Testing, closures and secondary schools: the latest Department for Education news regarding COVID-19

Testing, staggered returns and secondary schools: The latest Department for Education news regarding COVID-19
By Toby Lester | 22nd December 2020 | 14 min read

Last-minute announcements from the Department for Education left secondary school staff hurriedly making plans to allow for COVID-19 testing and closures in the new term.  

In response to recent high rates of the virus in secondary school pupils, secondary schools closed this month. However, schools will still be able to test teachers and students who are still able to attend school, including children of key workers and vulnerable students.

Last minute announcements regarding closures left school leaders hurriedly putting plans in place for remote learning, as well as contacting families to inform them of the new information around closures and testing.

The latest announcement raised many questions: how do we engage with parents about testing? How do we put a testing plan in place without interfering too heavily in the school day? How do we inform parents about the staggered return and potential closures? How do we deliver learning remotely, in just a few short weeks? 

How to communicate with secondary school parents regarding the latest DfE news concerning COVID-19 

Testing is not mandatory for students, and parents of children under 16 years of age must provide their consent. So, how do schools communicate with parents about the testing process and collect permissions speedily and accurately? 

With the right parent engagement solution, schools can deliver targeted communications to specific groups, classes and individual families efficiently and securely.  

IRIS Engage includes an online form solution as standard. Staff can build bespoke forms and surveys and collate and report on responses with ease. Parents complete permission forms online or via their mobile device using the free parent app, providing your school with responses in moments. 

What else can IRIS Engage do to support your safe return in January? 

  • The platform provides free translation for outgoing and incoming messages into over 40 languages, ensuring no parent misses out on critical information regarding their child’s education  
  • A school branded micro-site hosts learning resources, school information and news, providing easy access for parents and students 
  • Staff can update school social media accounts from a centralised location within the IRIS Engage dashboard (rather than accessing and updating accounts individually) 
  • An in-built absence management module (provided as standard) delivers first point of contact to parents of unauthorised absent children, supporting safeguarding measures and reducing absence 
  • Schedule meetings with parents to be held online, with live timetables to avoid double-bookings
  • The free parent app makes staying on top of school news and information easy for parents, ensuring your school receives a good response. 

Parent engagement has never been more vital in supporting your school’s community. The government’s recent update for secondary schools stresses the importance of attendance for children facing exams this year; however, reducing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and families is the first priority. 

Informing parents of the measures your school is taking must be a priority in 2021. To find out how IRIS Engage can support you, get in touch.