Coronavirus: Birch Wood head teacher ‘gutted’ by new school restrictions

The head teacher of Melton’s Birch Wood Area Special School says she is ‘gutted’ that she won’t see some pupils for an extended period of time following yesterday’s move by the government to close UK schools to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 10:04 am
Updated Thursday, 19th March 2020, 11:02 am
Rosalind Hopkins, head teacher at Birch Wood Area Special School EMN-200319-095638001

Rosalind Hopkins said no decision had been taken yet to close the school and staff were looking at all options for their students at a school which poses complex challenges with young people with special needs and teaching requirements which often involve small classes and one-to-one lessons.

Staff are preparing access to learning resources for those students who are already at home and making plans to stay in touch with families.

Mrs Hopkins said in a letter to parents: “The idea of not seeing them for a prolonged period of time simply gutted me.

The sign outside Birch Wood Area Special School at Melton EMN-200319-095649001

“Our staff are highly specialist, our groupings are carefully constructed, our lessons planned to be personalised and our aspirations high, always.

“These students, the most vulnerable children deserve the best.

“So I ask you all to trust that we are working together to see how we can make things work under these very difficult conditions.

“I want to protect and care for our whole community and that means it really isn’t as simple as staying open regardless.”

She added: “I do give you my word that we will consider all options to ensure we establish the best course of action to keep everyone as safe as possible.

“I will let you know as soon as we have a clear course of action regarding school closure.”

Schools in the Melton area will stay open only for children in families where a parent is a key worker.

They have also been asked by the government to continue to provide for youngsters who rely on regular school meals.

Specific jobs in this category have yet to be defined by the government but they are assumed to include members of the emergency services, NHS staff and delivery drivers.

A statement from Mowbray Education Trust, which manages John Ferneley College in Melton and Ab Kettleby, Brownlow, The Grove, Sherard and Somerby Primary Schools, states: “Following advice from the UK Government, we are closing all schools from Monday 23 until further notice.

“If you are a parent/carer who falls into the Key Worker category as identified by the government then we will still open the school for your child following Government guidance.

“If you fall into this category we will be in touch shortly asking for further information from you.

“We will issue further updates/information on the school’s website and by contacting parents and carers via School Gateway / ParentPay / Email / Facebook and Twitter.”

More to follow.