Haverhill school to welcome some students back tomorrow after Covid outbreak
Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill will reopen for some students tomorrow after two days of being closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 among teaching support staff.
The school has, in an email sent today to parents and carers, also announced a raft of new measures to prevent any further cases of Covid-19.
Eight learning support assistants (LSAs) at the Chalkstone Way school had tested positive for the virus, and a further 16 staff have subsequently been asked to self-isolate for 14 days, as have three Year 7 classes and two groups of Year 10 students.
Thankfully, tests done on almost 50 other staff have come back with negative results.
As a result there will be, said the school, no in-class support from LSAs until September 21.
With so many teaching staff self-isolating until September 20, Samuel Ward's head teacher Andy Hunter said in the email that the school will have to open for year groups on a rota basis for the next eight school days.
Students from Years 9, 11, 12 and 13 will return to school for four days from tomorrow.
Then, from next Tuesday, students in Years 7, 8 and 10 will return to school, with students from the other four years staying at home.
All students not in school will be given work to do at home.
Mr Hunter said: "Please accept my deepest apologies for this very disrupted start to the school year. "We had high hopes for the return to school and I know I speak for the entire staff when I say we are extremely disappointed to find ourselves in the position we are now in.
"I hope I have been able to reassure you that we acted swiftly and effectively to control this outbreak and that the additional measures we have put in place will substantially reduce the chances of another one.
"This is going to be a difficult year for all of us.
"We will continue to do our very best to provide the best education we can whilst keeping everyone as safe as we can."
More stringent rules are also being introduced to try and prevent any further Covid-19 infections.
Mr Hunter said: "In the light of the recent outbreak we will be increasing our systems of control.
"Those include new guidance for staff on increased social distancing, including amongst other things a blanket ban on making anyone else a drink or sharing food or snacks.
"We are removing any large-scale gatherings. All staff meetings, including full staff meetings and department meetings, will be held virtually. All assemblies will be held virtually.
"We are also asking that from now until half-term, all staff and students wear face coverings in public places.
"That means corridors, stairwells, toilets and washrooms, sixth form study rooms, changing rooms and canteen queues.
"Masks will not be worn in lessons unless an individual has a specific and compelling medical reason to wear one.
"If your child has a medical reason for wearing a mask in lessons, please speak to the year team.
"We will limit the number of seats available in canteen areas.
"This will mean more students will need to take their food outdoors. We will review this as the weather grows colder."
Commenting this morning on the Covid-19 cases at Samuel Ward Academy in Haverhill, the MP for the town, Matt Hancock said: "The outbreak of Covid-19 at Samuel Ward is worrying for everyone at the school.
"The safety of pupils and teachers is, of course, the top priority.
"I want to thank staff at the school, the public health team at Suffolk County Council and Public Health England who are working hard to keep people safe, and to ensure that after the closure for a deep clean of the school, we can stop the spread of the virus and that pupils will be able to return to lessons.
"Everyone is taking this matter extremely seriously, and I am confident that there are robust and effective measures in place at the school to keep everyone safe."