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Coronavirus: Norfolk headteacher reveals how schools are coping

PUBLISHED: 10:57 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:30 19 March 2020

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market preparing for school closure. Picture: Ian Burt

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market preparing for school closure. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A headteacher at a Norfolk school has said schools have faced “unprecedented challenges” over coronavirus and staff are on the “front line in keeping the country functioning” ahead of nationwide closures tomorrow.

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market responded to government advice this week and cancelled all assemblies and swimming lessons and also stopped visits from non-employed adults onto the school site.

Matthew Try, headteacher, said: “It’s been an unbelievably manic week for schools with the numbers of children absent from school steadily increasing as the week has gone on.

“The scale of the challenge has been unprecedented, with daily changes to the ways schools function in a bid to keep schools open and, most importantly to keep the children and staff safe.

“However, school staff are now in the front line of helping to keep the country functioning at these difficult times and will be keeping their doors open to the children of other front line staff such as health workers.”

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market preparing for school closure.  Pictured is Headteacher, Matthew Try. Picture: Ian BurtHillcrest Primary School in Downham Market preparing for school closure. Pictured is Headteacher, Matthew Try. Picture: Ian Burt

The headteacher said the primary issue was dealing with staff shortages and the challenge of finding key workers as a result of people self-isolating.

He added: “I would stress at this point that no staff member has been confirmed as having Covid-19.”

Teachers at the school have been working on plans that will see teaching continued when they close, such as using Google Classrooms.

Mr Try said: “The team have put together paper-based resources that will keep all of the children engaged in learning whilst at home for the first week.

“Beyond day five, staff will then upload work online via Google Classrooms, which is a platform that will allow the children to return all completed work to their teachers for marking.

“I am incredibly proud of the way Hillcrest staff have rallied round and continued to make this challenging time as calm and normal for the children as possible.

“We look forward to returning to normality once this current health situation subsides.”

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