Dear Parents, Carers, and Families,

I hope this finds you well as we end the first week of the Spring Term. There is a collective responsibility to the safety of this school community. Our children are highly vulnerable, and so are specific members of our staff team. Thank you to the majority of you who consider the needs of the community in your decision making. I recognise that many of you consider this beyond government guidance measures.

Our week has ended with 3 positive COVID-19 cases through PCR results. Two of the three cases were for pupils that returned to school within their quarantine period following travel abroad. This has exposed the pupils in the class, class staff team, specialist team members, NHS therapists, Caterlink lunch staff, and leadership team to COVID-19 when completely avoidable. This undermines our efforts with extensive safety measures, and our problem solving of 43 staff absences at the start of the week to ensure classes were learning in school. We complete a comprehensive risk assessment process with Public Health England when positive COVID-19 cases are confirmed. The process is time consuming and an example of impact due to these cases is the closure of our timetable for sensory rooms and soft play rooms today and Monday, and changes in our lunchtime and playground schedules to ensure the two classes are in a full isolated bubble. It also means 24 staff members have to take daily lateral flow tests for 10 days, and risk of classes moving to remote learning due to the potential spread of COVID-19. We have limited scope to plan for Monday due to potential symptom development over the weekend, which makes it difficult for families to plan in advance because updates to families get confirmed after the Sunday evening lateral flow test. 

Our Autumn term ended with a rise in numbers highlighting the omicron variant. This letter provides 5 reminders. I should not have to provide this but cannot risk additional issues as we navigate an already complex start to the Spring Term with the national numbers for Omicron. 

1.    COVID-19 Symptoms: There are three common symptoms for COVID-19. Persistent coughing, high temperature, and change or loss of taste/smell. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/coronavirus-in-children/

-    If your child develops 1 of the 3 symptoms of COVID-19: they should not be sent to school. They need to self-isolate and take a PCR test through this link: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test Please let us know and we can support you.

2.    Self-Isolation Period Changes: The government reduced the self-isolation period for positive COVID-19 cases from 10 days to 7 if the day 6 and day 7 lateral flow test results are negative. However: the guidance also clearly states that if self-isolation ends early due to two negative lateral flow test results the person with COVID-19 should “limit contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19”. This is our school population so please do not presume that our staff will return after day 7. We assess this on an individual basis based on their recovery from COVID-19. Pupils that test positive will be required to self-isolate for 10 days because of the need for support with day to day self-care and inability to socially distance independently. 

It is important to read this information in full: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

3.    Travel Abroad: If you travel abroad it is your responsibility to read the guidance from the government. Those guidance measures and requirements can change and are your responsibility. Any decisions you make should also be considered in terms of our school because we are a special needs school for pupils with vulnerable profiles. It is breaking the law when ignoring quarantine requirements.  

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19

4.    Lateral Flow Testing: Lateral flow testing is used when there are no symptoms of COVID-19. This is called ‘asymptomatic’ testing. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/regular-rapid-coronavirus-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms/

You received a letter on 16th December and a home test kit. https://swisscottage.camden.sch.uk/news/2021-12-16-contact-tracing-and-home-testing

- We are recommending an adjustment to the dates for home testing next week. Please complete your child’s nasal home test on Sunday evening and then on Wednesday evening. This will match our testing dates for the staff. 
- There is a change in government guidance. If your child tests positive on the lateral flow test kit, they self-isolate and do not need a PCR test. Please let us know and we can support you. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/confirmatory-pcr-tests-to-be-temporarily-suspended-for-positive-lateral-flow-test-results
- We provided test kits and have limited reserves. We need to ensure we have enough test kits for the staff to complete their testing across this Spring Term. If you need additional home test kits please use this link: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

5.    Safety Measures: We put extensive safety measures in place and these have evolved throughout the stages of the pandemic. The current summary of safety measures includes measures to avoid COVID-19 entering this community and avoiding the spread. The summary of safety measures is located here: https://swisscottage.camden.sch.uk/our-school/school-safety-measures

If you have any questions about these 5 summary points after reading the relevant weblinks – please email admin@swisscottage.camden.sch.uk and we will aim to provide you with updates on Monday.  

Our focus as a school team is on the curriculum, teaching, and progress for your children through meaningful and enjoyable learning as we balance numerous safety measures. We are running the school today with high staff absences, 1 class in remote learning, increased anxieties within staff teams due to the avoidable positive cases for two pupils, and elevated lateral flow testing this morning. Our efforts remain relentless to protect this community, and I thank you in advance for understanding why this update was shared.
 
Yours Sincerely,

Vijita Patel
Principal

Click here to download a printable version of this letter.

Additional Information: 

Evidence for Learning (EfL): Evidence for Learning is the secure online system we use to share key learning for your child. Teachers will upload your child’s EfL journal on the following dates across the Spring Term. This is scheduled around the February half term holiday week. 
•    Friday, 14th January 2022
•    Friday, 28th January 2022
•    Friday, 11th February 2022
•    Friday, 4th March 2022
•    Friday, 18th March 2022
•    Thursday, 31st March 2022 

Contact your class teacher if you need any support to access your child’s secure EfL journal. 

Reminder of Term Dates: https://swisscottage.camden.sch.uk/parents/termdates
Tuesday, 4th January: Start of Spring Term for pupils
Friday, 28th January: Staff Training Day – no school for pupils
Friday, 11th February: Last day of Half Term 
Monday, 13th February to Friday, 17th February: Half Term Holiday – no school for pupils
Monday, 21st February: Pupils return to school 
Friday, 1st April: Last day of Spring Term 
Monday, 4th April to Monday, 18th April: Spring Holiday – no school for pupils
Tueday, 19th April 2022: Start of Summer Term for pupils 

The Spring Term Camden Special Parents Forum calendar and event flyers are located below.