You will all be aware of the rapidly developing situation around Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Sandwell and at Forge over the last two weeks. Further to my letter last night regarding positive cases amongst staff, today we have had two more staff members test positive and two students, one in year 8 and one in year 9.
Following close consultation with Public Health England and Sandwell Council, we have been advised to close Forge with immediate effect to all students until December 2nd. This was by no means a decision that was taken lightly, and I completely appreciate the inconvenience that this will cause for many families. However, given the number of positive cases that we are experiencing, it would not have been safe or responsible to open the school to students.
As you know, we take our duty of care extremely seriously and every decision is made with the best interests of your children in mind. Since the outbreak, we have taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from impacting our school and to keep your children, as well as staff and the wider community, safe. There is no proof of transmission at Forge at the moment but we are a big school and the risk is growing; this fire break will give us the time to deep clean the entire site and, as a precautionary measure, help limit further transmission of COVID-19. We ask that you inform us immediately if your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 or receives a positive test result within the next two weeks so that we can record and assess any further transmission during this period. Please email [email protected]
Additionally, given that we are now in a national lockdown and infection rates remain high in the local community, we would once again like to reinforce how important it is that everyone abides by the Government’s guidance and takes all precautionary measures including regularly washing hands, wearing a face-covering and keeping a 2-metre social distance from those outside your household, and staying at home where possible. If a member of your household experiences symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature; a new, continuous cough and/or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), you must stay at home and arrange for a test.
If you have received a letter or had a call from us regarding your child being in close contact with a positive case, it is imperative that your child self-isolates as outlined in your personalised email from Dr Mason. All other students must abide by the national lockdown rules and restrictions.
Whilst ensuring everyone’s health and safety is our absolute priority, we are also committed to ensuring we limit any disruption to your child’s education as best we can. Students will therefore be set work to complete on Satchel One (SMHW) for the remainder of the week. From Monday, 23rd November we will be offering a schedule of live learning, more detail will follow this week.
We are not able to have students on-site at all over the next two weeks so we are unable to offer the services that we have done previously to vulnerable students and key-worker families. We will be offering a packed lunch service (collection only) for children who receive free school meals. Those in receipt of free school meals will receive further information tomorrow.
Over the period of closure, there will only be a limited number of staff in the Academy so the phones will be answered but they might not be picked up as quickly as they usually would. Alternatively use social media to contact us or email [email protected] We will respond at our earliest opportunity.
Whilst I write this letter with a heavy heart, I am hugely grateful for your patience. This is a setback but I know that we will bounce back. The courage and resilience of our community always shines through. I urge everyone to follow the Government guidance and stay safe. In the meantime, thank you again for your support and if you have any questions, concerns or would like to discuss any of the above further, please contact us. The team will be on Facebook all evening and throughout the week and we have a team of staff ready to call you if you need to speak to someone.
As I am sure you will appreciate, the current situation is rapidly ever-changing and so we will endeavour to provide a further update towards the end of the week.
Dr Lisa Mason
Ormiston Forge Academy