Dated: 7th Dec 2020.
After extensive dialogue, I have taken the incredibly difficult decision to close the Year 8, 9, 10 & 11 Year Groups with immediate effect and move their education to remote online Microsoft Teams learning until the end of this term (Friday 18th December). This decision is made with the full agreement and support of the Trust, Public Health England and the Local Authority.
The following key considerations have been crucial in shaping the decision:
I have endeavoured to provide regular updates on the impact that COVID19 is having on our academy, this despite the extensive measures that we have put in place to mitigate the risk. At the start of this ½ term, our Year 11s were remote learning via Microsoft Teams, then subsequently Year 9s followed this model with remote learning using Oak National Academy. These measures were implemented because we experienced spikes in COVID19 positives in each of the Year Groups. Unfortunately, in the last 2 weeks the number of confirmed COVID19 positive cases has continued to rise across our student and staff body. You will also have seen in the local press that Thurrock COVID19 positive cases have risen very quickly and that Thurrock has the 3rd highest rate of transmission in the East of England.
Alongside a number of students testing positive across all Year Groups, with our Year 7s being the lowest, we have also unfortunately had a number of teachers test positive with several more awaiting test results. Consequently, we have had regularly between 15-20 teachers having to self-isolate daily and many of these staff will continue to self-isolate until the end of term and cannot attend work. It is therefore not safe, or responsible, to open our academy to all students and staff as usual and instead online provision is the best option to ensure that disruption to learning is minimised and so that we can safeguard our school community.
As you would expect, we have remained in close daily contact with both Public Health England and the Local Authority throughout this period. Having discussed the situation with them at length about the best course of action we need to take to keep infections as low as possible and provide the best educational provision possible, the following will be in place from tomorrow morning (Tuesday 8th December):
Closure of Year 8, 9, 10 & 11 Year Groups (ASCEND will remain open)
Year 7 Arrangements
Work arrangements until the end of term for Year 8, 9, 10 & 11
I appreciate that the management of the pandemic is a matter of much debate but I assure you that we are acting on the best advice and with the health and wellbeing of our whole community as our first priority, balanced against the crucial protection of educational provision.
If your child is in Years 8-11, please do not hesitate to contact the academy office should your child have any issues accessing their learning from home as they are not physically attending the academy until January.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support, cooperation and understanding. It is hugely appreciated, at what continues to be a challenging time for everyone.
All students have already been trained on how to use Microsoft Teams in case of this eventuality.
Here is a reminder to students how to access Microsoft Teams Teaching and below is a link to an instructional PowerPoint:
Logging onto Microsoft Teams