School closes to two year groups for second time this term amid staff Covid cases

A high school has closed to two full year groups for the second time this term because of positive Covid cases among staff. We reported last week how pupils in Years 8 and 9 at Fred Longworth High School, in Tyldesley, Wigan, were told to ‘remain at home with immediate effect’.

Headteacher Paul Davies told the Manchester Evening News the level of absence – 16 teaching staff absent and four non-teaching staff – was ‘unprecedented’ and they had no choice other than to switch certain year groups to remote learning.

Those year groups returned last Wednesday, but with Covid-related absences continuing, Year 9 pupils have been asked to stay home once again, this time with Year 10 too.

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In a letter to parents, the head said: “You may already be aware that a significant number of our staff are having to self-isolate, and last week we unfortunately reached the point where we could not safely staff the school.

“Although there is no legal requirement for people who have tested positive for Covid-19 to self-isolate, there are still very clear guidelines in place for educational settings. These guidelines require any staff and students who test positive to stay away from school for between 5 and 10 days, dependent on having two consecutive clear LFD tests.

There are concerns that some children are being sent to school regardless of symptoms

“We have been asking certain year groups to work from home; Year 10 have not yet been affected by this because we have purposely tried to keep them in school. However, as staffing has not improved and other year groups have already missed face-to -face learning, we have been forced to include Year 10 in our considerations as well as Year 9 again.”

The students will now learn remotely for the rest of this week and break up for the school holidays on Friday.

Mr Davies added: “We fully expect all year groups to be in school when we return after the Easter break. In the meantime, work will be provided for all students, including ‘live’ lessons delivered through Microsoft Teams.

“I realize that this will be inconvenient for you, but we are left with no choice at this moment in time. I can assure you that every action we take is aimed at keeping all members of our community safe and I ask for your cooperation in continuing to work with us as we move through this next phase of the pandemic.”

Earlier this month we reported how another Wigan school – Woodfield Primary – was warning parents to be on the lookout for symptoms after 19 pupils and seven members of staff, including the head, tested positive.

And last week the Hindley campus of Three Towers Alternative Provision Academy or TTAPA, also in Wigan, was forced to close to all pupils due to a Covid outbreak among staff.

Yet with testing soon to come to an end, health leaders have warned that parents will soon find it ‘nigh on impossible’ to know whether their children have the virus. And there are concerns that some children are being sent to school regardless of symptoms, risking a surge in infection rates.

Is your school being affected by positive cases? Have you had a class closure? What do you think about testing coming to an end? Let us know in the comments here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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