution possible to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff.
PHA and EA guidance states that pupils in close proximity to the positive case should selfisolate for fourteen days. The definition of close proximity is “people with whom you have been in direct contact, or been within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes”; direct contact is also explained as face-to-face within 1 metre for more than a minute. PHA advises that schools take account of contact up to 48 hours prior to symptoms developing or, when a pupil is asymptomatic, 48 hours prior to being tested.
In practice, this means that not all pupils in a class with a pupil who tests positive need to be asked to self-isolate. It is school policy to proactively ask pupils we consider to be close contacts to go home until further information is provided by PHA. If you are not contacted by the school initially, and then PHA, then your child was not deemed to be in close contact with the positive case and your child is free to return to school. Please be aware that the PHA deal with contacts outside of school hours.
Where a close contact is instructed to self-isolate by PHA, it is currently for 14 days. A pupil who is positive must self-isolate for 10 days from the first symptom. This is clearly explained in the letter provided by PHA. It is also our policy not to identify the pupil involved to all parents. However, it is possible that the name of any pupil who tests positive will be shared amongst peers and friends. If you have concerns regarding your child being a close contact, please contact school.
I contacted EA, PHA and EA Clean (the EA cleaning service) again on Friday regarding the two new cases. Their advice was to again send home close contacts. However, on this occasion, EA clean have asked that the rooms used by the pupils on Thursday be sealed until an enhanced clean takes place on Monday. We are using this as an opportunity to provide an enhanced clean for all rooms in the Year 8 and 9 bubbles, and so, after having spent most of this weekend trying to find suitable alternatives, I am asking that all pupils in Years 8 & 9 remain at home on Monday 12th October to facilitate precautionary cleaning. While I appreciate the inconvenience for some parents, I am pleased that our current procedures have ensured that we have not had to ask full year groups to isolate for two weeks to date.
We in Bloomfield have been fortunate to avoid largescale outbreaks thus far, and am glad that there seems to be no evidence of transmission within school. However, it would be naïve not to be prepared for further cases. With that in mind, our current protocols and risk assessments are constantly under review by me and the Senior Leadership Team and you will be contacted if any changes are made.
On Friday, much of our time was spent responding to queries from parents who had heard, via their child/ward, of positive tests before we had an opportunity to contact those who needed to be informed. When a positive case is reported, protocols take over and mean that the rest of the day and beyond is focused solely on this issue. With this in mind, it would be most helpful if you would trust that we will contact you as and when we need to, and reinforce with your child that mobile phones are only to be used at the times outlined in our policy.
The proximity tracing app has now been released for 11 to 17-year-old children. The Department of Health has worked with the Commissioner for Children & Young People, the Information Commissioner’s Office and representatives from the Children’s Law Centre in order to ensure appropriate and safe access to the app for younger people, within the legal constraints of GDPR and safeguarding. PHA has informed schools that the adult version of the app is alerting up to four close contacts for every positive case identified and are eager that the uptake for the children’s version will be equally as effective. PHA told us that this will save lives. To this end, if your child brings a phone to school you may wish to encourage them to download and use the app. The use of this app is not mandatory in school.
If your child/ward is self-isolating for any reason, she will be expected to engage in schoolwork unless too ill to do so; if this is the case, please let us know. The initial lock-down from March allowed us to develop our online learning capacity, and now all departments are using MS Teams as the main platform for working from home; the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, including Teams, Word, Outlook and One Note, is available to all pupils via MySchool (see https://bloomfieldcollegiate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Online-Learning.pdf).
Working from home may take a variety of forms including: provision of notes, worksheets and presentations; submission and return of home works; videos or live lessons; retrieval practice and extension tasks. Please be mindful that the majority of lessons will not involve synchronous teaching, and that school attendance marks are dependent on pupil engagement with the work set.
Finally, I would like to thank the staff and pupils for the largely exemplary way in which we have been able to open and run the school. Also, thank you, parents/guardians, for your support in what is a worrying and difficult time. Please continue to help us by reinforcing the need for your child to adhere to key principles – wear a mask, wash hands, maintain a distance.
Mr G Greer