Willenhall school to close after 'mass outbreak' of Covid-19

A Willenhall school is to close for two weeks after a "mass outbreak" of Covid-19.

St Thomas More Catholic School, in Willenhall. Photo: Google Maps
St Thomas More Catholic School, in Willenhall. Photo: Google Maps

St Thomas More Catholic School will close on Friday and will not reopen until Monday, November 2.

In a letter sent to parents on Friday, seen by the Express and Star, the school's headteacher said that in the last 48 hours she has had to send 40 members of staff home after they had been in close proximity to students in both year 11 and sixth form who had tested positive for coronavirus. Ten members of support staff have also been sent home, as well three members of the catering team

The school will undergo a deep clean during the two-week closure.

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The letter states: "As you will know from the numerous communication over the last number of days, we have been made aware as a school that a number of students belonging to our school community in both year 11 and sixth form have tested positive for Covid-19.

"We have been advised that this is now considered as a mass outbreak.

"As numbers have grown over the last 48 hours with particular reference to the last 24 hours, I have had need to send 40 members of staff home as they have been in close proximity to the students who have tested positive across both year groups. In addition, I have also had need to send ten members of our support staff home and our catering team have sent three of their team home. In each case the member of staff, regardless of where they are based, will now need to self-isolate for fourteen days and may require testing should they develop symptoms.

"As per current guidance and regulations, we have contacted the parents and carers of the students in both years 11 and sixth form who have been in close proximity to the students who have tested positive and have provided them with all necessary advice and guidance. It is essential that year 11 students self-isolate until October 28, and sixth form students self-isolate until October 30.

"Whilst we have been able to operate today [Friday], the current circumstances provide grave concerns for the smooth running of school for the coming week. We have given careful consideration to the impact our seriously depleted staffing levels will have on what should happen in the classroom, adequate levels of supervision as our children arrive and leave school in addition to the levels of supervision required during all breaks and lunchtimes, not to mention ensuring that our pastoral care, first aid and catering provision can remain fit for purpose.

"Having reflected upon the situation in hand and having discussed matters with both Public Health England and Local Health Protection ‘West Midlands West’, the advisory team at the Archdiocese, the LA and our chair of governors, I am taking the decision to close our school for all year groups as of this evening, Friday, October 16. This means that as of Monday coming, October 19, all students must remain at home.

"During the next two weeks our school building will undergo a stringent process of deep cleaning allowing for both students and staff to return to a safe, clean and fit for purpose learning environment on Monday, November 2."

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