Sheffield school classing all pupils as ‘vulnerable’ to reopen announces it will stay closed

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A Sheffield school that planned to fully reopen on January 6 by classing all its students as ‘vulnerable’ has now announced that it will remain closed, in line with national lockdown measures.

Yesterday (January 5) The Star reported that Mercia School, in Carterknowle, was going to reopen on January 6, in spite of Government advice that schools in Sheffield should teach years 11 and 13 online until January 11 and other years until January 18.

The school planned to do this by classing all its students as ‘vulnerable’, due to the amount of time they spent away from school during lockdown, meaning they would be permitted to attend school.

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However, following the Government’s announcement of a national lockdown yesterday evening, the school has now told parents that it will remain closed.

Mercia School. Picture Scott MerryleesMercia School. Picture Scott Merrylees
Mercia School. Picture Scott Merrylees

In a letter to parents, headteacher Dean Webster said: “I am sure, like me, you all watched the 8pm address by the Prime Minister, in which he placed England into another National Lockdown.

“It is clear that the new variant is spreading at alarming speed. Since I last wrote to you, a week ago, Covid patients have increased by a third nationally.

"Therefore, he said if this action is not taken, NHS capacity could be overwhelmed within 21 days. This is simply a position we all must work together to avoid.

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“All schools are to remain closed and move to remote learning from Wednesday 6 January. I am so sorry but we cannot open as planned.

"I know this will be deeply upsetting for the huge majority of our pupils and for many parents. I am acutely aware that there is no real impactful substitute for face-to-face teaching, but we will endeavour to give your child continuity and support in their studies.

"These next few weeks will be difficult, please be assured we will be in regular contact. As ever we are always here to support you, if required.”

The letter added that ‘extremely vulnerable’ children, and children of key workers, could still attend school ‘as a last resort’.

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In a television address last night (January 4) the Prime Minister bowed to significant union pressure to close all schools to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The new lockdown measures are expected to last until at least mid-February.