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Mother’s Concerns Over Covid Infections at Effingham Schools Show a ‘Misunderstanding of the Facts’

Published on: 7 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 8 Dec, 2021

Howard of Effingham School

By Chris Dick

An Effingham mother is concerned with the level of Covid infection in two Effingham schools, St Lawrence Primary and The Howard of Effingham Sixth Form, and the way the schools have reacted.

Helena Lawrence claimed that in the last fortnight, Public Health have been involved at the schools due to a substantial increase in Covid cases leaving a third of pupils are currently off at the end of last week and, if children’s accounts are correct, about 10 staff members.

In a letter to The Howard Partnership Trust management, responsible for 13 Surrey schools,  Ms Lawrence wrote: “This has been dealt with in a slow and unsafe way by the schools. …You have been slow in slowing the spread of the virus, within not just the school but the whole community, with The Howard also being hugely affected…”

Aerial view of the Howard of Effingham School

But David Blackmore a spokesperson for The Howard Partnership Trust (THPT) responded: “It is evident that there has been a misunderstanding of the facts.

“Public Health England and Surrey County Council’s have been involved since the weekend of November 27/28 when a single Year 2 class hit the threshold defined by Public Health England of:

  • five children, pupils, students or staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for COVID-19 within a 10-day period;
  • 10% of children, pupils, students or staff who are likely to have mixed closely test positive for COVID-19 within a 10-day period.

“The level of positive COVID cases, at its peak, has been limited to 14 per cent of students.

“And the claim that “at least ten staff members” are off is not correct. There have been sufficient teaching staff available for all classes to be taught, each day. The number of positive covid cases among staff was limited to five members.”

Executive Principal Phillip Wheatley at THPT said: “As soon as the cases were reported to the school, proactive action was taken in line with our Covid-19 risk assessment. All of the single class Year 2 families were advised to have their children Covid tested as were all of the possible staff contacts. They were all asked not return to school without a negative result. This is in line with our risk-averse approach to Covid-19.”

“We were able to take action using Trust guidance quickly as soon as an increase in cases was identified. No decisions were delayed. In fact, they were taken swiftly and decisively with support from Public Health England and Surrey County Council.”

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