Quite a short blog this week as I’ve spent all week going back to my roots!
Last Monday morning I was settling down and anticipating (dreading) another day of Zoom, Teams and online meetings, when my phone pinged.
It was from the team at New Bridge School who were informing me that most of the leadership team and pretty much all the Pastoral team had been in contact with a positive case.
In line with protocol, and our risk assessments, all of these colleagues would need to go home to self isolate for 10 days.
So to cut a long story short, 45 minutes later and after an uneventful motorway journey, I’m sat in my old office on the Roman Road site.
It’s been 3 years since I spent a concerted period at the school and the week really highlighted to me how disruptive this virus continues to be.
During the week I observed the young people and staff following the guidelines brilliantly. All adhered to mask wearing and strictly followed movement and circulation protocols. Yet we still lost 3 bubbles!
What appears relevant is the increasing testing, through the lateral flow home tests, is picking up positive tests much earlier than in the previous “back in school” period.
You’ll remember that in the previous “all school open” phase the only testing system was the externally booked PCR tests. It seems an age ago when we were complaining about having to wait 3/4 days and travel huge distances just to get a test!
Now the testing is pretty much instantaneous!
When any school receives an initial positive test a rigorous process kicks into place. Firstly the school teams have to “trace” all contacts and request that they go home to self isolate. This involves checking timetables, checking transport arrangements, speaking to everyone and culminates in phone calls home. In a site where there are around 350 children this, in itself, is a monumental task.
We then await the more reliable PCR test and advise everyone what the next steps are!
What we are absolutely noticing is that the lateral flow test is picking up individuals that are non symptomatic. So staff and/or children that have no symptoms – a cough, high temperature, loss of taste and smell etc. but have contracted the virus are now being identified. Interestingly, in our experience, the lateral flow tests are also appearing very accurate.
In one way it is good news in that the system appears to be cutting down transmissions by early identification but from an “operating school’s perspective” it is still highly disruptive.
I know many children will now not return until after the Easter vacation. It’s another long period at home.
So as I said in a blog a few months ago, we are far from being back to normal. The scientists and politicians continue to advise us that the way out of this pandemic is through the vaccination programme. I continue to urge everyone, if you are eligible, to have the jab. If you are reluctant or have reservations, drop me an email and I’ll put you in contact with our medical colleagues.
I’m still really confident that by greater knowledge and improved immunity our community will defeat the virus. Let’s really hope it doesn’t take too much longer.
Take care, stay safe.
You can find all Graham’s previous updates and blog entries here