King Henry School in Erith sent home all pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 on Wednesday in an effort to “break the chain of infection.”
The school’s headteacher said it had been an “incredibly challenging2 few days, and the disruption was “deeply upsetting,” but that it was was the most responsible choice.
The school said on March 22 (Monday) that affected groups had quickly been isolated after a small number of students tested positive after a round of home Covid-19 testing.
The school bubbles all of Key Stage Three by form groups, so was able to limit those needing to work remotely and isolate to three form groups.
But on March 24, a second letter home to parents saw the headteacher Mr R Leitch take the decision to move the school to a partial closure.
He explained that the school had experienced a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases since home testing commenced, the majority of which were asymptomatic.
Following a meeting with Bexley Council and Public Health England, it was recognised that four local Bexley wards (Erith, Crayford, Northumberland and Belvedere) are currently experiencing higher rates of infection than the rest of the borough.
“It is clear that the virus is circulating in the local community, with a higher risk of cases being transmitted into the
school community at the moment.
“As such I do believe that we need to reduce the number of students on site, else the virus will continue to spread.”
The headteacher said that whilst twice-weekly testing will help identify asymptomatic cases, they now needed to “break the chain of infection.”
Due to the prevalence of cases in KS3, they school has moved all Year 7, 8 and 9 to remote learning up until the Easter break, after which the whole school will return on April 19.
Mr Leitch said: “This has been an incredibly challenging few days.
“Whilst another COVID-19 disruption is deeply upsetting for everyone, I do believe that this is the most appropriate and responsible approach.
“It will also enable the delivery of high quality remote learning, and ensure that our exam classes have the best opportunity to complete their final assessments.
“I would like to express my gratitude to our whole school community. Our unity in moments of difficulty and our courage to stick together is what makes us truly extraordinary.”
One parent, however, called it “madness,” stating it was the school’s duty to stay open and only close when the Government tells them otherwise.
Hesaid that the decision seemed based on assumptions that cases at the school will get out of control, despite the students involved being sent home and the rest being regularly tested.
“I can understand sending children home if they’ve had close contact with someone with the virus, but I fail to see how three whole year groups need to be sent home.”
The school did complete the full three rounds of testing required by government guidance, and called its testing provisions “outstanding”, with over 3,500 tests being completed in 10 days.