Ursuline College shuts to all year groups as Covid absences in staff and students continue to rise

Ursuline College has had to close to all students

Ursuline College in Westgate has put in place a full closure until December 1 due to Covid cases resulting in staff  and student absences.

A letter to parents and carers sent today (November 16) says: “We are writing to inform you of our decision to close Ursuline College to all pupils for a two week period to coincide with the remainder of the national lockdown.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“However, we continue to see an acceleration of positive Covid cases in our district and we have a very significant number of staff who are absent from school due to the need to self-isolate (the majority as a result of contact from NHS Track and Trace).

“It is no longer possible to run the school effectively and safely, hence the need for this decision.”

In the last two weeks the school has had 19 confirmed Covid cases amongst students across all years and three confirmed staff cases.

These have meant Years 10, 12 and 13 needing to self-isolate and Year 7 had been asked to work from home because of the staff shortage.

In Year 8, 50 pupils are self-isolating, 67 are self-isolating from Year 9 and 83 from Year 11.

Twenty-five staff are absent. As of today there are a massive 633 children absent from the school.

The letter says: “As a result Ursuline College will be closed to all year groups from Tuesday, November 17 up to and including Monday, November 30.”

The intention is to fully reopen on December 1 but this will be kept under review.

Image Nick Smith / Sandwich Technology School (wikimedia commons)

Yesterday (November 15) a letter to parents/carers was issued by Sandwich Tech head teacher Tracey Savage confirming the full closure of the school, and neighbouring Sir Roger Manwood’s, until December 1.

It followed confirmed Covid cases in Years 7,8 and 10 at the Tech.

Ms Savage said that within the space of 7 days there have been:

4 cases amongst the student body that have required students and staff to self-isolate;

8 further cases amongst the wider school community that have luckily (according to PHE) not required the school to take further action, but have been monitored carefully;

37 (out of 75) teaching staff who are now also required to self-isolate – some of these are as a direct result of the cases in school and some are for reasons outside of school;

An increase in the number of lessons that are being covered by non-specialist teachers – this is now at about 50 per cent;

The letter says: “It is with regret – and after much reflection and careful analysis – that I have taken the very difficult decision to close Sandwich Technology School to all students until Monday 30 November.”

Year closures today

Year 8 at Hartsdown Academy in Margate has also been sent home today (November 16) following a confirmed Covid case. Students in the year group will return on November 30.

Year 9 students at St George’s in Broadstairs are also being asked to remain at home from tomorrow until November 30. A letter to parents/carers says: “This is due to an increase in infections in this year group, the need to ensure we can reduce any likely spread of the virus amongst the school population and due to increasing staff pressures.”

SureStart children’s centre Millmead is also closed until November 30 due to Covid cases.

Thanet data

The rate of weekly Covid cases per 100,000 people for Thanet is now recorded as 467.9 (6 November to 12 November), according to data published by Kent County Council. The England average is 269.5.

Swale has again risen to the Kent area most affected by the virus, recording 530.4 weekly cases per 100,000 people.

Yesterday’s (November 15) figures on the government coronavirus dashboard show 139 new cases reported for Thanet, making a total of 716 cases between November 9-15. This is a rise of 337 (or 88.9%) on the figure for the previous seven days.

The total number of people in Thanet who have had a confirmed positive test result as of November 14 was 2,542.

There were five deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Coronavirus reported for the week to 15 November for Thanet. The total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus was 124. Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.

The government dashboard says the seven day rolling rate to November 10 is 412.9 per 100,000 ( a day’s time lag on the figures published by Kent County Council).

The latest R number (the rate an affected person will spread to others) for the healthcare region of South East is estimated at 1.2 to 1.4 with a daily infection growth rate range of +3% to +6% as of 14 November. Ideally the R rate should be at one or below to show a decrease of virus spread.

An interactive map on the government’s dashboard site which has figures for neighbourhood areas shows the most affected places are (week up to November 10) Nethercourt, Pegwell and Cliffsend with 59 cases and Newington with 56 cases.

Find the map at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/interactive-map

Thanet has two Covid walk/drive in centres at Manston and Margate.

Testing statistics for NHS laboratories (pillar 1) and commercial partners (pillar 2) up to November 12 are  recorded by Kent Public Health.

Kent Public Health data says the sensitivity of RT-PCR testing methodology is reportedly poor and has been estimated to give false-negative rates between 2% and 29% of the time. Positive tests are considered highly accurate by comparison.

Cases in schools

Covid-19 data

This month has seen positive cases confirmed at schools stretching from Ursuline in Westgate to Newland, Ramsgate Arts Primary and Chilton in Ramsgate, Upton in Broadstairs, St Gregory’s in Margate and King Ethelbert in Birchington.

There have also been cases at Sandwich Tech, Dane Court, St Saviours, Northdown, Birchington, St George’s and Newington.

Since schools fully reopened in September there have been cases at almost all sites in Thanet including Chatham & Clarendon, Northdown, Hartsdown, Newington, Royal Harbour Academy, Minster primary, Bromstone, Dame Janet Primary in Ramsgate, Garlinge primary, St Anthony’s School, Ellington infants,  Dane Court, Cliftonville primary, St George’s CofE and St Ethelbert’s primary.

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