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UPDATED: More schools announce partial closures due to Coronavirus

Decision follows Government briefing and staffing concerns

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Theale Green School to be partially closed this week

West Berkshire Schools are partially closing this week in response to the latest advice surrounding coronavirus. 

Newbury's Trinity School and Park House School, The Willink School in Burghfield Common and Theale Green School will be partially closed this week in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Update March 18 - 2.30pm

St Bartholomew's School, in Newbury, has now become the latest school in the area to close to certain year groups. For tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday students in Years 8 and 9 have been asked to study from home.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Julia Mortimore said that the measures were now necessary due to the "significantly larger number of staff now absent from school due to new guidelines on self-isolation.

She added: "We will review the situation over the next few days in light of any further guidance and staff absence and update you further by the end of the week.

"If we are able to our plan is to rotate year groups that are not in school next week, whilst keeping Year 11 and 13 in school."

Students have been set work by their teachers on Show My Homework and have been told they should study for at least 3-4 hours each day.

Update March 18

Castle School in Newbury, which teaches children with a variety of complex learning difficulties from the ages of three to 19, will be closed until further notice from 3.30pm on Wednesday, March 18.

Headteacher Jon Hewitt said: "We currently find ourselves in unprecedented times given the risk to health that COVID-19 poses. As a school leadership team, we have been working over the past couple of weeks to look at how we can safely open and not only meet the day to day needs of our students but also ensure risk to health remains at a minimum. It has now reached the point where this is not possible.

"As a result I am writing to inform you that we will be closed from the end of school on Wednesday (18th March 2020)".

The Hurst Community College in Baughurst is partially closed today.

Headteacher Roger Jones said: "Due to the increasing number of staff absent and with teacher supply agencies unable to cater for this sudden increased demand, I have made the difficult decision to close the school to Year 8 and Year 9 pupils, Wednesday 18 March".

March 17

Kennet School in Thatcham has confirmed it has pupils and staff self-isolating but will remain open tomorrow (Wednesday). 

Headteacher Gemma Piper said: "We have staff and pupils self-isolating but are able to carry on with school as usual tomorrow despite being fastidious with the guidelines. 

"It's been a really positive team approach today and shows the power of everyone pulling together".

Kennet has cancelled all non-essential events and activities and all visits by visitors have been cancelled. Sporting fixtures, the Spring Concert, the Dance Show, day trips and all other arrangements beyond the classroom have been cancelled until further notice.

"Managing the school with reduced staffing and pupil levels as a result of self-isolation is critical at this point. If we need to limit access to school for some year groups, we will communicate the night before to give everyone as much time as they can to prepare for that.

"Pupils have been fully briefed with the home study plans and this will take effect if we have a partial or full closure. In the event of a partial closure, children of healthcare workers can continue to attend school until such time as we are formally shut. We will ensure provision is made for these pupils". 

Kennet said that there was an increased expectation around handwashing during the school day, which pupils were reminded of daily and are supervised while doing this at key points, especially in relation to sports.

It has also staggered break times and is not running assemblies.

In a letter to parents the head of The Willink, Peter Fry, said: "Whilst The Willink School currently does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, we do have staff absent who are currently self-isolating as they live in households where there is a member displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

"We also have staff who are in higher risk categories, as defined by the Government, and as such have been advised to remain off work.

"This means that unfortunately, we will not have sufficient staff available to ensure adequate provision of learning and the safety of all of our students and will need to have a partial closure of the school for year 9 and 10 students on Wednesday 18th March. With the exception of examination years, it is planned to rotate year groups that are off school". 

There will be a partial closure of the school for Year 9 and 10 pupils tomorrow (Wednesday). The school will be open for Years 7,8,11,12 and 13.

Theale Green School has said it will close for certain year groups on certain days, starting with Year 9 and Year 12 tomorrow (Wednesday).

Theale Green will close to Year 8 and Year 10 on Thursday, with Year 9 and 12 back in that day.

It will be closed to Year 7 children on Friday, with possible closures to other year groups to be decided on Thursday.

The school said: "Please note that this plan may change in the event of untenable staff absence. Work will be set for all students using the systems we have put in place for remote learning, and students are expected to take responsibility for planning this learning effectively. This has been explained in assemblies for Year 9-13 this week, and Year 7/8 tomorrow. More details will be sent to parents over the next day".

Theale Green is part of the Active Learning Education Trust. 

In a letter to parents the trust said: "The government has stated that schools will not be closed for the moment.

"The announcement has meant a larger percentage of our students and staff have needed to self-isolate for 14 days and therefore we have made the decision to begin a partial closure programme across all of our schools for the remainder of this week. 

"We are, however committed to supporting families of key workers and any vulnerable children and therefore each of our schools will have a supervised area available for students to work from if working at home is not an option. Please note the children will be working independently on the work set for those working from home.

"If you require your child to attend when their year group is working from home, please contact the school in the usual way to let us know so we can plan for appropriate spaces to be available.

"We are also aware that some households will have circumstances which may require you to make decisions regarding your child staying at home to protect vulnerable family members. Please contact the school to let us know if this affects your child’s attendance."

Park House School said it had taken contingency planning and had "come to the unavoidable conclusion" for Years 8 and 9 to remain at home tomorrow (Wednesday) and until further notice. 

All work for pupils will be on Show My Homework. 

The school said that remaining examination groups will remain at school and that childcare arrangements were likely to be greater for younger pupils in Year 7.  

Year 12 and 13 pupils are asked to attend as usual, and classes will run as normal where staff are in school and structured work will be available.

Park House has cancelled all school trips for the foreseeable future.

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Article comments

  • NbyLad

    17/03/2020 - 19:05

    Its a good job our NHS workers are not so keen to close down their places of work, the Government have not advised the closing of schools yet!

    Reply

    • NoisyNortherner

      18/03/2020 - 08:05

      I knew I'd find you in these comments somehow, pedalling your own brand of "back in my day" bullshit. The NHS would be in a similar position if it was as small as most of these schools. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if staff shortages at hospitals become more of a problem given that they were already an issue.

      Reply

      • NbyLad

        18/03/2020 - 08:33

        IMO Teachers always find a quick excuse to shut down the schools whilst most others still go to work, leaving parents looking for care of their children. We are going to heavily rely on our NHS staff over the next months, they are going to continue working looking after everyone but the nurses will never get recognised for their hard work, they will cover those who are unable to work due to illness or self isolation, etc, but they will always be there, but are always taken for granted!

        Reply