Pupil numbers ‘manageable’ but 56 schools closed or partially closed
PUBLISHED: 16:46 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 23 March 2020
Dozens of schools in Norfolk remained closed on the first day of coronavirus measures with many still working on the “challenging” situation of providing education to the most vulnerable and the children of key workers.
Teaching leaders said parents appeared to have heeded warnings not to send children into school unless it was a last resort.
But while schools were expected to open on Monday for children of so-called key workers - including medics, police and food distribution staff - 56 in Norfolk were either totally or partially closed.
Among those not open on Monday was Diss High School, which is closed to all pupils including children of key workers due to health and safety issues.
Due to the “high level of demand” for key worker children spaces, Brundall School was also closed to “enable us to allocate places fairly”.
Both Gayton Primary Academy and Middleton Primary Academy were closed for deep cleans but hoped to reopen on Tuesday for children of critical care workers.
St Mary’s Junior School in Long Stratton was also undergoing a deep clean, but will reopen “by invitation only” to critical key worker’s children on Tuesday.
Walpole Cross Keys Primary School is fully closed but key worker children and vulnerable children are instead being bused to West Lynn Primary School.
Low staffing numbers means Wormegay Church of England Primary will be closed until at least after the Easter holidays, but provision is instead being made for children at Runcton Holme Primary.
There are 422 schools in Norfolk and education leaders have been working to put a plan in place that will ensure children have continuity of education.
Sara Tough, executive director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We’re working closely with headteachers, principals and governors to plan for coming days and weeks – the scale of this task cannot be underestimated and the situation is unprecedented.
“Our priority is ensuring children are safe and the most vulnerable children have the support and care they need.”
Amongst those most seriously affected are specialist schools whose pupils have special or complex needs.
Chapel Green School in Old Buckenham said it had closed because it did not have enough staff with the correct training or experience to “safely meet all the complex needs of our pupils”.
Fred Nicholson School in Dereham said it was “uncertain at this stage when we will be able to re-open”.
Eaton Hall Specialist Academy said an increasing number of staff isolating meant it was no longer safe to open. “We hope to be able to open to the highest priority pupils after the Easter holidays,” it added.
The Clare School in Norwich is closed until further notice because it cannot guarantee having enough staff available with the specialist skills to keep pupils safe.
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