A secondary school has told pupils in every year group to stay home amid a rising number of Covid cases.
Bosses at Manchester Health Academy in Wythenshawe say pupils have been disrupted, going in and out of school as positive cases arise, and say the move will ‘provide a level of consistency’.
The M.E.N has previously reported how other schools are minimising the number of year groups in school at any one time, including Blessed John Henry Newman RC College in Oldham, where year groups are spending four days in school and one at home.
But at MHA, where cases were confirmed in every year group at the weekend, principal Kevin Green has taken the decision to keep all students at home until at least the end of this week.
In a letter to parents, he said: “There has been an increase over the weekend in the number of students testing positive for coronavirus. I fully expect there to be further cases this week.
“There has also been an increase in the number of staff testing positive for coronavirus. There are other staff (via the NHS app) being identified as a contact and having to self-isolate.
“To provide a level of consistency and as little disruption to you as possible this week, we are reverting to online learning and online teaching.
“All students are therefore required to remain at home during the school day all of this week.”
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He told the Manchester Evening News: “It does seem to me that right now, in this area, we’re seeing an increase in the number of cases and rather than have children return for potentially a day before there’s another case and they get sent home, we need to give them some consistency.”
Mr Green says the cases have come despite all the work the school has done to minimise risk – including social distancing, hygiene measures and mask wearing in communal areas.
“There’s definitely more of it out in the community,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it and I have a feeling we will have more cases reported in this week.”
Pupils are being asked to complete work online and access the live lessons via a laptop or tablet, with the school issuing 435 laptops to those who need them – and providing internet access for families who don’t have it.
The fact that some pupils struggle to access technology has been a main concern amid the pandemic, with teachers and unions saying it’s these disadvantaged children who will fall further behind because they don’t have the resources.
Mr Green said his school was going above and beyond to help families, with his pastoral team making contact with hundreds of families to check on their safety and well-being and issuing supermarket vouchers to isolating pupils who are entitled to free school meals.
“My pastoral team have been absolutely fantastic, he said. “In the March lockdown they made over 1,000 visits to families to make sure they had the support they need.
“They work really with so many families who need that additional support. And parents and carers have been amazing with the feedback they’ve given us about what we’re doing and how they’re keeping us informed about cases.
“It’s about finding the right balance between safeguarding the children and making sure they get an education and we’re doing our best to offer both.”
The principal is hoping to get pupils back in the classroom as soon as possible, telling parents: “I can only hope that the spike in cases we have seen reduces over the next few days and that all students can return next week. I will communicate the plan for next week on Friday.”
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