05 October 2020: Message from the Principal
We are now one month into our revised ways of working having returned at the start of September for our new school term. I am very grateful to staff, pupils, and students for the shared responsibility and commitment shown to creating our Covid-secure environment. My thanks also to you as our families, for helping to reinforce an understanding of the on-going importance of all of our measures onsite. These aim to balance safety with an education which is as broad as it can be at this time. As future weeks and months unfold we must all be watchful of becoming ‘Covid-complacent’, recognising that our measures in place must be seen as continuous processes rather than occasional events. I commend the maturity and thoughtfulness demonstrated at this time by our young people.
Schools are being asked to consider two broad planning themes – prevention, and response – the latter referring to managing positive virus cases or outbreaks. Having now managed some positive-test circumstances within our School community, you might be interested to learn more of the approach I am being guided to take when needed, in consultation with local health teams. We are aware that some schools in the City have responded to positive-test outcomes by instructing whole year groups to self-isolate. In contrast I have been advised to be more focused in our risk assessment decisions, identifying only those in closest and prolonged contact for self-isolation. I have felt that the guidance I have received from health teams on each occasion has been reasoned and proportionate. It is worth noting, that all schools and health teams will be making decisions based on their own contexts and arrangements, and considering different measures in place in each school, rather than a one-size-fits-all response.
Public Health England has provided guidance about Covid-contacts. Details appertaining to schools are:
- A person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 anytime from two days before the person was symptomatic or up to ten days from the onset of symptoms
- People who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for Covid-19
- A person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre) with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 including being coughed on; having a face-to-face conversation within one metre; having skin-to-skin physical contact; or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- A person who has been within two metres of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes
- A person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19
Our structures in place at this time for class or year group ‘bubbles’, including arrangements at lunch times, allow a methodical and contained approach to identifying contacts. Some of the decisions I have taken exceed the benchmarks in the framework above, to provide additional precaution in limiting the risk from transmission.
In circumstances where schools have two or more confirmed cases within 14 days they are asked to work further with local health teams to evaluate whether the school should be considered as having an outbreak of cases rather than single, unrelated cases. At such a time additional action may be needed, for example, asking a larger number of pupils to self-isolate and undertake home learning – possibly the whole year group or whole school where this is deemed proportionate as a response. I have not as yet needed to take such action for the University School.
Along with many other areas across the country, the City of Birmingham presently remains an area identified by the Government subject to local restrictions, which means that face coverings are mandatory on-going in communal spaces and corridors where and when there is a greater chance of different people mixing. This measure, alongside our other prevention measures such as regular hand hygiene, will continue to help us manage risk and minimise virus transmission within school.
I recognise that this communication is detailed. It is provided so that as important partners you can engage with and understand the processes that sit underneath decisions potentially affecting your child at this time, and moving forward.
Thank you for your continued support,
07 October 2020: Message from the Principal
We have been advised by Public Health England that there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our year 11 cohort of the school. Having risk assessed the circumstances with our local health protection teams they confirm that this case can be considered unrelated to any other positive case reported and managed by our school to date.
We know that you may find this concerning but are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England. The letter below is to inform you of the current situation and provide advice on how to support your child. Please be reassured that for most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
A number of children who have been in direct prolonged contact with the confirmed case will have received an individual letter and will be staying at home for a period of self-isolation.
The school remains open and your child should continue to attend if they remain well.