Letter from the Head - 12th March 2021
In this issue: COVID tests at home, a great first week back, and HP's Got Talent results!
A second letter is included this week, which deals with the COVID self-testing kits we have sent home today. This can be found below, but I first wanted to share some positives from our first week back.
It has been an absolute joy to have students back in school, and it's been very heartwarming to see how many of them are genuinely excited to return to lessons. I have been incredibly impressed by how much resilience students have shown in getting stuck in straight away - by 08:45 on Monday morning all students were busy reading or in their morning interventions. Particular mention must go to Year 11 and 13 who have shown incredible focus and are still working very hard towards their final assessments. I will be writing to all Year 11 and 13 families on Monday with an update on how we will be assessing their grades this year.
This week has been incredibly busy, with COVID tests taking place every day in the hall. We have now conducted a total of nearly 3,500 tests in the past eight days, all but two of which have been negative. I'm very grateful to all the staff and parent volunteers who have made this possible, and I'm pleased to report that these staff will be freed up on Monday and able to return to their regular roles. Thank you for your patience while many of our support staff have been involved in testing. This also means that clubs will resume on Monday - you can check out the current timetable here.
I can also reveal the winners of HP's got Talent. We had hundreds of entries, so well done to the following:
1st - Sienna H (Javelin)
2nd - Coral B (Typhoon)
3rd - Lyla W (Hurricane)
4th - Anamika J (Typhoon)
5th - Amy C (Hurricane)
6th - Caitlyn C (Javelin)
You can view their winning entries on our Instagram page, and all six will receive their Culture Colours later this term! Particular congratulations to Sienna for coming top; the SLT were incredibly impressed by the creativity she's shown in designing some incredible dresses over lockdown:
Finally, some exciting building updates. The new roofing has now been completely finished, so we can move on to installing solar panelling. We also hope to replace all of the the old windows and doors in the main block over the summer, which will massively reduce our carbon footprint (not to mention keep the building warmer in winter!). We are also continuing to renovate the toilets, and have completed the first block of Year 9 toilets. As you can see, we've got rid of the cubicles and each toilet is instead fully enclosed for maximum privacy. The wash area is open plan rather than hidden away, which has been repeatedly shown to significantly reduce bullying. Having already done the same in the main building and the Maths Block (Year 7 and 8 bubbles), we'll be continuing to work on these; I'm aware that many of you have raised concerns about the state of our older toilet areas and this is something I'm very keen to resolve!
Please do pass on my congratulations to your children for a brilliant first week back. I knew they'd be good, but they've surpassed my expectations!
Home Testing for COVID-19
As you may be aware, the next phase in the government’s testing programme is to offer tests to all staff and students. Students have been given test kits today to take home, and the government ask that secondary students test themselves twice a week while attending school. I appreciate this is a big ask, and you can choose not to consent if you wish, but I hope you will consider taking part: it will help us keep Holmleigh Park as safe as we possibly can.
I have included the full advice from the government below, and have given students a printed copy to bring home too for easy reference. Please do take some time to read through all of the information and in particular:
- Watch the instruction video here.
- Make sure you report your child's results before every Monday and Wednesday here.
Additional Information on COVID-19 testing from home
Up to one in three people who have COVID-19 can spread the virus without knowing. This is because they have no symptoms. To reduce the spread of the virus, we need to identify those individuals. We can do this by asking students to carry out tests at home twice every week, 3-4 days apart.
The Government has recently announced that all secondary and college aged students will be offered tests to make the return to school safer for everyone.
Testing students at home
Students will be given home test kits on Friday 12th March.
We would like students to take their tests before school every Monday and Wednesday.
You will also need to tell the us the result of each test by visiting https://tinyurl.com/HPHSReportTest
Tests are free of charge. Students will receive two packs of three tests in a box, with a leaflet on how to take the test and report the results.
Make sure you have enough time to do the test before going to school. Preferably this would be in the morning before going into school. However, we understand that for some people this may be challenging. Therefore, tests can be taken the evening before school if needed. You need to report test results.
Taking the test
Students should take the test, before coming into school, twice a week. We will give students a leaflet with instructions on how to do the test with the kit. There is also a useful video to show you how to take the test here and below.
Help and support is available, including instructions in different languages on how to test and report the results and a video showing you how to take the test.
There is no need to keep used test equipment after the test result has been reported. You can put it in your normal bin (household waste).
What should you do after the test?
If anyone tests positive you, your household, any support bubbles you are part of should self-isolate immediately in line with NHS Test and Trace guidance for 10 days.
You should order a confirmatory PCR test if you are testing at home (confirmatory PCR tests are not needed if the test was conducted at the Asymptomatic Test Site at School/college).
If the result of the test is unclear (void) you should do another test.
Negative and void results should be reported to both NHS Test & Trace and your school.
A negative result does not guarantee that you are not carrying the virus. So, you should continue to follow social distancing, and other measures to reduce transmission such as wearing a face mask and regularly washing your hands and observing social distancing.
If you or anyone in your household gets symptoms of the virus you should follow national guidelines on self-isolation and testing.
You need to report each test result
The result of each test needs to be reported using the NHS Test & Trace self-report website: https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.
You will also need to tell the school the result of each test by going to https://tinyurl.com/HPHSReportTest
Why take part
Taking part in testing is voluntary and all students will be able to attend school whether they take part in testing or not.
All students are strongly encourage to take part. Testing at home will allow your child and other students to attend school as safely as possible.
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns about home testing.
Thank you for your support.
Some frequently asked questions
Do I need to give consent?
Students and parents do not give written consent to take part in the home testing programme. Please read the information below on how personal information and test results are shared and the privacy notice which can be found at the bottom of this letter.
Once you open the kit you should take and report the results of the tests to NHS Test & Trace and the school, regardless of the result (positive, negative, or void).
Can my child take the test themselves?
Students aged 18 and over should do the test themselves and report the result, with help if they need it.
Students aged 12-17 should do the test themselves with adult supervision. The adult may help the [pupil/student] to take the test if they need support.
Students aged 11 must be tested by an adult and the adult must report the result.
Reporting problems or issues with testing
If there is an issue with the test kit, for example something is missing, please report it by calling 119 and please also tell the school.
If an accident or injury happens whilst using the test kit, please seek medical care by calling 111 (or 999 if it is an emergency). Please also report what happened using this website: https://coronavirus-yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/
What type of tests will be used?
We will be sending home Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests. They are a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but who may still be spreading the virus.
The tests are easy to use and give results in 30 minutes.
Are LFD tests accurate?
Lateral Flow Devices identify people who are likely to be infectious. These individuals tend to spread the virus to many people and so identifying them through this test is important.
These tests have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals and are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have got tested.
The tests are highly specific, with low chance of false positives. They are also very sensitive and are able to identify the majority of the most infectious yet asymptomatic individuals. Extensive evaluation has been carried out on the tests and it shows that they are both accurate and sensitive enough to be used in the community for screening and surveillance purposes.
It is important to remember that these tests are only an aid to help stop the spread of the virus and you should continue to follow other guidance such as on wearing face coverings and social distancing.
How are LFD tests different to PCR tests?
There are 2 main types of test to check if you have coronavirus:
- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests check for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus in the sample - you send the sample for processing at a lab
- lateral flow device (LFD) tests detect proteins called ‘antigens’ produced by the virus
LFD tests give rapid results, in 30 minutes after taking the test.
What does it mean if my child has a positive result?
If your child has a positive antigen LFD test result they, their household and any support bubbles they are part of should self-isolate immediately in line with NHS Test and Trace guidance for 10 days. You need to report your result to both NHS Test & Trace and your school.
You should order a confirmatory PCR test if you are testing at home (confirmatory PCR tests are not needed if the test was conducted at the Asymptomatic Test Site at school).
You can book a test here.
What does it mean if my child has a negative result?
A negative result does not guarantee that your child is not carrying the virus. So, you should continue to follow social distancing, and other measures to reduce transmission such as wearing a face mask and regularly washing your hands.
What if my child has a void result?
If the result of the test is unclear (void), they should take another one. If the next test is also void, your child should take a PCR test. You can book a test here.
All test results need to be reported to both NHS Test & Trace and your school.
Do I need to send the test to a lab?
No. The LFDs supplied do not need to be sent to a laboratory to get a result and can give a quick result in around 30 minutes. Guidance on self-testing is contained in the ‘Instructions for Use’ leaflet, which comes with the test kit. There is also a useful video to show you how to take the test here.
How do you report the result?
it is positive, negative or void) using this service. You also need to tell the school the test result. You will receive a text or email from NHS Test & Trace confirming that you have reported your test result.
All test results need to be reported to both NHS Test & Trace and the school.
Can I or someone else in my household use a test kit sent home from school?
No, however whole families and households with primary school, secondary school, and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home. This testing can be accessed through the following channels:
- get a rapid test at work, through workplace testing. Ask your employer for more information
- attend a test site to get tested where you will be able to see how to take the test or pick up tests to do at home (you can find your nearest test site via the postcode checker www.gov.uk/find-covid-19-lateral-flow-test-site or check your local council website)
- collect tests to do at home, find your nearest collection site COVID Test Finder (test-and-trace.nhs.uk)
If these options are not possible, there will be a supply of rapid tests for order online for people who need them the most. More information can be found on www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
How will personal information and test results be shared?
When your child takes a Lateral Flow test, you need to report the result. This is so that their test result can be traced, which means that you need to share some information about your child.
You need to tell the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC):
- your child’s name
- your child’s test result
- the reference number on the test Kit
You will also need to tell your child’s school or college their test result.
Under UK law, your child’s school or college can collect and store test result data because it is in the ‘public interest’. This means that your child’s data helps us to stop the spread of the virus, and to keep your children in school. For example, we will tell your child to self-isolate if they get a positive test result.
Schools and colleges will only share information with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) if the test kits used are found to be faulty. If this happens, DHSC will use our information to contact people who used the faulty tests, so that they can be tested again. This will ensure that testing is accurate and helps keep us all safe.
When you report test results online, you are sharing information with DHSC. They may share the information with your GP, local government, NHS, and Public Health England. This is so that they can offer your family health services and guidance if your child needs to self-isolate. They might also use your child’s data anonymously (without their name or contact information) to research COVID-19, and improve our understanding of the virus.
For more information on how personal data is used for testing please see the detailed privacy notice here.