Hampshire headteachers 'in the dark' over January Covid-19 restrictions in schools

SCHOOLCHILDREN learning from home again should only be a 'last resort' a headteacher has said.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 3:25 pm

Concerns have been raised by headteachers across Hampshire as they are left 'in the dark' about what new measures could be introduced in schools.

It comes as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 leads to a surge in infections across the country.

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Headteacher Stewart Vaughan of Priory School. Picture: Habibur Rahman

At Priory School in Southsea, roughly half of all staff have tested positive during this term - despite the school maintaining more restrictions than most.

Headteacher Stewart Vaughan said: 'We kept one-way systems, bubbles and compulsory face coverings, and I dread to think what could have happened if we didn't.

'It was our choice to keep things like this, because we knew there would probably be some challenges in the winter - nobody could have predicted omicron but we wanted to be prepared for anything.

'This has been the toughest school term I've ever experienced, and the situation is changing so rapidly that we have no idea what to expect in January.

'Home learning would be the last resort though, and we would move heaven and earth to avoid it - it would be very disappointing, but public health has to be the priority.'

Mr Vaughan also expressed his pride for every pupil and member of staff at Priory School, for sticking together through such a difficult term.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said the government will help to get supply teachers through school doors, to help with the persistent Covid-related absences.

Cowplain Community School headteacher Ian Gates echoed Mr Vaughan's sentiment, adding that he also feels uncertain about the January term.

Mr Gates said: 'It's impossible to call what schools will look like in January - all we know so far is that we'll be doing lateral flow tests on the first few days.

'We're following the government advice and that's just where we are at the moment. The government has said they expect things to change in schools, but for now we're in the dark as to what that could actually mean.

'We were told last year that remote learning wouldn't happen, and look how that turned out. But we've had two years of this now so there's nothing we're not prepared for.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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