SEVERAL schools across the borough were forced to close social bubbles this week after outbreaks of coronavirus hit - just one week into the new term.
A total of six schools - Barugh Green Primary School, Athersley South Primary School, Wellgate Primary School, Mapplewell, and St Michael’s and All Angels Primary School in Wombwell, St Helen’s Primary Academy, Monk Bretton, and Outwood Academy in Carlton - made the announcement that social bubbles would be forced to close after pupils, parents, or staff at the schools contracted the virus.
The announcements were made just days into the new school term after many children had been learning from home during the four-month lockdown period, as it emerged Barnsley residents now have to travel as far as Oldham, near Manchester, to have a coronavirus test.
Joe Woffinden, headteacher at Barugh Green Primary School, said: “Some parents contacted us to tell us their child had tested positive for the virus and we reached out to our representatives and Public Health England who advised us about the best course of action.
“We contacted parents of the children in the bubbles and explained that their child would be required to isolate for two weeks.
“When the children were picked up, I made sure to answer any questions the parents and guardians may have as we realise it is a strange situation to be in.
“Staff have also been briefed about what to do, and we are working on maintaining hand washing with the other bubbles in the school.
“We are also working to ensure that the children in the affected bubbles do not miss out on any learning and remote resources will be made available to them. Our priority is keeping our staff and students safe throughout the pandemic.”
A parent of a child in the affected social bubble at Barugh Green Primary School, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they felt that schools should have remained closed to prevent a second wave of the virus.
“They have just gone back, and now my child has to be at home for two weeks,” they said.
“The kids were doing fine learning remotely but they were forced back into the classroom.
“Now I feel they are at risk and could be putting others at risk.
“I don’t want my child’s health to be at risk when they are at school, and I don’t want to worry about who they have been in contact with. It’s completely ridiculous, they haven’t even been back two weeks yet.”
Barnsley has seen a rise in reported cases of the virus with 67 new cases reported from August 30 to September 5 - an increase of 48 cases compared to the previous week.
Coun Margaret Bruff, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services, said: “Schools are acting quickly and ensuring the safety of pupils and staff in all cases. Parents, carers and staff are being notified immediately and are being kept updated.
“We know that any closures of school bubbles may cause difficulties for some parents and carers, and we would like to thank them for their understanding of the situation.
“We urge parents and carers to follow the advice given to them by official sources such as schools, the council and Public Health England.”
Children in the affected bubbles at Barugh Green and Athersley South Primary can return to the classroom on September 17 and the pupils from Wellgate, St Michael’s, and St Helen’s on September 21.
Pupils from Outwood Academy in Carlton will return on September 24.
Meanwhile, Barnsley College was forced to close two campuses yesterday after three members of staff tested positive for the virus.
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths Centre, and the automotive technologies campuses will be temporarily closed as a result.
Yiannis Koursis, principal and chief executive of Barnsley College said: “We sought advice from Public Health England immediately and took all appropriate actions.
“I want to reassure all students, parents and staff that our college campuses continue to meet the Covid-secure measures and remain open.”
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