Vranch House is a centre for the treatment of over 2,000 outpatients with physical difficulties, a provider of various therapies throughout Devon and an independent Day School in Exeter for children with significant physical difficulties.

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Last updated: 27/05/2024

Covid Testing - Dec 2020

Covid Testing - Dec 2020

Date added: Thursday 31st December 2020
Latest updated: Thursday 23rd February 2023

To Parents & Carers of pupils at Vranch House                     


Dear Parents & Carers,

Re: Routine and serial testing for COVID - 19 from January 2021 

With just two days left of the Autumn term, the Government's made a number of announcements, changing quite significantly the Christmas plans of many families, and creating unprecedented expectations upon schools to routinely test individuals for Coronavirus (COVID - 19) when we return to school in January 2021.

We are working to keep Vranch House as safe as possible.  In the face of a second, quicker spreading, form of COVID -19, testing for those without symptoms is beginning across the country using new, quicker COVID -19 tests, and we will be starting this in the week beginning 4th January 2021 - not necessarily on the first day back.  Vranch House will follow the same testing regime that will be followed in alternative provision and in other specialist schools and we will be opening as usual for all pupils to attend full-time face-to-face provision from 4th January 2020.

In response to this new and comprehensive round of guidance regarding COVID - 19, we will be adopting a three-pronged approach to ensuring we maintain a ‘protection for all' approach to the prevention of transmission of the virus.  All Vranch House staff will maintain the ‘Hands-Face-Space' approach to reduce possibly infection; including use of sporicidal and alcohol-based hand sanitisers, face mask wearing and social distancing (wherever reasonably practicable).

Protection for all - Routine staff testing

In the ‘first wave', we will establish routine testing for Vranch House staff (and our professional colleagues who attend our setting frequently) on a weekly basis.  Up to one third of adults who have COVID - 19 have no symptoms (are ‘asymptomatic'), so by this programme of ‘routine testing', and continuing to supporting individuals to self-isolate if they test positive, we will save lives and help keep Vranch House open and as safe as possible.

This routine testing is voluntary, but I will be encouraging all staff to take part, as I will. Each test will be supervised by trained staff and there will be minimal disruption to the delivery of our education and therapies. The ‘lateral flow' tests are quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat.  Results will be shared directly with staff participating and NHS Test and Trace.

To reach this stage, the test has been tested at Public Health England's research laboratories in partnership with Oxford University and is totally safe, with a 99.8% specificity. Testing is free and provided by NHS Test and Trace.

Protection for all - Routine pupil testing  

You may have heard confusing and possibly contradicting advice regarding the testing of pupils in secondary schools, versus no requirement to test primary age pupils until February 2020.  During the week beginning the 4th January the Management Team at Vranch House will be meeting to discuss the then-up-to-the-minute guidance published by the Department for Education, NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England.  Whilst conforming to any national directives on routine COVID - 19 testing for pupils, we will take an approach that places equal emphasis on the wellbeing and respiratory health of our pupils.  Whatever approach the Management Team at Vranch House decides is in the best interest of our pupils, we will be in contact formally once again to gain written consent before any programme of routine pupil testing is instigated. To be clear:


No testing of pupils will be conducted without prior written consent of parents/carers.


Protection for all - Serial testing of individuals

In addition to the above measures, the new programme will help maintain pupils and staff attendance, by enabling ‘close contacts' of someone who tests positive to stay in school if they do a daily test for seven days.  This is known as ‘serial testing'.  If not willing or able to do this, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside of school who will still need to self-isolate. Further details will be provided at the time, but if individuals would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, they can.

Dates for your diaries:

Monday 21st December 2020 to 1st January 2021: Christmas Holidays - school closed to pupils

Monday 4th January 2021: Spring Term starts and pupils return.

I hope that, despite the imposing of new tough measures now and in the new year, you are all able to enjoy a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas.

Yours faithfully


Ian Norton

Head of Education