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John O'Gaunt School in Hungerford returns to online schooling for most pupils amid rising Covid cases



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Students at a Hungerford school are back learning from home for a second day after rising Covid cases.

From yesterday (Monday) only Year 11 pupils at John O’Gaunt are currently in school for lessons due to the high number of staff members testing positive for coronavirus.

In a letter to parents yesterday, head of school Richard Hawthorne, said that after looking at the staffing situation they did “not feel that we will be in a position to bring any additional year groups back into school”.

Year 8 students at John O'Gaunt School in Hungerford in March last year, after returning to school following the third national lockdown
Year 8 students at John O'Gaunt School in Hungerford in March last year, after returning to school following the third national lockdown

He said that staff were still returning positive tests after day five and six of self-isolation so were unable to return to school yet and there was an “ongoing unavailability of agency cover staff”.

The letter added that the school hoped to bring students back “as soon as possible”, but the need for “a blended provision” to continue throughout the week.

In the letter Mr Hawthorne added: “I’m sure you will understand why we are prioritising Year 11s as they build towards their summer exams.

“Students in years 7 to 10 will have work set for them via Class Charts.

“Similar to [Monday] where staff are well enough and able to, we will offer live provision via Teams.

“I am in no doubt that we are not alone in facing the current unprecedented challenges but also acutely aware that these announcements and their short notice is inconvenient and disruptive to say the least.

“Thank you for your continued support whilst we deal with the situation.”

The latest figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday (Monday) showed the number of lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in West Berkshire was 44,186 - an increase of 163 in the previous 24 hours.

The area’s seven-day rolling rate per 100,000 population is 1,236.2 - with 1,959 cases in the seven days to March 16.

And as cases continue to rise across the area, other schools are also taking precautions to try to prevent further home schooling becoming necessary.

From today all pupils at St Bartholomew’s School in Newbury have been asked to wear a face covering in communal areas and when moving around the school.

The school wrote to parents last night and said it expected the measure to remain in place for the next two weeks.



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