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Return to School - 8th March

An update about the planned return to school.

23rd February 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

Re: Return to School

I hope this letter finds you safe and well. I am sure you watched or have read about the Government announcement on Monday 22nd February. The roadmap to lift lockdown restrictions, and eventually all Covid-19 safety measures, now has a timeframe and certain criteria that must be met. The extremely positive news is that schools can reopen from 8th March and we are delighted to be in a position to welcome pupils back.


Why are we reopening?

Consistent success is being reported around the world with the vaccine and this brings a significant increase in protection for the most vulnerable, and reduced transmission rates for all. The vaccination has been administered at unprecedented speed and in huge numbers. Woodlane staff were offered the vaccine due to our close contact with vulnerable children. This has further reduced risk at the school for both pupils and staff. Due to the current lockdown and the impact of the vaccine, cases are falling rapidly everywhere and particularly in London. The number of people in hospital continues to fall too. It is now agreed that the risk has reduced substantially and children should return to school.

For a summary of the Government announcement, click here.


How are we reopening?

Our reopening planning sent before half term is still very much applicable but the latest announcement encourages us to move faster than anticipated. This comes with some challenges on-site which we will deal with, as we want all pupils back to school as soon as possible. The school day will return to normal, (9am - 3.25pm) with one minor exception, we kindly ask that pupils do not arrive until 8.30am to allow us to complete staff testing. Breakfast will be provided for those that arrive before 9am. Reopening will be as follows:

Key Stage 3: (Years 7, 8 and 9)
will return on Monday 8th March

Key Stage 4: (Years 10 and 11)
will return on Tuesday 9th March

These dates will be communicated with all transport providers, local authorities and other key partners. We will host a ‘return to school’ meeting via Teams on Friday 5th March at 1.30pm. An invite will be sent to all parents.


How are we ensuring the school is safe?

There is no argument that school is the best place for children to be for many different reasons, and we will continue to make the school day as safe as possible. Mass testing of staff and pupils will take place during the first week in school using Lateral Flow Testing, more information on which you can find below. Following this, home-testing kits will be made available for children. The return to school will take place carefully, with pupils remaining in tight bubbles initially while testing takes place. Social distancing, carefully controlled movement around the building, hand hygiene and bubble restrictions will remain in place during this half term at least.

Please read our risk assessment by clicking here.


Mass Testing in School:

Testing in school is optional, but I cannot stress the importance of this process. The safety and wellbeing of our pupils and staff is paramount, therefore the knowledge of a positive case allows us to protect or entire school community and ensure cases are contained.

Staff are being tested weekly and the new guidance expects pupils to be tested 3 times on their return. The phased return in the first week will support the school’s ability to run these tests on the following days:


Test 1

Test 2

Test 3

Key Stage 3: (Years 7, 8 and 9)

Monday 8th March

Thursday 11th March

Monday 15th March

Key Stage 4: (Years 10 and 11)

Tuesday 9th March

Friday 12th March

Tuesday 16th March

Consent forms have been sent home, and we have had a large number of parents return these to us by email or post. A copy has been sent again by email along with this letter but you can also request a posted copy, or alternatively call the school to complete the consent form verbally in approximately 2 minutes.

If you have questions about mass testing, I will look to answer all of these as quickly as possible. I will be hosting a vital Q&A about Mass Testing in School on Monday 1st March at 1.30pm. This will be part of our usual Parent Session on Firefly and a link will be sent to all parents, or it can be accessed through your child’s Firefly account.

Mass Testing is designed for those not currently showing symptoms, (asymptomatic). If your child has symptoms of Coronavirus, they must remain at home and seek a test through the Government website or by calling the NHS Covid-19 phone number: 119. If your child tests positive through in-school testing, they will be expected to be collected and return home to isolate for 10 days. Close contacts, (usually the class bubble) will also be required to isolate as before. Pupils will be provided with Live Learning and remote learning during periods of isolation.


Further information:

I hope this information is well-received, as we are truly delighted to be welcoming pupils back to school. If you have urgent questions, please email or call us at Woodlane. For more information about testing, I recommend all parents/carers attend the Q&A on Monday 1st March, and there will be lots of information for pupils and parents alike during the meeting on Friday 5th March.

Whilst this part of lockdown might be lifting, reopening schools is a balancing act. It is vital that all families continue to follow the guidance issued by Government. Apart from travel to school or work, (if you cannot work from home), the message remains stay at home. The new guidance does permit an individual to exercise or meet one other person outside for recreation and it is incredibly important for the safety of the school and the wider community that this is abided by. Please remember that one single case of Covid-19 brought in to school will cause the closure of class bubbles, or even the whole school.

In the coming days, I will write to you again, asking for some information on the work your child has completed during lockdown and their emotional wellbeing. This information will assist us in planning for the specific needs of each pupil on return.

Best wishes,
Tim Heapy
Interim Headteacher