We received notification on Friday 25th September of a confirmed case of Covid-19 associated with the school. The student and their family are both well and we have passed on our best wishes. They are currently self-isolating.
We contacted the Department for Education/Public Health England immediately and followed their instructions about the steps that we needed to take in order to manage further risk. The confirmed case relates to a Year 11 student and we have worked closely with the DfE/PHE to identify the students who had been in ‘confirmed close contact’ with the student based upon individual seating plans. That does not mean that either the bubble or individual classes have been sent home, just those with confirmed close contact from Monday 21stSeptember until Wednesday 23rd September. At all points, we have followed the instruction that we have been given and contacted all affected families on Friday evening via email and letter. We have also worked with the Year 11 student’s family to offer any additional support that we can, and will ensure that teaching materials are made available for those self-isolating via Microsoft Teams. Please contact the school if you have any concerns, but please also be aware that we are very busy at present.
When discussing the confirmed case with the DfE/PHE, we also identified that there would possible be ‘unconfirmed close contact ‘with students travelling to and from school via Brandon Bus C. As school transport is managed by the Local Authority and guidelines relating to Covid-19 are regulated by the bus company during transportation, we were instructed to be cautious in the first instance. Therefore, we contacted the families of all students who travel on Brandon Bus C and have asked them to self-isolate for 14 days too. We will work with the DfE/PHE and the affected families closely on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th September to identify whether that level of caution is necessary, as a significant number of students will not have had confirmed close contact. We will consult on this issue with the relevant public health experts, as the school cannot make that decision independently. Brandon Bus C will not be in service until we have sought additional advice.
It is important to note that local regulations are in place in County Durham because of an increase in transmission in the North East. There had been no confirmed cases at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School in the first four weeks of term, but there had been in many other large secondary schools in the area and transmission within the wider community has been growing; there is a clear national narrative about increased risk. We have acted diligently within our risk assessment and have acted very quickly and sensibly when a case has been confirmed. I’m aware of the very real anxieties that many families feel and wanted to reassure you that we have acted in accordance with the advice given and have communicated quickly with all those affected. It is not necessary for all Year 11 students to stay at home.
The wearing of face coverings is mandatory in communal areas at school and we have clear routines in place for each part of the school day. We are also constantly reminding students about the importance of good hygiene. Please reiterate all of these points at home too. If your child uses Local Authority school transport, please tell them to wear a face covering and to be aware of social distancing as they travel to and from school. The school will always act upon concerns regarding school transport, but it is vital that parents and carers reinforce important messages about daily journeys at home too.