Dear Parents/Carers

As many of you are aware we have on two different occasions over the last week had a member of staff in the same class group testing positive for Covid-19. This then sets into motion a whole chain of events affecting students, parents and staff.

Following contact with Ealing Schools Health and Safety and the Public Health Team, schools are required to inform the DfE about any new Covid positive cases. 

For Special Schools the DfE Threshold is, ‘2 children, pupils, students and staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period’.

Once the DfE Threshold is met this triggers the involvement of the London Coronavirus Response Cell (LCRC).

The LCRC then carries out a risk assessment based on an interview with the Headteacher and a completed data collection form and if necessary the case is scaled up to a LCRC Consultant Physician who can review the actions already taken by the school and offer more specialist advice.

This is exactly what happened at St Ann’s on Thursday 23.09.21 We were informed about the second staff Covid case at 8.30am necessitating a large number of close contact staff to immediately leave site to have a PCR test and for students in the affected classes to be returned home. Please note that this was not because the students had to self isolate, young people below the age of 18 years and 6 months are no longer required to self isolate, but it was because their highly specialist staff were not available to work with them and we did not have appropriate staff available to cover.

During our discussions the LCRC recognised the extreme vulnerability of St Ann’s students given that many have complex medical conditions and suppressed immune systems and that as a cohort, people with complex profound to severe learning difficulties are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill as a result of contracting Covid-19, particularly if they are not yet vaccinated.

The LRC agreed that St Ann’s action of requiring close contact staff to immediately have a PCR test was appropriate and proportionate to the potential risk and was in accord with the GOV.UK general advice for close contacts:

‘You will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible’

‘In addition to getting a PCR test you may also consider limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable’

(NHS Test and Trace : what to do if you are contacted : 17 August 2021)

The LCRC also agreed that St Ann’s close contact staff should receive a negative PCR test result prior to returning to work and advised that subsequently close contact staff should have a LFD antigen test every day for ten days following their last contact with the case.

Please be assured that we are continuing to do everything possible to ensure that St Ann’s remains Covid secure and fully operational. Any decision resulting in students missing school is only taken after all other avenues have been exhausted. However the health and safety of everyone on site has to remain our paramount concern and when whole class teams of staff become unavailable, as in this situation because they were close contacts, the safest course of action is to temporarily close the affected classes to students.

Please note that St Ann’s is open again to all students on Monday (27.09.21) and please do contact me if you would like to further discuss any of the above.

Yours sincerely

Gillian Carver