College update - 18.12.20

18 December 2020

Information to students

As you may be aware, the Government announced on Thursday 17th December that there would be a staggered start to the spring term for all secondary and college students in England. This is a directive, rather than a guideline, so in light of this, ASFC will start the Spring term as outlined later in this letter. 

The Government has also announced that colleges will be provided with Lateral Flow Antigen Tests to use with staff and students on our return from the two week holiday. While the logistics for this exercise have yet to be confirmed, the intention is that all students (in colleges who choose to opt into this system) should receive two tests, three days apart, as soon as the college is in a position to start implementing this system. After this initial testing of students, colleges will be provided with additional testing kits to use on an ongoing basis to test students who are close contacts of someone who has tested positive. 

Roughly one-in-three people have the virus without symptoms and as such, could be spreading the disease unknowingly. Asymptomatic testing helps to identify positive cases more quickly and break the chains of transmission. We have therefore made the decision that Ashton Sixth Form College would like to play its part in reducing transmission within both the college and the wider community, and so we will participate in the testing system. Both the testing and results are quick; the test involves swabbing of the throat and nose, and we will have trained staff available to assist with this. Results will usually be available within half-an-hour. This testing is voluntary and we will need your consent.

Our arrangements are outlined below, although they are dependent upon further Government guidance and an assumption that we will have received all the necessary equipment and training materials prior to the start of term. 

Monday 4th January 2021 – no lessons. Students not in college. 

Tuesday 5th – Friday 8th January – A2 and Level 2 students who are in the week B bubble will attend lessons in college as normal. Students who are A2 but in the Week A bubble will join lessons remotely from home. A1 students will all be taught remotely during this week (both A and B bubbles). For students in receipt of free college meals, the monies for this week will be transferred into your bank accounts rather than loaded onto college cards. 

Week beginning Monday 11th January – this is a Week A week – all week A students (A1, A2 and L2) attend their lessons in college while Week B students attend lessons online from home. 


Examinations

All examinations are running as normal, so whatever year group or bubble you are in, you must attend your examinations as timetabled. If your examination is during a week in which your bubble is not due to be in college, you should only come into college for the examination and leave immediately afterwards. You will already have your examinations information. 


Covid testing schedule

We plan to start the Lateral Flow testing within college as soon as this is possible, and ideally (equipment, training and staffing permitting, from 4thJanuary). Students will be allocated a time slot for their first test as soon as we are able to arrange this. If the appointment is within a week which is not their normal week in college, students will need to attend college ONLY for their test and leave immediately afterwards. Should a student test positive for COVID-19 using the Lateral Flow test, they will need to be collected from college (because they should not be using public transport) and arrange a confirmatory PCR test. The college may be able to provide the test for the student to take away. They will need to self-isolate until the results of the PCR test, resuming normal activities if it comes back as ‘negative’, or completing 10 days of isolation if it is positive (please refer to national guidance). The college will need to be informed of the results of the PCR test, whether positive or negative as we will need to contact other students they have been in contact with to confirm that they need to continue self-isolating, or that they can return to college. 

We apologise for any inconvenience that these changes may cause you, and we are sorry that we are not yet able to provide firm arrangements regarding the testing, but we wanted to inform you of everything we are able to at present.  We will send out further information once we are in a position to do so. 

In the meantime, we would like to wish you all the very best for a restful and enjoyable break over the holiday period. 

Kind regards,

Lisa Richards

Deputy Principal