The Blackwood Comprehensive School has closed its doors to grade 8 and 9 students following an increase in Covid cases which, according to principal Jane Wilkie, “contrasts sharply with the few we’ve had over the past 18 years. previous months ”.
She informed the parents of the news in a letter Monday morning.
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Wednesday one The WalesOnline report found that in parts of Wales – including the Borough of Caerphilly – almost half of localized cases of Covid have involved staff and students.
The letter reads: ‘You may have seen an article in WalesOnline over the weekend that highlighted Blackwood and North Blackwood (Argoed and Markham) as areas of Wales with over 1,200 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people.
“This has had a direct impact on our school community where we have seen an increasing number of positive cases since our return in September. This is in stark contrast to how little we have had over the previous 18 months. “
Data released by Public Health Wales shows the latest figures on a seven-day average for weekly infection rates. The most up-to-date information shows data based on the week to September 20.
North Blackwood Argoed and Markham recorded 99 cases in those seven days at a rate of 1,745.1 per 100,000, while Blackwood recorded 93 cases at a rate of 1,265.3 per 100,000. two main areas of Gwent for cases per 100,000 people for this week.
More broadly, in the seven days leading up to September 19, Blackwood and North Blackwood were in Wales’ eight most-at-risk areas. You can see these numbers in full here.
Ms Wilkie added: “Today we have a significant number of staff absences and we are struggling to find supply coverage. I spoke to our governing body chairman and the local authority to identify a way forward.
“As a result, I have now made the difficult decision to move grade 8 and 9 students to distance education starting Tuesday September 28th. This will continue at least for the rest of the week.
“Keeping the school open for face-to-face learning has been my priority, but we cannot do it safely in the current situation with staff. “
Ms Wilkie is one of many school principals in Wales who have had to make such difficult decisions in recent days.
The Welsh Government’s weekly school attendance report showed on Wednesday that for the week ending 17 September 1.7% of pupils in Wales – the equivalent of 6,016 pupils – were absent from schools for some reason linked to Covid in Wales.
Education Minister Jeremy Miles said the Welsh government had “watched Scotland very closely” and believed Wales was following a similar pattern.
“We thought we could see an increase in the number,” he said. ‘It’s important to look at Scotland, where the school term started about three weeks before Wales and at the equivalent point where we are now, positive cases were increasing [in Scotland], and then they started to go down.
“It is very important that we keep the situation under review. The framework in place allows school leaders to know how to handle any event.
The executives each school in Wales has worked with during the new term are setting restrictions depending on whether the localized risk of Covid is low, moderate, high or very high.
Caerphilly’s board has been contacted for comment.
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