Lateral flow tests a 'very small price to pay in helping us emerge as a nation from this lengthy pandemic'
Hundreds of secondary school students have had their first lateral flow tests and have learned how to take them at home.
Under the government's roadmap for schools in England to safely reopen from Monday (March 8), teachers and secondary school students have been given access to rapid testing.
St Philip Howard Catholic School, in Barnham, said it will be 'very pleased' to welcome all children back and believes the lateral flow testing will provide 'important data and information', from which national decisions can be made about the further relaxation of lockdown measures.
A school spokesperson said: "Questions have been raised in the media about the reliability of the lateral flow tests, however we believe that, together with all the other measures in place, these are important to engage with.
"The tests are only for those who are not displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 (i.e. the person may possibly be an asymptomatic carrier) and so as such any cases detected is going to be better than not testing at all."
A further two tests will be taken at school in the coming weeks before parents and staff will be able to test from home, undertaken twice weekly.
"We’d urge all families with children in school to support these initiatives across West Sussex," the school spokesperson said.
"The tests are not overly invasive and whilst take a little getting used to, they are a very small price to pay in helping us emerge as a nation from this lengthy pandemic."
Guidance will be sent to parents when the tests are to be taken from home.
"There are many measures in place to keep our children and staff happy and healthy in our schools.
"At SPH we continue to temperature check all those in school every day (well over 1,200 of us), there are one-way systems in place, hand sanitiser in every room, split breaks and lunches to manage numbers and a staggered end to the day to minimise numbers at the railway station.
"Face masks, whilst previously only worn in corridors, will now (for the next few weeks) be worn in lessons too.
"This may present some challenges as we all know that teaching relies on great communication (both verbal and visual), however we are confident all this can be managed appropriately and as usual we’ll quickly become accustomed to another new ‘normal’.
"This pandemic has presented us with so many challenges as a society and it would be quite understandable, given the amount of loss and suffering, to feel rather pessimistic and gloomy.
"There is, though, light at the end of the tunnel and we all give great thanks for the incredible progress made by scientists in such a short period of time; the vaccination programme really is quite amazing."
Digital Detox Days offer opportunity to take a break from devices
St Philip Howard Catholic School said staff have been 'very conscious' of the amount of time our students have been spending in front of devices each day in order to access their six online, live lessons every day.
To 'redress the balance' and 'ensure we could help to boost their mental and physical health', the school hosted two Digital Detox Days this term.
The days were designed to give students the opportunity to take part in reflective tasks, physical challenges and creative activities.
All year groups from 7 to 13 took part and despite the challenge of not relying on any form of device at all, the feedback from the days has been 'overwhelmingly positive'.
The school spokesperson continued: "Students have spoken about how they took the chance to: read, bake, get out on their bikes and learn new skills such as sewing, cooking, creating agility courses for pets, spending quality time with siblings and much more.
"As much as we have all come to rely on our digital devices every day, the benefits from having time away from them is important.
"Simply being outside can increase the levels of more restful sleep patterns, better posture, improved brain function, the opportunity to exercise and give them time to reflect.
"In school our key worker and vulnerable children have participated in activities that have served as an introduction to the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, involving: baking, physical challenges, tent building, mental challenges and campfires (complete with toasted marshmallows).
"They have continued to be an amazing group that have worked hard in school every day and certainly embraced the opportunity for some respite and downtime, with great enthusiasm.
"During the second Digital Detox Day students and their parents had an online appointment with their form tutor.
"This pastoral check-in allowed us to facilitate one-to-one support, alleviate any concerns and worries regarding their studies and put in place any additional interventions ready for their return to school on Monday."