'Split corridors and small social bubbles ' - How this Sheffield school is minimising the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak

Charnock Hall Primary Academy is one of only a handful of schools in Sheffield that have not yet reported any Covid-19 cases this academic year.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 4:45 pm

Despite this, headteacher Paul Burgess says he remains ever aware that a coronavirus outbreak could happen and is therefore focused on ensuring that safety measures implemented to keep his staff, pupils, and wider school community safe, are always followed.

The school, on Carter Hall Road, is in the Charnock area – a suburb which has seen low numbers of coronavirus cases compared to other parts of the city, with the latest figures from Public Health England revealing there were nine new cases in the week up to October 9.

It fully reopened to pupils on Thursday, September 3, with staff previously taking part in training sessions to learn about the updated risk assessments and procedures that had been put in place.

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Charnock Hall Academy headteacher Paul Burgess with the head boys and girls.

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Mr Burgess said: “We were quite strict from the start in regards to our expectations of other people coming onto site and using the site because we wanted to make sure for staff, pupils, and other parents and stakeholders, that we were keeping people as safe as possible.

“We decided from the get go that anybody entering site would have to wear a face mask, whether that was inside or outside.

"Parents have been brilliant, they’ve supported any decision we’ve made. The procedures we’ve put into place – one way systems, split corridors, and all the other measures – have all been to try and deter us having any cases for as long as possible.

At Charnock Hall Academy, pupils are always sat next to the same person in lesson to minimise the potential spread of Covid-19

"This has allowed pupils to return to school, return to classes, and return to their studies and start to make really good progress from the start of year baseline that we did already which is a definite positive.”

Pupils at Charnock Academy are allowed to mix with other students in their small ‘social bubbles’ while outside at break and lunctime.

However, the rules are stricter in classes and while in the corridors to minimise any potential spread of Covid-19

Mr Burgess said: "Charnock is right on the Sheffield/Derbyshire border. If you look at maps, Charnock has got a very low number of cases which has helped but it’s only a matter of time before we get a case.

Charnock Hall Academy headteacher Paul Burgess.

"But, to minimise risk, children are sat next to the same person all the time in classrooms, then at lunctime they’re sat next to that person as well in their bubbles.”

He added: "Charnock Academy was built, in the first instance, as a hospital many years ago so one thing we do have is internal space. We’ve been able to put a line straight through the downstairs Year 2 corridor and children and staff follow that, they always walk on the left.

"Staff also wear masks, they don’t in classrooms but they do in communal areas.

“It’s just another level to stop that spread which, up to this point, has worked. What we can’t legislate for us anybody bringing anything on to site but we’re confident that our procedures on site are as tight as they possibly can be.”

Children have been able to get back into their lessons at Charnock Hall Academy. Pictured are Year 1 pupils reading

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Children using the new corridor one way system at Charnock Hall Academy
Head boys and girls at Charnock Hall Academy, Sheffield.
Pictures is the Year 5 and 6 play area partition at Charnock Hall Academy