Seaford school to close to all except vulnerable and key worker children

A Seaford school is to close to everyone except vulnerable and key worker children from tomorrow.
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Robin Tollyfield, headteacher of Chyngton School said he is making the announcement with a ‘heavy heart’.

He said: “School will be closed to all children except those of key workers and vulnerable children from tomorrow.

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“This situation has occurred because I have received around 40 letters so far from individual members of staff stating that they are unwilling to work in accordance with section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 as they do not believe that school remains a safe environment under the government’s current guidance.


“In their letter they state:

“The most recent advice from SAGE is that schools should not open in January other than for children of key workers and vulnerable children. This is because the scientific advice is that it is not safe for schools to open. There are new variants of Covid-19 that are highly infectious and infection rates have increased significantly since schools closed.”

“Staff have said that they will be willing to work with vulnerable children and those of critical key workers but not if there are other groups of children present in school. Therefore in discussion with governors I have taken the difficult decision to close school to most children, including breakfast and after school club.”

The school will provide home learning electronically (and physically if necessary) and teachers will be ensuring that new learning is accompanied by videos, he added. Staff will also expect tasks to be completed and uploaded to Dojo and will support parents to achieve this with their children.

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He said: “Many members of staff have expressed to me the view that this is not just about their own personal health and safety but it also about keeping our community protected against the new strain of the virus and trying to ensure that our local hospitals are not overwhelmed. You may agree or disagree with this viewpoint.

“I am committed to working with staff, union representatives and East Sussex County Council to try to resolve this dispute so that we can reopen our school as soon as possible and will let you know when this happens.

“However, the government has not yet given us any flexibility to adapt the current guidance to reflect the new concerns around transmission.

“If you are entitled to free school meals please look out for further information tomorrow morning.”

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In a separate statement to parents of vulnerable and key worker children he said: “Children who have previously been allocated places

“If you previously completed an application and were allocated a place, we will expect to see your children in school tomorrow.

“There is no need to complete a new application but we will need to check your child against our existing lists in the morning, so please be prepared for this.

“Please attend school at the same time and at the same gate as you did before the Christmas holiday.

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“Children will be kept in their year groups, which is a different arrangement to what was in place prior to the summer holiday. If in doubt you can check your time and gate here:

“If you have not previously been allocated a place at school and you urgently require one because you are an NHS worker and you do not have any other option for childcare, please contact us on 01323 893281 at 8:00am tomorrow morning.

“We will allocate your place over the phone and you can complete an application form later. Please note this option is only available for NHS workers.”

For all other new applications he urged parents to request a form tomorrow morning by emailing [email protected] and to complete it as soon as possible.

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He said: “We will process these forms as quickly as we can and in some cases this may mean we are able to offer a place during the course of tomorrow morning.

“Depending upon the number of applications we receive, we will aim to have them all completed by tomorrow so that any remaining places can be taken up on Tuesday.

“Please remember that the reason the school has been forced to close is around the risk presented by the new strain of the virus and it is now accepted that children transmit the virus into family homes. If you have other options for childcare, you may wish to consider these before taking a key worker place at school.

“Please note we are unable to provide breakfast and after school club for the time being.”

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