Covid forces school to close until new year

Secondary school moves to online learning after Covid isolation meant it lacked enough staff to stay open safely
7th December 2020, 6:04pm
John Roberts

Share

Covid forces school to close until new year

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/covid-forces-school-close-until-new-year
Coronavirus: A School Has Closed Until The New Year Because Of The Number Of Teachers Off Self-isolating

A secondary school has closed its doors early for Christmas after Covid shut down year groups and "bubble groups" throughout the school and left it with more than 30 teachers self-isolating.

Matthew Harper, the headteacher of Beauchamps High School, in Wickford, Essex, told parents that the situation had meant the school did not have enough staff to allow it to remain open safely.

It is now moving to online learning for pupils in all year groups for the next two weeks until the end of term.

The school closure comes amid warnings from the NAHT school leaders' union that the government has 24 hours to find a solution to avoid a "chaotic and disruptive" end of term.


Warning: Heads set to spend Christmas holiday track and tracing

Heads: Fears Covid in schools will cancel teachers' Christmas

Coronavirus: School closures double amid calls to 'save Christmas'


Beauchamps High School already has three entire year groups (7,9, and 11) self-isolating and not returning until after the Christmas break.

And Mr Harper said in a letter today that its Years 8, 10 and 12 and 13 all have significant numbers of students self-isolating until Friday 18 December, who will not return to school until after Christmas.

Coronavirus: School has more than 30 teachers self-isolating

He told parents that the decision to close the school has been backed by the local authority and "the test and trace team".

Please all note the letter which has been emailed to all parents and carers today. Thankyou. pic.twitter.com/D44wNVTFrw

- Beauchamps High (@Beauchampssch) December 7, 2020

In a letter to parents, Mr Harper said the school had more than 30 teachers who are self-isolating.

He also highlighted that the Basildon district, where the school is based, has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the country and the virus is especially prevalent in people between 10 and 20 years old.

He said: "Unfortunately and with sincerest regret, I feel I have no choice but to close the school to all students until after the Christmas holidays as our current staffing numbers will not enable to us remain open safely."

The letter adds that the school will now be using virtual platforms for all year groups  which will include video lessons and voice-over presentations. 

It adds:  "Teachers will be available to deliver their lessons each day, at the normal times via Teams, so a full day of education will be provided for all students." 

The announcement comes as the NAHT warned the government that schools will be hit with sharp drops in attendance next week. 

The union said the government's Covid Christmas rules put schools and parents "between a rock and hard place" - with families "forced to decide for themselves how long to isolate" before getting together during the festive season.

It said an "obvious and straightforward" solution for the government is to give schools the flexibility to "switch to remote learning" for the end of term.

Last month, the DfE intervened to prevent a multi-academy trust from closing its 15 schools early for Christmas.

Focus Trust, which runs 15 primaries in the North West and West Yorkshire, has planned to finish a week early to safeguard pupils and staff and "protect precious family time together" in the Christmas holidays after pupils and staff had to self-isolate in 87 per cent of its schools because of contact with the virus.

However, the DfE intervened and told the multi-academy trust's leaders during a meeting on a Sunday night that it had the legal power to direct the trust to remain open.

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters