Press Statement; St. Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Sixth Form College

Council working to contain outbreak at Pontefract School

Wakefield Council is supporting a Pontefract high school after eight members of staff and nine children have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Council is working closely with St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and Sixth Form College in Pontefract, and Public Health England (PHE), to help limit the spread of the virus.

Anna Hartley, Wakefield’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are working closely with St Wilfrid’s, providing support and advice, following eight members of staff and nine pupils testing positive.

“We would like to thank the school for their quick actions to identify cases, as well as those that they have been in close contact with, and asking them all to self-isolate.

“We understand that parents may be concerned, but please be reassured that the risk to pupils is low and all necessary steps and precautions, including enhanced cleaning, have taken place.

“Although the figures may sound high, it is less than 1% of the school population that has currently been affected.

“The school remains open as usual to Years 7, 8, 9 and 11 and we will continue to provide support, in line with the latest government advice, to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

Due to significantly reduced staffing levels caused by a directive to self-isolate, the school have taken the decision to temporarily close to all of Year 10, Year 12 and Year 13. Pupils in these year groups do not need to self-isolate unless they have already been directed to do so.

Lesley Fitton, Trust CEO, said: “Senior Leaders from the Trust and St Wilfrid’s have worked quickly to identify, report and respond to the current situation, in accordance with current government guidance.

“Robust systems, processes and control measures are under constant review to help us reduce the transmission, as well as support staff and students within our school environment.

“We aim to support all of our students to access a balanced education and curriculum, not only to support their academic attainment but to ensure their mental health and wellbeing remains a key focus during these challenging times.

“In terms of maintaining academic support for our young people, we have a system in place to adapt learning and maximise the opportunities for students to learn remotely from home. We will continue to use online resources to deliver content remotely for students to access their lessons. We are working to ensure that teachers deliver these lessons ‘live’, whilst partial closures remain in place. Teachers will calendar lessons for students to join and explain the key concepts of the lesson. There is a ‘How to’ guide for students on the school website to help them use the online resources, if they are unsure how to access this work or the ‘live’ sessions.”

Families are reminded that those who have symptoms of COVID-19 – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of taste and smell – however mild, need to self-isolate and get tested.

The local testing service is available from Monday to Friday and bookings for appointments can be made at www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or using the NHS Test and Trace app, or by calling 01924 224497. Or email the person’s name and contact details to wakefield.covidtesting@nhs.net so the booking team can get in touch.

Wakefield’s local service will give priority to school children and essential workers. It is vital that only those displaying symptoms request a test so they can be used for those who really need them.

If a child, aged between 2 – 12 years has symptoms, a test can be brought to the house for the parent to swab the child. If the parent struggles to manage this then an assisted swabbing service can be offered for children aged 2 – 12 years where nursing staff can arrange a home visit to help.

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