Primary school forced to close for two weeks due to low staffing levels

Hillside Primary School in Ipswich Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Hillside Primary School in Ipswich Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Rachel Edge

An Ipswich primary school has been forced to close until the end of the current lockdown period.

Hillside Primary School has asked that pupils remain at home for the next two weeks due to low staffing levels.

The school, which serves the Maidenhall and Stoke areas of town, said the higher than normal level of absence was due to the combined impact of usual illness and staff following government self isolation guidelines.

It said the closure was not the result of any new cases of coronavirus.

However, the school confirmed there had been a total of five positive Covid-19 tests across the school community.

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It said the infections were due to either close contact with confirmed cases or contact with others outside the school.

Some other staff are understood to be absent due to the need to look after another person in a clinically extremely vulnerable group.

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The Active Learning Trust academy primary school has the capacity to teach up to 710 pupils aged three to 11.

All schools must maintain a certain ratio of staff to students for health and safety reasons.

The school said it expected staffing levels to be back at the right level following the closure.

All parents are said to have been informed of the decision.

Tracy McKenzie, headteacher, said: “Under normal circumstances, staff absences rarely cause problems and can be quickly solved.

“However, under the current circumstances, schools are facing several challenges with staff absences which are higher than normal.

“Unfortunately, as we will have low staffing levels for the next two weeks, and in the interest of our pupils’ safety and wellbeing, we have taken the decision to close the school and ask that all pupils remain at home until Wednesday, December 2.

“This decision has been made following advice from Active Learning Trust, Public Health England, and Suffolk County Council.

“All pupils will be able to continue their learning online with the support and guidance of their teachers.

“We sincerely apologise for the disruption this will cause our families but want to reassure the community that we will always act in the best interests of our pupils’ safety and wellbeing.”

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