COVID – What happens if there is a positive case?

11th September 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope that this letter finds you well and that you and your families are navigating the restrictions around Covid as best you can.

I want to start by thanking you all for your support and patience. The community at Newman College has had far more to deal with than Covid alone and it has tested the very fabric of our community. That said, it has made us stronger and reaffirmed our commitment to the service of our young people. The staff have all benefited from the messages of support and thanks from parents during this difficult time and it has been fantastic to see the school fully occupied again. It will however, not be lost on you that both the college and society have changed dramatically over the last 6 months. Our core function may be the same, but the environment in which we operate has been altered in a significant way.

The maturity and patience of students has been a sight and source of pride to all at the college. They have conducted themselves with decorum and committed to their learning in a way that has humbled the staff. Our Covid adjustments are standing up to the routines of 1500 young people and ‘bubbles’ are becoming well drilled and remain separated. The use of face coverings, which is restricted to only movement and circulation spaces, has been conducted professionally by the students and staff with all accepting it is to keep each other safe. Obviously, where exceptions have to be made for individuals, these have been accommodated. Please do encourage your child to bring and use a face covering if appropriate. This hopefully sets out how positive the return and first full week has been for us. Any areas of difficulty have been evaluated and solutions sought. We are incrementally building up our offer and looking to return to full experiences in PE and other practical subjects as best we can using the Department for Education guidance. Our canteen is to offer more meals and a wider offer ensuring that, wherever you are served, the offer remains the same at each location. Finally, we hope to introduce some extracurricular opportunities in the near future. Despite this, it will not be lost on parents that some schools have already had to take action to restrict attendance or send year groups home for the prescribed isolation period. I wish to set out now, how Newman will respond and manage this.

We have broken this down in to the 3 C’s.

Care – We will continue to do all we can to safeguard staff and students health, wellbeing and academic support, only taking action where instructed to do so to protect lives. We know this is difficult for parents and students and that many of the messages in the media are worrying or contradictory. We want to concentrate on credible guidance from Government and the need to remind ourselves that at the centre of each concern, is a family or young person seeking comfort.

Control – We have clear, well defined systems and have done much work in the background to be able to accommodate any changes to operation. We continue to insist on the use of face covers where appropriate, hand sanitiser and the operation of bubbles within the college. There is high staff presence and we continue to offer support to those who may be finding this difficult.

Commitment – We will do all we can to deliver quality education in a difficult environment, accepting that some students may require help along the way. Every child and family is unique and we reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to remove barriers and anxiety to success.

So, what will happen if a positive case is confirmed?

Where a member of the college staff or student, test positive for Covid-19, the college will work closely with Oldham’s Public Health Protection Team to reduce the risk of infection. We will take advice from the Local Public Health Protection Team who, together with the Local Authority, will make the decision as to how best to proceed. On occasions, it may well be limited to the students with symptoms, a class or the entire year group. Decisions on the appropriate step will be taken by the Local Public Health Protection Team. If we are instructed to follow the direction from the Local Public Health Protection Team and the Local Authority, it is important that those within the affected group must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of last contact with the student who tested positive. We will ensure we communicate clearly what the period of self-isolation is to be and when students are to return to college. We will share this with parents via MyEd, our website and letter.

If a student or group of students is asked to self-isolate, we will use Microsoft Teams to deliver our curriculum in a similar way to the end of last academic year. Videos on how students can access their emails and MS Teams areas are included on our website and students and staff are becoming more prolific in its use each day. This will enable the delivery of appropriate live lessons and access to assignments which will be reviewed and feedback offered. It is crucial that whilst we are not yet having to make such decisions, students refresh their memory as how to access this key information.

It is important that we are all aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and only well children attend college. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • recent onset of a new continuous cough or
  • a high temperature
  • or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms. Information about Covid-19 symptoms and management of the virus can be found here,www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/. Where a confirmed case occurs, we will be working with the building owners to ensure that the appropriate action to clean the affected areas across the college. If you or your child develops any of the above symptoms or become unwell please contact NHS 111 or your GP.

This will be a worrying and confusing time for our students and families. Not only must we contend with navigating a path through the difficulties of Covid, but we must do all we can to educate and support each child to succeed in the world that awaits them. As a college, we will not be perfect. As a Headteacher, I am not perfect; but I am committed to doing all we can to minimise the impact of this crisis and to promote positivity and opportunity for all. Thank you for your continued patience and support. We keep you and your families in our prayers.

“I shall be an angel ofpeace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.”

St John Henry Newman

Yours sincerely,

Mr G R Potts

Headteacher DL