Several schools across Littlehampton closed to pupils today

A number of schools across Littlehampton have not reopened to pupils today.

Monday, 4th January 2021, 11:54 am
Updated Monday, 4th January 2021, 12:19 pm
Schools news

Under the latest coronavirus guidance, schools in West Sussex are supposed to remain open.

However several schools have asked pupils not to return today.

River Beach Primary School in York Road, Littlehampton, has announced an ‘emergency closure’ today with the school closed for all pupils, according to its website.

Summerlea School in Rustington has also closed for the day.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Helen Morris said the decision had been taken because the school would not have sufficient staff to open safely.

“This is due to staff following Union advice about concerns they may have around safety, as well as a number of staff who are self-isolating, shielding or unwell,” she said.

“I know this will not be the news that many of you will want to hear and do sincerely apologise for the impact this will undoubtedly have on lots of families.

“However, safety has to be our number one priority and as Headteacher, in close consultation with the board of governors, we are not prepared to put children, parents, grandparents and staff at risk that cannot be mitigated to a safe level.

“I also apologise for the short notice.

“I am sure you will appreciate it has taken time to consult with staff and review risk assessments and the associated logistics.”

In a joint statement issued yesterday afternoon, West Sussex Labour county councillors urged the Conservative administration at West Sussex County Council to advise schools not to reopen today.

It comes after neighbouring authority Brighton and Hove City Council advised primary schools to move to remote learning for the majority of pupils until 18 January.

They said: “Schools should remain closed until a safer environment can be created and until the risks to children, families and staff can be effectively contained.

“The closure should apply to all children, apart from children of key workers and those recognised as the most vulnerable.

“A longer period of online learning working for all school and college students could help suppress virus levels and buy time for both the roll out of the vaccine and to put in place measures that can keep schools safer.

“We have many wonderful schools in West Sussex and we are very proud of the hard work their staff have put in during an extremely challenging time.

“We realise how important schools are for education, mental health, wellbeing and safeguarding.

“However the situation we face is unparalleled, the lives of children and staff and the wider community including parents, grandparents and carers remains our utmost priority.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We are working closely with all schools across West Sussex to support them with their safety measures for re-opening in line with Department for Education guidance, and to support online learning where schools are using it.

“We are aware that some West Sussex primary schools have not been able to open for face to face teaching for all pupils today as scheduled and we are working with them on opening as soon as they can with sufficient staff to ensure that pupils can be managed safely.

“We understand how concerning and frustrating this situation is for pupils, staff and families and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding.”

Most of England’s primary schools were due to open today, except for in some local authorities with high levels of coronavirus – including Hastings and Rother in Sussex.

Secondary schools are closed this week except for vulnerable and key workers’ children. Students in exam year groups will return from January 11, while all students will return on January 18.