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Update Regarding Reopening for Spring Term

Important update following the government's announcement regarding the delayed reopening of schools.

Dear Parents and Carers,

I hope that you are enjoying the Christmas break. It has been a strange time – the increased rates of Covid-19 across the country, especially in the South East, has led to a number of government announcements. We now prepare to begin 2021 in Tier 4 with the associated added restrictions. In addition, you will have no doubt heard the announcement from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education with regard to students return to school after the Christmas Holidays. This is clearly a change to earlier plans communicated to you before the holidays.

The revised plan for the return to school in January 2021 is:


Years 3,4,5 & 6

Years 7,8 and 9

Years 10 and 12

Years 11 and 13

Monday 4thJanuary

                                                         Inset Day

5th – 8th January

In school

Remote learning to begin on 7thJanuary

Remote learning to begin on 6thJanuary

Remote learning to begin on 5thJanuary

11th – 15thJanuary

In School

Remote Learning

Remote Learning

In School

18th January onwards

In School

In School

In School

In School

These dates are provisional following our understanding of the latest government advice and are subject to change.

Further details regarding remote provision will follow on Monday 4th January 2021.

Key Worker and Vulnerable Children Provision

We will be providing onsite provision for students of key workers and vulnerable students from Tuesday 5th January 2021. If you are a key work worker and would like to book a space for you child then please complete the form below by 8pm on Saturday 2nd January 2021.

If you are unsure as to whether you qualify as a key worker (critical worker) then the list published by the government is available at:

Families of vulnerable students have been contacted but if you do have any queries then please contact the school on Monday 4th January.

Covid-19 Testing

The delayed start of the school term is to allow schools to prepare to carry out Covid-19 testing using lateral flow devices. Our understanding at present is that this involves mass testing and serial testing. Mass testing involves the testing of as many students as possible in years 7-13 as they return to school and we are planning for this to commence from 11th January. Serial testing involves the testing of close contacts and the weekly testing of staff on an ongoing basis

Further details about testing can be found later in this letter and we will send an easy-read guide during next week.  However, for now the most urgent matter is for us to obtain consent for testing and your child’s participation in the scheme. Again, details of how you can give consent are in the later section on testing.  Participation in testing is not compulsory but it will help our school community to be a safer place and also help the community and minimise wider transmission of the virus.

Staffing of the Test Centre

In order to provide testing on such a scale and in particular for the initial mass testing we are looking for volunteers from the community to help support the process. These volunteers would help with the testing process and support the government's initiatives to help curb the virus. 

At this stage we are seeking general expressions of interest.  The most important role needed is that of processor: setting up the tests, analysing them and obtaining results.  We may also need help with recording and administration and, if there are appropriate volunteers, for more significant team leader roles overseeing the test process.

We anticipate you would need to attend online NHS training during the week commencing 4th January and have availability for the weeks of 11th and 18th January, although this may not need to be every day.  We will also likely need some ongoing help on a smaller scale into the future.  

I am hopeful that with your community support, a group of volunteers will help us to make sure students return to the classroom as soon as they can. If you are able to support, or know of others that can, then please complete the form below as soon as possible:


Please be assured that we are doing our best to navigate through these uncertain times. We do not have prior notice of the announcements that are being made and are responding to these demands as rapidly and effectively as possible. We all want the students of The Minster School at school learning in a safe environment. By supporting this programme, we hope to be in a position to do this as soon as possible.

Additional communications will be sent in the coming days to keep you updated.  In the meantime, I thank you for your support and ask for your rapid response to the consent request and plea for volunteers.

Wishing you a Happy New Year

Ben Chaloner - Head Teacher


Appendix : Details of testing in schools – the following information is published by the government 

What if a close contact at school/college tests positive? 

A close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to school if they agree to be tested once a day for 7 days, and the test is negative. If not, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside of school who will still need to self-isolate. Further details will be provided at the time, but if you would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, you can. 

If you are happy for your child to be tested, please fill in the online form by following the link below, including the consent statement (one per student). If you are unable to complete the online document please contact the school office for a paper version.

The test will be supervised by trained staff and every effort will be made to reduce disruption to lessons. The ‘lateral flow’ tests are quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat. For under 18s, staff can assist with taking the swab if needed but self-testing is preferred. 

Results will be shared directly with staff and students participating. Where participants are under 16, parents/legal guardians will also be informed. 

To reach this stage, the test has been tested at Public Health England’s research laboratories in partnership with Oxford University and is totally safe, with a 99.8% specificity. Testing is free and provided by NHS Test and Trace. 

What if a student tests positive? 

Results will be shared directly with staff and students participating. Where participants are under 16, parents/legal guardians will also be notified. 

Students will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ (similar to those done in testing sites) to confirm the positive result, they will be able to take a test kit home provided at school. During this time while they wait for the PCR result they will need to self-isolate until they get their result. If it is negative, the students can return to school. 

If the result of this secondary test is positive, the pupil and household members will need to self-isolate for 10 days following Government guidelines. Please inform school as soon as you receive this test result. 

We will continue to support pupils with their education remotely. We recognise this may be disruptive for your family but it is really important to isolate to prevent the spread of the virus, and there is financial support available via the NHS app. Students will need collecting from school so please discuss this with them and be prepared to respond immediately. There is more advice on self-isolation and home learning on 

What if a pupil tests negative? 

They will be able to stay in school and resume their activities as normal. A student will only be told if they test positive in the first ‘lateral flow’ test, so if you do not hear you can assume it was negative. 

What if my child develops symptoms? 

This testing programme at school is for people with no symptoms. If your child develops symptoms at any time (such as a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss of change to your sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland) or visiting