This is my last chance this academic year to write to you all about how the Trust is responding to the Covid pandemic. It’s fair to say that the year has been full of challenges that we could not have comprehended just eighteen months ago. Our ambition in Leigh Academies Trust was always to emerge stronger from the pandemic than when it started. I am delighted to say that after everyone’s splendid efforts, this is exactly what has happened.
From next Monday, 19th July, as you know from watching the various news reports, restrictions ease once more. For clarity, we will be keeping everything the same for the last few days of the academic year so that people are not confused about expectations. The exception to this is that from Monday, we will no longer be contact tracing in our academies in the event of a Covid case. This responsibility will transfer to NHS Test and Trace.
Over the summer, many of our academies are running summer school activities for the benefit of pupils and much additional work will be going on to invest in our facilities to get them ready for September. If you are planning a family holiday abroad over the summer break, please be mindful of the rules and possible risks so that your child does not find themself in quarantine and unable to enjoy a positive start to lessons with their peers when the new term starts.
Next academic year, it is quite clear that we will need to learn to live with Covid. Most of the restrictions currently in place in schools will end and we will return to something akin to what we were used to prior to the pandemic first hitting us all. Unless in the case of a local outbreak and implementation of a contingency plan, there will be no need for “bubbles”, staggered starts and ends to the day or face-masks in classrooms which have become a daily feature of life in schools over the past few months. We will continue to insist on good hygiene practices, though, and many of our academies will retain arrangements such as one-way systems and split breaks and lunches as they’ve found these to have a positive impact on how our academies operate, pandemic or no pandemic.
One feature to look out for in our secondary academies is that all pupils will receive two on-site lateral flow tests when they return in September, subject to consent being received. They will also be issued with a further tranche of test kits to use at home as they have done over recent months. In addition, any pupil with symptoms should seek a PCR Covid test as they do now and remain at home until the result is known. You should continue to notify your child’s academy of any Covid-related absence even though this absence will no longer trigger in-school contact tracing.
All of our academies are in the process of finalising arrangements for September and Principals will be in contact with existing and prospective parents very soon with a full summary of local expectations. We appreciate the support you have shown to help everyone stick to the important rules that are in place to keep people safe and we look forward to that continuing next academic year. It has been a very difficult and trying time for us all, but we have come together to carry everyone through. For now, I would like to wish you all a restful summer break when we can recharge our batteries and enjoy spending time with friends and family.