A Covid outbreak at a special school in Croydon borough has left two pupils in hospital and forced the school to close. Priory School on Hermitage Road, Upper Norwood, a school for 11 to 19-year-olds with learning difficulties and disabilities, has had at least 39 cases in the past week.
In a letter to parents, headteacher Julie Evans said those infected have become “fairly unwell” and two students are in hospital. The “incredible spread of the infection ” has seen 11 of their 18 teachers become unwell, forcing the school to close this week (commencing March 14). There will be no spaces for just key worker children either, as was the case during lockdowns.
Ms Evans said, according to London News Online : “Following my message earlier this week, the Covid situation at the school has continued to deteriorate. We now have 39 known cases in the past week and we have two students in hospital.
“The infection is spreading rapidly amongst both staff and students, we are also seeing those infected being fairly unwell rather than with mild symptoms that we have seen previously. Public Health England believes this may be due to waning immunity, particularly among the staff team who had early initial vaccinations and therefore boosters were mostly five to six months ago.
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“Public Health England has advised that the school be closed completely next week with a view to reopening on Monday, March 21. The education department within the local authority has authorised this decision.”
The Upper Norwood school had already introduced measures to attempt to stem the spread of the virus, including all staff wearing masks, eating in classrooms rather than the cafeteria, and having no indoor group activities. Ms Evans continued: “At the beginning of next week it will be very difficult for us to provide any remote or online learning. At the moment I only have seven out of 18 teachers well enough to work.”
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She continued: “We will also not be offering any places to key worker children as the closure is being driven by the incredible spread of the infection and full closure is the only way for us to attempt to get on top of it. As in previous times that we have been forced in this direction, we understand the very significant pressure this places on all families and young people with a sudden change of routine and needing to balance child and work responsibilities.
The school said it will not be able to offer places to children of key workers as they believe full closure is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Croydon Council confirmed that the school contacted them following a localised Covid outbreak at the end of last week.
A spokesperson for the council said: “After discussion with the headteacher, public health and the London Coronavirus Response Centre (LCRC), a week-long ‘circuit breaker’ was agreed to allow for staff and pupil recovery. This will be reviewed at the end of the week. Circuit breakers have been standard practice throughout the pandemic, and indeed in any communicable disease outbreak.”
MyLondon has contacted the school for more information.
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