Entire school closes after Covid-19 outbreak

A special needs school has taken the “very difficult decision” to close for a fortnight after an outbreak of Covid-19.

In a letter sent home to parents today, The Orchard School in Canterbury confirmed “several members” of its community have tested positive for the virus.

The Orchard School, in Cambridge Road, Canterbury

Head teacher Annabel Lilley said: “We know that you will find this concerning and we are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England (PHE).”

Children who have been in “direct, prolonged contact with the confirmed case” will be required to quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of contact. Their parents were contacted by phone today.

But owing to the “significant numbers” of staff that are required to self-isolate, Ms Lilley announced the school has made the “very difficult decision” to close for two weeks until November 23.

She wrote: “We have had to consider the health and safety implication of this situation and balance the vital importance of continued education against the imperative priority to keep everyone safe.

Head teacher Annabel Lilley

“The Senior Leadership Team alongside the governing body and the local authority, in consultation with PHE, consider temporary full closure to be the only course of action at this stage in order to keep everyone safe.”

Based in Cambridge Road, The Orchard School is a Foundation Special School which caters for up to 83 pupils in key stages 2 to 4, with social, emotional and mental health difficulties.

In a separate letter to parents, assistant head teacher Grace Jones outlined remote learning facilities that are available to pupils while the school is shut.

Ms Lilley said: “It remains our priority that your children continue to access their learning uninterrupted during this challenging and difficult time.

“We will be resuming the robust pastoral support that we implemented during the lockdown during the summer, so our staff will be in touch soon to ensure you are all safe and well and gaining access to the vital learning resources we have available.

The Orchard School in Canterbury has closed for two weeks

“I realise how disruptive and stressful the decision to close the school will be for all of you.

“But please remember by working together, we can ensure that the young people continue with their education. I will always ensure that the safety of all pupils, families and staff remains my priority. Stay safe.”

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