I write to you at the end of what is probably the most challenging half term in my 14 years as a Head Teacher. Whilst throughout the whole of last school year we had 26 students and 6 staff infected with COVID-19. In the 7 weeks since the summer holidays we have had 229 students and 19 staff infected. Whilst the vaccinations have certainly protected people, this is still a very dangerous illness with 2 staff hospitalised in the last week. Though the majority of students are only mildly affected, there are still those unfortunate young people who are very ill with COVID.
The picture is not all doom and gloom however, as with a year group taught at home each day we have seen numbers starting to fall. We have kept a record of the numbers of students self-isolating with a positive COVID diagnosis each day, remembering that they do this for 10 days – this is NOT the number of new infections. The number self-isolating has stayed stubbornly at around 100 over the last two weeks, with each day approximately 10 returning from self-isolation being replaced by 10 new infections. This week the numbers had fallen to 75 on Monday and 58 yesterday, so I am hopeful that the main wave of infection has passed us by.
However, we are about to face the coldest months of the year, and experience tells us that the two half-terms where illness is greatest in school populations are wrapped around Christmas, between now and the end of February. I am therefore making one simple request. Have as relaxing a half-term break as you can, continue to conduct twice weekly LFD testing and send students back to school in November with guidance to still be cautious; to wear masks in crowded places and certainly on public transport; to continue with rigorous hand washing routines and most importantly, to stay at home if at all unwell. We would not normally encourage this response to sniffles and colds, but at present the risks for us all are just too great.
Thank you all for your patience and continued support. We all have the privilege to work in a great school with lovely children, and that is due not only to the commitment of all of our amazing staff, but also the love, support and parenting skills of our wonderful families. Do take care and stay safe, and let’s all look forward with hope and optimism to a brighter 2022.