Headteacher self-isolating as coronavirus case school prepares to reopen
PUBLISHED: 16:01 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:29 08 September 2020
The headteacher of a Norfolk school forced to close after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus is self-isolating as it prepares to reopen.
Old Buckenham High School remained closed on Monday as thousands of pupils at other schools across Norfolk returned to the classroom for the start of the new autumn term.
Parents and pupils found out the school was to remain closed after it posted the notice on its website on Sunday night, apologising for the late notice and saying it had only just become aware of the situation.
The school had welcomed back pupils for the first time in six months on Friday.
MORE: ‘Children needed to be back in class’ - Parents welcome return to school
Following consultation with Public Health England, the secondary school, which is part of the Sapientia Education Trust (SET) and has 551 pupils, is set to reopen on Tuesday, September 8.
As part of measures to ensure the school can open safely and effectively, a number of staff have been required to self-isolate, including headteacher Andrew Fell.
No pupils are required to self-isolate and all pupils can return to school.
Deputy headteacher Andy Dwight will take operational control of the school but will be supported by Mr Fell, working from home, and leaders from within the trust.
Mr Fell said: “I am very appreciative of the messages of support and goodwill that we continue to receive from our parents and our wider community, who have been overwhelmingly supportive.
“We are very much looking forward to resuming tomorrow following a very successful first day back on Friday.”
The trust said the decision to close the school following consultation with Public Health England was due to “logistical and operational reasons”, as a number of key areas of the school site were unable to function as required, due to staff needing to self-isolate.
The trust said these “logistical issues” had now been addressed in full and a deep clean had been undertaken on Monday.
MORE: Back to school - but how will Norfolk children catch up?
Jonathan Taylor, chief executive officer of SET, said: “‘A decision to close a school is always taken as a last resort.
“It became apparent during Sunday evening that the school would not be able to function
safely given the absence of staff and that time was needed to ensure that we could plan the
safe and effective re-opening.
“We are very grateful to colleagues in Public Health England, Norfolk County Council and the Department for Education for their support.”
The closure of the school came as health secretary Matt Hancock suggested that young people under-25 have helped propel the rise in positive coronavirus cases across the country in recent days.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said it is “impossible” to eliminate entirely the risks of transmission either in school or the wider community.
He added: “It is therefore likely that disruption will continue over the coming weeks and months.”
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