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School closure to all pupils on Monday 4th January

December 29, 2020

Re: School closure to all pupils on Monday 4th January for logistical planning

Dear Parent/ Carer

Further to my letter on the 18th December, we have received additional guidance from the Department for Education around the school based coronavirus testing programme over the Christmas holidays, I am writing to inform you that school will now be closed to all pupils on Monday 4th January. This will be a Logistical Planning Day for the school in order for us to begin making the necessary arrangements to provide on-site testing.

The overall aim of the Government’s testing strategy would appear to be for fewer pupils to need to self-isolate in the situation where they have been identified as a close contact of an individual who has tested positive. As many of you know from experience this term, we have faced some disruption to learning because pupils have had to be sent home each time there has been a positive test. So a system which allows pupils to get a quick test and, if it is negative, stay in school, seems to be a good idea. Therefore, we are fully supportive of a testing system that helps to reduce virus transmission and reduces the numbers of pupils and staff missing school through having to self-isolate. However, the work involved in setting up such a system is significant, and for that reason we feel that having a logistical planning day, which the Department for Education has authorised schools to take, will be a very important part in ensuring that we have a safe and workable process.

The aim is to be able to start some testing of staff and pupils in the first two weeks back, but there are a number of major logistical issues to be overcome first, including the creation of a testing team, ensuring the team is properly trained, building a testing facility, receiving the kits and PPE, and obtaining consent from you as parents and carers. At this point it is not possible to know exactly when we will have all of this in place, as of this date we are still receiving instructions from the DFE, but we will of course update you as plans progress.

So the plans for the first week back are now slightly different from those I communicated with you:
Monday 4th January: School closed to all pupils whilst staff undertake logistical planning. (Remote learning will not be provided on this day)

Tuesday 5th to Friday 8th January: All pupils will be in school attending lessons as normal.

I apologise for having had to change plans so soon after already writing to you, but hope you will appreciate that this is a fast moving situation, made more difficult by the fact that we are now in the school holidays. At least by writing to you before New Year, we can provide some clarity about the first week back.

Clearly there is also a very challenging national picture taking place at the moment regarding the new strain of Covid, changes in tiers for our local area, impact on schools reopening fully which may mean more changes before the holidays have finished. If this is the case, I will write to you again. Thank you again for your understanding.

Yours sincerely,

Donna Walker

Headteacher


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Contact

Link School Springwell Dene
Swindon Road, Springwell, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear  SR3 4EE

Tel: 0191 561 5777
Email: caroline.granton@schools.sunderland.gov.uk

Link School Pallion
Waverley Terrace, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6TA

Tel: 0191 561 4777
Email: anita.blakeman@schools.sunderland.gov.uk