December 31, 2020
COVID-19 Guidance from UK Government: The impact on learning at our schools
On Wednesday 30 December, the UK Government introduced tighter restrictions in some parts of the UK and provided guidance to UK schools for the start of term in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
In light of this guidance, I want to provide an update on what this means for our school communities. We still believe that face-to-face study provides the best experience and preparation to enable students to progress their education in the UK this year.
As always, we continue to review the safety measures to ensure the welfare and safety of our school communities.
Beginning of term
Our arrival and start dates remain the same as these take into account a strict programme of quarantine and testing before face-to-face tuition begins. For details of your arrival date, please refer to our Planning for a Safe January. These can be found on our specific school websites.
We understand that making travel arrangements is difficult for some, therefore in addition to face-to-face teaching, we are making streamed live lessons available until the Easter holiday on 26 March. After the Easter holiday, students will join face-to-face lessons.
We understand that making travel arrangements is difficult for some, therefore in addition to face-to-face teaching, we are making streamed live lessons available until Friday 22 January. At this time, we are expecting students to arrive on campus during the weekend of 23-24 January.
TestingAll students and staff will be tested at the start of term.
Test to Release
International students arriving from overseas will be able to take a COVID-19 test as part of the UK Government’s Test to Release scheme to reduce the self-isolation period after international travel. Our medical partner, BioGrad, who provides our COVID-19 screening tests has been approved as a preferred supplier for the Test to Release scheme. Opting in to the scheme means students will be tested on their 5th day after arrival and upon receiving a negative result 24 hours later will be able to come out of quarantine.
In-school rapid testing prior to students joining on-campus lessons
For students who have been in the UK during the holiday period, or who are travelling from a country with a travel corridor to the UK in line with UK Government guidance there will be two rapid tests, four days apart before students join on-campus lessons. These tests must be taken by both boarding and independent accommodation students. Independent accommodation students will only be permitted on campus to take their tests until they have two negative results. Student’s schools will be in contact with them about the arrangements. Students in our boarding accommodation will be isolated until they have been tested. Face to face lessons will begin during the week of 11 January.
In-school rapid testing
From January, we will also be taking full advantage of rapid coronavirus testing to continue to keep students and staff safe on campus. Students and staff will be given daily testing for seven days if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
New vaccine rollout
The UK Government has also approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the UK, with the first of 530,000 doses due to be given on Monday 4 January from a total of 100 million doses - enough to vaccinate 50 million people. This additional vaccine is another milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
The UK Government has advised it will provide an update on 18 January. Therefore, I will write to you again at that time.
Best wishes to you and your family.
Chris Stacey, Chief Executive Officer