January Return and on site testing
8 December 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
As we have become accustomed to over the last 2 years, the national situation with COVID still has the potential to bring about disruption to everyday lives, and more specifically in this case to education. Following the Prime Minister’s briefing on Saturday 27th November regarding the Omicron variant, the Department for Education updated their operational guidance to school, with the most publicised change being the reintroduction of face masks in communal settings which I wrote to you about earlier in the week. This letter focuses on the changes to plans for January that we are having to make as a result of the return of on-site testing.
How is testing linked to the school reopening?
Similarly to the return of students in January, March and September the DfE is asking for students to have had one negative test result carried out under supervision at school before they return to school or college in January 2022.
The mandatory testing has been imposed by the Government in response to the new variant. We will therefore once again be hosting an Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) site here at school. We strongly encourage students to use this facility as results are more reliable in controlled settings, this being the reason for the Government asking schools to do this. We are currently recruiting a testing team which will work in a similar way that it has worked previously.
It is entirely likely, as was the case last winter, that schools as a part of wider society will see a surge of cases in January based on additional mixing leading to an increase in community transmission over the Christmas break. One in three people who are infected will have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic) and therefore will spread infection without realising it. This is why on-site testing before students return is so important, and is another reason why the Government has made this a mandatory requirement for the return of schools in January. As a consequence of this requirement, the Department for Education has confirmed that schools can delay or stagger starts in January if this is necessary in order to test all students.
To test 1300 students effectively, we will need two clear days from the end of the Christmas holidays. With Monday 3rd January being a bank holiday, the testing will take place on-site during Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th January.
This will mean that students will now return to school on Thursday 6th January as opposed to the originally planned return date of Wednesday 5th January.
There will be specific days and times for specific year groups. All those who consent will be given a test slot.
Following this, it is also important that all students participate in twice weekly LFD testing on a Monday and Thursday evening. School will continue to supply the test kits. Students (parents) need to submit the test result on the Student Portal and on NHS Track and Trace (https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result).
Students should continue to test over the holidays in line with national guidance. This means that they should test if they will be in a high-risk situation that day, and before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19.
Is testing voluntary?
Testing is voluntary and your child will not be tested unless they (if they are aged over 16) or you (or another parent/carer) have given informed consent. We strongly encourage you and your child to take part, to help us break chains of transmission and manage the virus, given the potential spike in infections in January. Your child will not be stopped from returning to school if you or they choose not to be tested, and will return to face-to-face education in line with our published timetable.
When are the tests going to take place at Holyhead?
Please check the schedule below. If you do give consent, please only come in when prompted with your appointment time on the day shown as ‘Test (then back home)’. It will be very unsafe if students all turn up at the same time or turn up when we don’t expect them.
If you do not consent to a test, your child needs to attend for the first time on Thursday 6th January.
|Year 7||Year 8||Year 9||Year 10||Year 11||Year 12||Year 13|
|Test (then back home)||Tues 4th January||Tues 4th January||Tues 4th January||Wed 5th January||Wed 5th January||Wed 5th January||Wed 5th January|
What should you do if you have COVID symptoms?
Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in this programme or not, should book a free NHS test and follow government self-isolation guidance until the results of their test are known. If you have any questions about the asymptomatic testing programme please speak to us.
The consent process – An urgent next step!
We need to know how many parents will be providing consent. It is vital that we know early if we need to expand our capacity for the testing site or change the dates.
We need to know if you are providing consent by noon on Friday 10th December.
Please provide consent using the link below:
(If you have previously provided consent there is no requirement to complete the form again. An appointment slot will be communicated to you via email.)
We will remind you via SMS on Friday morning.
Our mass testing section of the website can be accessed here:
This page also includes our Privacy Statement which explains what happens with your data.
Once we have a list of parents who have provided consent, we will send you an appointment slot.
If your child tests positive during their visit we will contact you on the same day and you will need to arrange a PCR test. The result will need to be forwarded to the school using the following email address: email@example.com
If the PCR test is negative, your child can return to school. If the PCR test confirms a positive result then your child will need to self isolate in accordance with government guidance.
This is another huge logistical undertaking for a school. Whilst it is not our area of specialism, we have become more accustomed to these requirements. We will do everything we can to try and ensure we make school as safe as possible. Please support us to support you, and ensure we get registration and appointments running smoothly.
Thanks for your continued support, and we wish you and your family good health.