Dear Parents and Carers,

The Return to School – September 2021

I hope that you have managed to enjoy a positive summer holiday.

We are looking forward to welcoming our pupils back, along with some new students across the school and a whole new Reception class, from Friday 3rd September.
Obviously, everyone is keen to get back to some sort of normality and colleagues and I feel optimistic about the forthcoming Autumn term – but we are also cautious. We will continue, however, to be mindful of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Whilst there are lots of reasons to be cheery and positive, this also needs to be tempered by a pragmatic and reasonably cautious approach to day-to-day life at The Bridge School. As ever, I will communicate with you in as transparent and proactive, timely way as I can as the term progresses, beginning with this letter that I hope is helpful and explains our approach.

Firstly, we all want a safe return to school and, as you would expect, we are continuing to update and amend our Risk Assessment in light of current government and Public Health England guidance. Full details can be found on our website very shortly. Links to the guidance that schools receive have received from the Department for Education are included in the Risk Assessment document.

Whilst we intend to run school as normally as possible, it is important that staff and students adopt a careful and sensible approach to day-to-day life in school. We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation carefully and reserve the right to ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ appropriate measures to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
At the start of term, the following will be in place:

• An (in school) asymptomatic testing programme for all students in years 6 to 11. These tests will take place on the 3rd of September and again on the 6th. Thereafter, all pupils are strongly encouraged to take two Lateral Flow tests per week at home. If you need test packs, please just let us know and we will send them home for you. Please note that we are totally aware that not all students will be able to manage this test and you do not need to contact the school to let us know this. Please be assured that we are asking for your permission to try to administer the test and will not do so unless this is received.

• The continued adoption of strong hygiene and cleaning procedures.

• We will continue to support those staff and students who are clinically extremely vulnerable – whilst your child is expected to attend school, if you have any particular concerns you are welcome to contact the Deputy Head, Tina in the first instance, tina.sharman@thebridgeschool.org.uk

• Face coverings – whilst not compulsory for students, any student wishing to wear face coverings will be fully supported and we would be very pleased if those pupils that are able could be encouraged to wear masks on school transport. In addition, we will continue with the use of our one-way system and split playground access times, as last year.

• Staff will continue to wear masks in public areas and visitors will also be asked to wear masks in public areas and when transitioning around the school.

• Expectations regarding positive cases and close contacts:

• Children up to the age of 18 years and 6 months do not have to self-isolate if they are in contact with someone who has a positive case. Instead, they can attend school as normal but must take a PCR test. If the PCR test is positive, then the child will be advised to isolate.

• Adults who are double vaccinated also do not have to isolate if they are in close contact of a positive case.

• Schools no longer have any responsibility for contact track and trace, but we will monitor any potential ‘outbreaks’ and respond appropriately, letting parents know if that is possible and helpful.

Vaccinations:

• Currently 12 to 15 year-olds have been advised that they are not entitled to a vaccination, although some pupils at our school have received vaccinations. There is, however, some speculation in the media that guidance from the Joint Vaccination Committee will change. We will obviously keep you informed of any plans provided by the government.

Finally, we continue to look to the future with masses of optimism, but the truth is, nobody is certain how events will play out in the upcoming weeks, so we need to be our toes and react to what comes our way. This BBC news article provides some useful information in what seems to be a balanced and helpful manner.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-58334835

In light of all of the above, The Bridge School will continue to adopt a positive and proactive approach to your child’s safety and educational opportunities. The school is in a good place in terms of facilities, staffing and teaching and learning and we can’t wait to be able to really get on with the job!

With your support, we are confident that we will meet and overcome any challenges that arise this coming year. Please tell us when we miss something or get it wrong, and we’ll take action to make corrections.

Kind regards,

Hazel Simmons
Headteacher