Yesterday (October 12), Morgan Thomas, principal of The Littlehampton Academy, wrote to parents to say that a Year 11 student had the virus.
In the letter, seen by the paper, Mr Thomas instructed all Year 11 students to stay at home and self-isolate today (October 13) while the school tracked down students and staff that would have come into close contact with the infected teenager.
He said: “Once we are certain that all close contacts have been identified, we will be able to make an informed decision on next steps. “This will be one of two outcomes:
”Close contacts can be identified and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. The remainder of Year 11 will be able to return to the academy.
”There are too many close contacts, or too much uncertainty about contacts within the Year 11 bubble, and the whole of Year 11 will be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days.”
In a statement sent to the paper, Mr Thomas said a ‘dedicated team spent many hours last night, and much of today’ carrying out the plan and they had decided to tell Year 11 students to self-isolate for two weeks.
He said: “Although a majority of the year group were not identified as ‘close contacts’ the decision was taken as a precautionary step to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and families.
“TLA staff are now working hard to ensure continuity of learning for the Year 11 students in this critical year of their education. We have invested in technology and training to ensure that we are able to plan and deliver high quality online resources and these plans are now being activated.”
The Littlehampton Academy is the largest secondary school in the town. According to Ofsted, it has a capacity for 1,900 students in total.
Residents have praised the school for how it has responded to this situation.
On Facebook, Jessica Edwards said: “I don’t think the schools management of it can be faulted, they flagged it with parents as soon as they knew themselves, the students are in bubbles to limit any sort of spread and so far one case in a school this large I think is good going.
“Hope the student has a quick recovery.”
Parent Corinna Jones praised the academy’s handling of social distancing. She said: “I think the school have handled this challenging time extremely well. They have been as honest with us as they can be the whole duration, communication has been brilliant and they even held a virtual progress day for parents with tutors which allowed parents to address any concerns.
“I wish all the best to the family, staff and students that have been impacted.”
Mr Thomas went on to say: “As always, our community has responded well to this event. The students and staff of TLA are resilient people and always come together in times of need.
“My colleagues have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students; our young people have taken things in their stride as they always do; and we have received many messages of support from our parents which are much appreciated.
“On behalf of the staff and students of TLA, I would like to send my very best wishes to our
unwell student; we wish them and their family a speedy recovery.”
Other year groups have been unaffected because of the ‘year group bubbles’ system in place.
In yesterday’s letter to parents, Mr Thomas said: “I do understand that this will cause some anxiety and upset. I would like to assure you that all possible steps are being taken to ensure that the correct procedures are now followed to maintain public safety whilst at the same time attempting to minimise disruption to students’ education and family life.”