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Covid-19: St Mary's Catholic School in Bishop's Stortford to close for extra week as 'precautionary' measure after two members of admin and support staff test positive




Half term at St Mary's Catholic School in Bishop's Stortford is to be extended by a week after two members of non-teaching staff and a student tested positive for Covid-19.

The 1,011 students at the Windhill secondary, who thought they would be returning to school on Monday (November 2), have been told to stay away until Tuesday November 10. Lessons will revert to online.

St Mary's decision follows a risk assessment and consultation with education authority Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

Headteacher Andrew Celano said: "The governing body and I considered the risks to the normal operations of school life and, with support from HCC, we all agreed that a precautionary closure would be the best solution on this occasion."

The school was informed last weekend (October 24-25) that two members of its administrative and support team had tested positive for Covid-19. A third case involving a pupil was identified later in the week.

St Mary's reported this to the authorities and carried out a risk assessment to gauge the level of contact the infected staff had had within school before half term. The duo went into self-isolation.

Reviewing the risk assessment with HCC and taking note of guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE), Mr Celano and his chair of governors decided to close the school for the week beginning Monday (Nov 2).

A spokesman said: "The decision to close for an additional week was taken as a precautionary measure as the loss of staff to self-isolation could potentially have created unavoidable implications for the safe functioning of the school."

The school will revert to its live streaming teaching platform for the week to ensure pupils can access education remotely. Parents were informed on Thursday (Oct 29).

Mr Celano said: “In taking the decision to remain closed, we have at all times followed the formal guidance from Public Health England, the DfE and Hertfordshire Public Health.

"The specific measures we have put in place at St Mary’s have ensured effective tracking and tracing where infection is suspected or confirmed by testing. In this instance all those who may be at risk have been contacted and are already taking appropriate measures in line with Government requirements.

"Our Covid-19 operation plans have ensured that we are fully prepared for such situations and therefore, during next week, all our lessons will move online, with the vast majority being fully live.

"We do not take such decisions lightly, but the governing body and I considered the risks to the normal operations of school life and, with support from HCC, we all agreed that a precautionary closure would be the best solution on this occasion. We have at all times to consider the safe and effective operation of the school for all staff and pupils.”

The school will reopen for pupils on Tuesday November 10 as Monday the 9th remains an INSET day.



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