Bedford Academy moves to remote learning as Covid-19 cases remain high across the borough
Surge testing has begun in Bedford
Bedford Academy has moved to remote learning following a significant number of cases of Covid 19 in Bedford and across our wider school community over the last few weeks.
The school says it has tried 'everything possible' to keep pupils in school safely - but has been unable to control the spread of the virus.
There were 34 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Bedford yesterday (May 20) according to data released by Public Health England - although this was a drop from the previous day, and numbers of Covid patients being cared for in Bedfordshire hospitals remains low.
Surge testing has begun in the borough due to the spike of Covid cases confirmed in the area linked to the more transmissible Indian variant.
Mobile testing units will be operating in the town until Friday, May 28, as the first phase of surge testing begins.
In a statement on the school's website David Morris, CEO HEART Academies Trust, explained that the school had been unable to control the spread of the virus despite measures including stringent cleaning procedures, the extended use of facemasks for students and staff, and ongoing education regarding hygiene.
And it added: "Even with significant intervention and the deployment of mobile testing units, the increased frequency of LFD and PCR testing and securing vaccinations for 30 - 39 year old staff, parents and carers, we have still seen new cases emerge, almost on a daily basis.
"We are now in a situation where we have tried everything possible to keep students in school safely without negatively impacting on their education.
"After in-depth discussions with The Dept for Education, Dept for Health and Social Care, Public Health England and Bedford Borough Council we have reached the joint decision for the school to move to remote learning for a week, starting on Monday 24th May 2021.
"The purpose of this transition, is to control the breakout we have experienced, by restricting the attendance to our school site as much as possible.
"Clearly, this is not a decision that has been taken lightly or without due consideration.
"The Senior Leadership team have worked in partnership with Public health England over the last few weeks to ensure every strategy to lower the rate of infection has been exhausted.
"As of next week, our virtual learning policy will be in full effect with students moving to fulltime online learning with all lessons scheduled on Microsoft Teams.
"HEART Academies Trust was able to procure a number of laptops during the previous lockdowns, meaning that every student who does not have access to a device will be given a laptop whilst the site is closed."
Students who have exams will still take part in these, on the school site under exam conditions.
The school will continue to offer school places to keyworker and vulnerable children.
All families eligible for free school meals will be issued with vouchers whilst the school is moved to remote learning to ensure they are able to access meals each day.