Harrogate school asks parents to keep Years 8, 9 and 12 children at home as coronavirus leaves them unable to staff full timetable

Harrogate Grammar School has announced it will be closing Years 8, 9 and 12 today due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 8:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 9:32 am

A letter was sent out to parents on Monday evening informing them of the move which also includes a series of actions designed to limit the chances of pupils catching Covid-19.

Headteacher Neil Renton explained in the letter how the measures were due to not being able to staff the full timetable, and designed to protect the teaching of examination classes in Year 11 and Year 13.

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Harrogate Hospital confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Sunday. Now, due to the escalation of action from the Government requiring people with symptoms to self-isolate, Harrogate Grammar School has taken action to close three year groups today.

The letter to parents was also posted on the school website and comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the need for "drastic action" to tackle the coronavirus crisis, in a dramatic escalation of the government's response.

Mr Johnson, while stopping short of telling schools to shut down, said "if you or anyone in your household" had one of the two symptoms - a high temperature or continuous cough - "you should stay at home for 14 days".

He said: "That means that if possible you should not go out, even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise and in that case at a safe distance from others.

"Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel."

As well as closing the school on Tuesday to the three year groups, Mr Renton stated that lunch times will be staggered to reduce the number of children congregating together at any one time, that assemblies would no longer take place and that the school production of Oliver Twist on Thursday, March 19 had been cancelled.

An update on the closure and whether classes will return to normal is expected on Tuesday.

"The recent measures that have been put in place this evening by the Government mean that, despite guidance to not close schools, we are not able to staff the full timetable," Mr Renton said. "We have, therefore, made the decision to close the school tomorrow (Tuesday) for Years 8, 9 and 12. We will deliver the timetable as normal, with necessary cover, to Year 7, 10, 11 and 13.

"We would like to reiterate the message that children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others.

"We continue to encourage the children in school to wash their hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water. Also to reduce the spread of germs, we will continue to encourage children when they cough or sneeze, to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue, or their sleeve (not their hands) if they don't have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately.

"I very much recognise that these are exceptional times and I would like to thank you for your support, cooperation and understanding."