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Primary school closing early after 'isolating pupils attended funfair'

A Wolverhampton primary school says it is having to cancel leavers' assemblies after pupils who were supposed to be isolating went out and passed Covid on to others.

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East Park Academy headteacher Hayley Guest

East Park Academy is closing at the end of today and will carry out remote learning on Monday and Tuesday after a Covid outbreak.

Headteacher Hayley Guest said pupils who were supposed to be isolating had been out last weekend and passed Covid on to others.

She said she knew of three other schools which have had to close this week too.

"It's pretty horrendous, we've had to make the decision that the school is going to close to pupils at the end of today," she said.

"We were meant to be open Monday and Tuesday so we're going to be remote learning.

"Particularly for our Year 6s we can't have them in school to do their leavers' festival as planned."

East Park Academy. Photo: Google.

Ms Guest added: "

We had two bubbles closed and we know children who should have been isolating were over there with other pupils.

"I know of three other local schools which have had to close this week too.

"The local authority didn't tell us, the first we knew about it was when a positive case came in on Monday and we did track and trace which showed a child who was isolating had been out.

"Since June 23 we have had 35 positive cases, we're awaiting results on a further 23 tests."

She continued: "We've rescheduled the festival for August 31 but who knows what is going to happen at that point.

"The kids are so upset and of course parents are angry and frustrated, we get that.

"Society is getting back on its feet but the reality of restrictions easing is a rise in cases in schools. It really scares me.

"PHE has told me we will see the peak of this wave in the middle of August.

"It is worse now than last year."

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We have worked closely with all schools in Wolverhampton, including East Park Academy, to support them with all aspects of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We have kept them informed of the latest guidance around the requirements for pupils to isolate in the event of a confirmed case within their bubble, and have provided schools with template letters to issue to parents as and when required.

"We and the schools can only do so much and ultimately it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure that children who need to self-isolate do so."

Overall school attendance across Wolverhampton is at 78.7 per cent, in Sandwell it is just under 87 per cent and in Dudley it is 78 per cent as the school terms near the end.

A total of 2,360 pupils in Walsall, 12.3 per cent, are absent due to Covid-related reasons.

Out of 26,805 pupils in Sandwell, there are 165 confirmed Covid cases, 213 suspected cases and a total of 2,817 pupils are self-isolating.

A spokesman for Walsall Council said: “Data taken from the Department for Education (DfE) school closure monitoring dashboard indicates that on 15 July 2021 a total of 2,360 (12.3 per cent) pupils from reception through to year 11 (ages five – 16) were absent due to Covid-19 related reasons.

“The majority of Walsall schools are breaking up before the national easing of restrictions on 19 July or just a few days after. Therefore the local public health team have advised schools to keep existing Covid-19 measures in place until the end of term.

“This means avoiding introducing a new set of rules during the last few days of term, but it will also reduce the risk of anyone coming into close contact with anyone testing positive for Covid, which would mean they would need to spend the first weeks of their holidays in self-isolation.

“This has been an incredibly challenging academic year and we would like to thank all Walsall pupils and their families and all school staff for their hard work and resilience during this most demanding of years.”