Coronavirus Update
Last updated 27th February 2021

The Return to School March 2021

Further to the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding the reopening of schools from Monday 8th March we are very much looking forward to welcoming our students back to school here are the details of the arrangements. There are some questions from parents at the bottom of the page. If you have a question, please do get in touch! 

Summary of Key Points
  1. The Government has stated that all students will return to in-person learning across England from Monday 8th March.
  2. The Government has provided 66 pages of full guidance for schools.
  3. We will return to school in a phased approach with students in Year 10,11,12 and 13 returning on Monday 8th
  4. Students in Year 7,8 and 9 will return on Monday 15th
  5. Before returning to school, students will be offered a Covid Test in a community test centre.
  6. We will be introducing some additional measures to minimise the risk of the virus entering the school and to maximise the safety of all members of our community.
  7. For parents of students in Year 11 and Year 13, details about awarding of qualifications were released yesterday in a 25 page decision document. An article by the chief regulator provides a useful summary. More details regarding the approach our school will take to gathering evidence for exam results will follow. 

Mr Shields has made a new video for families here!

Preventing Covid 19 entering the school

To support the primary aim of preventing the virus from entering the school, the following measures are in place. Some of these are new, like lateral flow testing, others are familiar to families already.

Surge Testing in CM13 area

You will be aware of reports of a case of the South African variant in the CM13 area of Brentwood. If you live or work in that area, please follow the guidance that you have been given.

Lateral Flow Testing

The government guidance instructs secondary schools to carry out three lateral flow tests onsite for those who provide consent before moving to home testing. In addition, it is a requirement for these students to secure a negative test before they can recommence onsite education.

For parents and students who consent to testing, we are pleased to say that Essex Local Authority have secured the option of a community test in place of the first of these tests. This provides parents the opportunity to support any students who have not yet had a test by attending with them. It also offers the opportunity to take the test at a time and date that suits you.

Years 10 to 13 will be offered a test between 4th and 7th March in order to return to school on 8th March.

Years 7 to 9 will be offered a test between 11th and 14th March in order to return to school on 15th March.

(This is the earliest that Essex are able to provide these tests. It is a very significant undertaking)

For those students who have consent for school onsite testing, two further tests will take place after their return to school.

After this, students will be provided with tests which should be used twice a week for home testing. We will provide these tests to students and allow them to bring them home to you. We will provide you with a date from which these should be used. Formal consent is not needed for home tests.  If students open a test, they have an obligation to complete and submit results in the time frame expected.

A letter will be coming to you soon from Essex to explain how to book the test and where their community sites are.

To be clear, if consent is not given, we will not test your son/daughter.

My son/daughter has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, do they still need a test?

Your son/daughter is exempt from testing during the 90 day period.  He/she can take a test, however, if test result is positive he/she must isolate for the usual 10 days.

 Continued Vigilance

We hope that the testing regime will offer additional protection to the school. However, the basic principles remain in place that students must not attend school if they are unwell, especially if they or any member of their household/support bubble have any of the recognised Covid 19 symptoms. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, please arrange a Covid-19 test at an NHS testing centre and keep your son/daughter at home.

Thank you for your help with this, and for reiterating the key messages of social distancing, hand washing and face masks rules outside and well as within school.

Travelling to and from school

Students should walk or cycle and should not walk in large groups. The widened path in Sawyers Hall Lane has much improved the social distancing and we will continue to stagger the finish time of the day. With Year 7 and 9 students finishing at 3pm, Sixth Former finishing from 11:50am as soon as their last lesson for the day is over and everyone else leaving after 3:10pm. 

The government’s guidance remains to minimise the use of public transport wherever possible. However, where it cannot be avoided students should wear masks and use hand gel and avoid sitting with students outside their family group or year group to limit their contacts. They should also show the utmost respect for members of the public who may be anxious about their own social distancing.

Before and after school

Our school grounds will be open from 7:30am and will stay open until 4:30pm each day, as usual. Homework club will be running. Other after school activities will mainly focus on assisting students in exam year groups to cover key topics and concepts. However, we will regularly review what additional opportunities can be made available. We are conscious that students have missed out on a great deal this year and we do want to offer as much as we can, but we will prioritise safety above all.

Social Distancing

There is no doubt that social distancing is a great challenge in schools and like many adults, secondary school age students do not have a particularly good grasp of what 2m is! We will continue to:

  • Arrange our classrooms and restaurants to maximise the space available.
  • Divide up the astroturf, pavilion, pods and playground provide ‘bubbles’ for students to stay in year groups.
  • Mark out queues so that students can line up socially distanced.
  • Not meet in large groups for collective worship. Please be assured that there will still be daily opportunities for prayer, tutor worship and collective worship via MS Teams and videos.

Additionally, we will be increasing the space available for our Sixth Form and separating Year 12 from Year 13 as we were towards Christmas. They will continue to have different breaks and lunchtimes and now have additional separate study spaces set up for them.

I would like to urge you all at this point to also speak to your son/daughter about the size of groups they socialise in during breaks and lunches. If one student tests positive that whole social group have to self isolate. If they can reduce the numbers that they are with it will reduce the likelihood that they are sent home for two weeks – more on this below.

Lunch Arrangements

Providing a variety of high-quality hot meals and snacks for over 1150 students and staff each day is a great joy for our school, but it is also a great challenge in the Covid cautious environment that we are working in. We will continue to use environmentally friendly disposable containers and adjust our arrangements to ensure that students are in year group bubbles and sit with friendship groups that reduce contacts. Staggered breaks and lunches will continue exactly as before. The students adapted well to the systems and in fact many of the arrangements will be kept even after Covid is behind us.

One-way systems

We will continue to use all the same one-way systems as we had in place before Christmas. Students and staff were well adapted to these and again, these may well stay in place once Covid is behind us. The advantage of the spring and summer term is that with the better weather it is possible to keep students outside for more of the time. Please keep speaking to your son/daughter about the significant advantages to ventilation and being outside. 

Use of face coverings

The government announced that as a temporary measure they wanted to increase the use of face coverings to include classroom activities. Schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed yesterday that this was not compulsory. In line with this we will continue to ensure that students wear masks in corridors and circulation spaces and toilets. Additionally, we will now be advising that they are worn in class. Students who wish to will be encouraged in doing so. We recognise the value of it, but we also recognise it is not easy to wear a mask for extended periods.

Please ensure that your son/daughter brings a clean mask (and a spare) into school each day. They should not wear the same mask for consecutive days. Thank you for your support in this.

Ventilation

We will continue to ventilate our school buildings as much as possible. To this end, students may wish to wear base layers on colder days. If required, coats may be worn in lessons – teachers will confirm when this is acceptable.

Uniform and sports kit

As was the case before Christmas, students should wear their sports kit on the days they have PE lessons.

Shielding

If your son/daughter has received a doctor’s letter advising them to shield, please send a copy to office@becketkeys.org before Monday 8th March. Remote learning provision via MS Teams will be made available for every lesson apart from Core PE for these students. You can read all about our Remote Learning provision here.

Please note: Government guidance is that in households where one person is shielding, students must still attend school. Students must only stay at home if they themselves are shielding.

Self-Isolation

Self-isolation procedures will remain in place. If we are told that a student has tested positive for Covid-19 we will identify all their contacts and ask them to self-isolate. This advice must be followed. Students will have to self-isolate in line with current government guidance. At present, this is for 10 days.

The student who tested positive must self-isolate and all the members of the household must do this as well.

We appreciate that instructions to self-isolate will be frustrating especially after a period of lockdown and particularly for those who are in exam years. However, we must make every effort to restrict the virus and self-isolating is a crucial element in this. We will provide a full curriculum for anyone self-isolating via MS Teams for every lesson apart from Core PE.

Seating Plans

As usual, teachers will use seating plans to ensure that we can track and trace accurately students who have been a close contact to any student who tests positive. As much as possible, teachers will spread students out and have them all facing the front.

Other prevention methods

Other prevention methods remaining of paramount importance (not already covered) include cleaning hands thoroughly and more often than usual and ensuring good respiratory hygiene for everyone through the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach. Our enhanced cleaning remains in place including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often.

 

 

Timetable

Period

P1

P2

Break

Tutorial

P3

P4

P5

P6

Timings

8.30-9.20

9.20-10.10

10.10-10.35

10.35-11.00

11.00-11.50

11.50-1.30

1.30-2.20

2.20-3.10

Y7

L-50

L-50

B-25

L-25

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

L-50

Y8

L-50

L-50

L-25

B-25

L-50

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

Y9

L-50

L-50

B-25

L-25

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

L-50

Y10

L-50

L-50

L-25

B-25

L-50

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

Y11

L-50

L-50

L-25

B-25

L-50

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

Y12

L-50

L-50

B-25

L-25

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

L-50

Y13

L-50

L-50

L-25

B-25

L-50

L-50

B-50

L-50

L-50

L = LESSON B=BREAK e.g. ‘L-50’ = a 50-minute lesson; ‘B-25’ = a 25-minute break

 

Any questions?

Contact school: office@becketkeys.org

Contact specific teachers: www.becketkeys.org/contact.php

Why can't students in Year 7,8 and 9 return with Year 10,11,12 and 13?

Students must be tested before returning to school. We are using the Essex Community Testing Programme which provides a priority for Year 10,11,12 and 13 students. It would not be possible to test every secondary school aged student in the entire county in time for them all to return on the 8th March. 

The community testing programme has many benefits:

  • Students can attend with their parents, if nervous.
  • Students can be tested with highly experienced colleagues before doing the test themselves in school and at home. 
  • Families can book tests at times and locations that suit them. 
  • A much favoured staggered start with Year 10,11,12 and 13 able to start attending all from 8th March. 
When will the full extra-curricular timetable restart?

We recognise the importance of extra-curricular clubs in providing much needed enrichment and enjoyment for students and we are keen to start this. However, there are those who believe the return date for school is early and risky. Adding extra curricular activities increases risk and so we want to take a cautious approach waiting to see if the return to school is a successful one before rushing into additional risks. 

Will the Easter Holiday be cancelled?

No! Students and staff need a break after a long period of working from home. Nearer the time, we will publish lists of activities for families who want to use them. 

Why do we still need to self-isolate? If we can take a test and see that we do not have the virus, surely we can return to school.

When the lateral flow testing scheme was first announced it was hoped that it would provide a way for students who were found to be a contact of an infected person to avoid self-isolation. However, as we have learned more about the new variants and how virulent they are the guidance has changed. Moreover, the tests themselves have been found to be less effective than was at first hoped. This British Medical Journal study found that lateral flow tests were only detecting 49% of infections in asymptomatic people. With such poor levels of accuracy it would be extremely dangerous to rely on them for 'test and release'. They are only useful as a way to spot unknown cases and we have to accept that they will not even spot half of them! Moreover, the BMJ study tested adults. It is expected that students will not be as good at testing themselves. 

Is Mr Shields making any more excellent videos?

Yes! 😊

Click here

 
My child has had a lateral flow test (LFT) outside school at a public testing centre, what should I do with the result?

If the result is negative, you do not need to do anything. However, if you receive a positive result email office@becketkeys.org.Please put your son/daughter’s name, form, date of test and test result in the subject line e.g. Fred Smith, 10HS, 1st March Positive

I am able to access and administer lateral flow testing outside of school. 

If you are competent and able to administer a LFT then that is fine. we would ask that you inform the school of any positive result by e-mail.

I live outside Brentwood. Can I access testing locally?

This is an ‘Essex’ Scheme. If you live in Essex, the offer is definitely open for you nearer to home. If you live outside of Essex, then you may need to come into Essex to access a test.

I am not consenting for my child to undertake Lateral Flow Testing in school. What will happen?

If you have not already done so, and feel happy to, please advise the school in writing via e-mail. Please do try and access testing in an environment you feel comfortable with, if you can. You might wish to give your son/daughter a note stating your non consent so that it can be shown. No student will be denied access to education.

My child has had a Covid diagnosis within the last 90 days should he/she have a lateral flow test?

Please advise the school at office@becketkeys.org if this applies to your son/daughter. Students in this category should attend school as normal and make it known to supervising staff they will not require a test. It would be prudent, though not compulsory, for students to carry a note confirming this fact. If students in this category take a test and test positive, they will have to complete the mandatory self-isolation (currently 10 days)!

I have been unable to access a test prior to the start date, what should I do?

Please send your son/daughter into school as normal, students will be tested in school. External testing is intended to reduce the number of tests needed to be done, make processes more manageable in school, reduce the number of cases coming into school and assist students in getting used to the process with their parents their to help them.

My son/daughter has a medical condition and cannot wear a face mask

People with a valid medical reason are exempted from wearing masks.  We would encourage mask wearing whenever possible. Please remember there will be outside breaks during the day when masks may be removed.

There is guidance on mask wearing for people with asthma on the Asthma UK site.  https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/what-should-people-with-asthma-do-now/should-i-wear-a-face-mask-or-face-covering/

There is also a link for help with face mask anxiety on their page.

If your son/daughter will not be wearing a face covering it would be prudent to carry an exemption note, downloadable from the asthma UK site, or a note from a parent. It is highly likely they will be asked to wear a mask during the course of the school day as not all staff will know every student’s individual circumstances. We also have a limited number of sunflower badges for students to wear (it is possible to get lanyards and badges yourself) which are a visual indication of exemption.

Login