More Brighton and Hove secondaries close or part-close

Posted On 17 Mar 2020 at 5:01 pm

Three more secondary schools and a sixth form college have announced full or partial closures because of short staffing caused by coronavirus self-isolating.

Blatchington Mill School will not open at all until the end of the Easter holidays, and both Dorothy Stringer and Cardinal Newman are closing to year 8 and 9 students.

Yesterday the King’s School said that it was closing its year 8 and 9 for similar reasons.

In a letter to parents sent this afternoon, Blatchington Mill head Ashley Harrold said: “It is with huge regret that I need to inform you that the school will be closed to students with effect from Wednesday 18 March until the end of the Easter holidays.

“This is the most difficult decision I have made as head teacher – I know that this will impact us all – but I will set out the reasons that we must close and the systems that will be in place to support students and families at this difficult time.”

He said that the levels of staff self-isolating, with key staff in teaching, pastoral care and facilities, meant that it would not be safe for everyone on site.

Key absences in the cleaning team also meant that the site could not be cleaned often enough and one in four students were now not able to attend either.

Mr Harrold added: “These students need work to be set to keep learning and we need to use our contingency learning plan to ensure everyone has access to the work they need to learn and make progress.

“I know that this decision will cause concern for some, and reiterate that it is not a decision that has been taken lightly or without consultation with the local authority, who are aware of our decision and the implications of it.”

Parents at Dorothy Stringer were sent a message which said: “Many of you will have followed the government’s press conference yesterday afternoon and followed the BBC feed on their website.

“Their advice has now changed … Schools are being advised to stay open for now.

“Unfortunately, we have a number of staff who need to stay at home to follow the revised government advice.

“Today we have had a number of staff away, however the numbers have increased for tomorrow which means we cannot safely staff the school for all students.

“Regrettably I have taken the decision for us to close to all year 8 and year 9 students until Friday, 27 March.

“These year groups may be able to return from Monday 30 March, assuming further government advice is not issued before then.”

BHASVIC principal Will Baldwin said: “BHASVIC will be suspending lessons and moving to remote learning from Wednesday 18 March until the Easter holidays (when the situation will be reviewed).

“Face-to-face delivery of lessons will cease in order that we can facilitate government guidance on social distancing and self-isolation.

“It has become clear that some of our departments will be unable to function with high levels of staff absence.

“The balance of risk dictates that it is unsustainable to continue to deliver lessons as normal and it is clear from conversations that I have had today with school and college leaders that we are not alone in experiencing this.

“As a post-16 provider, our statutory duties are different to schools and parents who need to work will still be able to do so while we adopt remote learning.

“The health and safety of our community is of paramount importance and this decision reflects that.”

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