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March 2021 – School Reopening & Home Testing information

Welcoming our pupils back to onsite learning at St Mary’s College.

Schools reopened across England from Monday 8th March. We encourage you to follow this link to guidance for parents and carers in order to familiarise yourselves with the basis on which this decision has been made.

This section of our website provides information about the arrangements for the safer return to school. If you cannot find the information you need then please contact us using the website, by e-mailing or by contacting your child’s Year Office.

COVID-19 Home Testing Arrangements

After three initial tests in school, pupils are being provided with testing kits and asked to continue testing twice per week at home. Please note that these cannot be issued until a pupil has completed their 3 onsite tests. Further details and guidance for the transition to home testing from can be found below:

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How to do a Covid-19 Self Test

Travel to and from school

All school bus services resumed on Monday 8th March. If your child uses a school bus then you will be familiar with our established protocol from the Autumn term. Mask wearing and arrangements for seating will remain in place and access will be only be available to students with an allocated space. A reminder of school bus seating arrangements can be found here. If circumstances have changed since the Autumn term and you need to change an allocation or apply for a school bus space, then please contact at the earliest opportunity. We encourage students to walk or cycle where possible and have retained additional provision for zoned bike parking. If using public transport, there is an expectation that students adhere to national requirements and follow rules laid down by service providers.

Coronavirus Testing

As a further measure to promote a safe return, we are offering regular coronavirus testing to all staff and pupils from the first day they arrive on site. There will be 3 on site tests provided with 3-5 days in between each one. These will be carried out using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) which provide a result within 30 minutes.

Testing is voluntary and consent will be required for it to be carried out. We strongly encourage all pupils and families to take advantage of this opportunity and help us prevent the spread of coronavirus. To provide consent you will need to read the information here and then complete the online form which is accessible here. To enable us to prepare appropriately please complete the form at the earliest opportunity.

Please note that whilst testing will significantly improve our ability to identify asymptomatic individuals and minimise the spread of coronavirus, it does not impact in any way on the necessity to maintain wider systems of control.

Attendance, Behaviour and Uniform

School attendance is mandatory, and our usual expectations will apply. Pupils should arrive in school at the start of the day on the date identified for their Year group (see above) and move directly to their zone. Once they have returned for their first day of school then they should attend as normal.

As a reminder, pupils should self-isolate and not come to school if they:

  • Have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive
  • Live with someone who has symptoms or have tested positive
  • Are a close contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Are clinically extremely vulnerable

For any students who are self-isolating or shielding we will continue to provide remote learning.

Standards of uniform and behaviour will continue to be a focus. There has been some temporary revision to policies and procedures to reflect the adjusted organisation of the school. These are available on the website and we ask that you familiarise yourself, particularly with the addendum to our behaviour policy, prior to your child returning to school. A copy of the latest uniform letter is available here.

Risk Assessment and Systems of Control

Updated risk assessments will continue to be published on our website and the systems of control in place throughout the Autumn term will remain. In addition, we will ask that all pupils and staff (unless exempt) wear a face covering in classrooms as well as in communal indoor spaces where social distancing cannot be reasonably maintained. This is in line with national guidance and is a temporary measure to be reviewed at Easter. Appropriate adjustments will be made for our hearing-impaired students.

A reminder that application of the ‘system of controls’ includes minimising mixing (for example using zones for Year groups), ensuring any individual displaying symptoms does not attend school, effective hand washing/sanitising routines, ensuring good respiratory hygiene practice and enhanced cleaning protocols.

Breakfast, Break and Lunch

All year groups will have a provision for accessing hot and cold food in their zone. On at least two days a week Years 7-11 will be granted exclusive access to the Canteen. Post 16 students will retain their normal use of ‘The Pod’ throughout the day. It is important that payment cards are credited regularly using Parent Pay, as access to ‘revaluer machines’ on site will be restricted.

Entry and Exit

An enhanced duty presence will focus on maintaining swift movement in to and out of zones at the beginning and end of the day. Face masks will be required when entering and exiting the site. Lanyards should be visible immediately from arrival so staff can direct movement appropriately. Slightly staggered exit times to manage the flow of students away from the site will remain in place.

Awarding grades for GCSEs, A-Levels and Vocational Qualifications

Those with children in our examination cohorts will have noted further announcements on the awarding of grades following the cancellation of Summer 2021 examinations. We continue to process the emerging guidance for schools in this regard. In the meantime, all courses will continue as normal and students should focus on working hard to develop the knowledge and skills that will best prepare them to represent themselves well moving forward. Assessment in all its forms, will continue to be a central feature of high-quality teaching and learning. The emphasis will remain on evaluation of learning and informed planning for progress.