Chesterfield schools prepared to revert to online learning in January after Omicron surge

A number of schools in Chesterfield are prepared to revert to online learning if they have to in January as cases of the Omicron Covid variant surge.

Friday, 17th December 2021, 4:31 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 4:33 pm

Outwood Academy Newbold and Outwood Academy Hasland Hall have “robust and advanced plans” in place should schools close and online learning resume in the New Year, according to lead principal Steve Roberts.

Both secondary schools are managed by the Outwood Grange Academies Trust which is part of the EdTech Demonstrator programme – a Department for Education scheme set up to improve the quality of digital learning in schools and colleges across the UK.

Mr Roberts said this, coupled with the challenges of Covid-19, has ensured that both schools have a quality remote learning package to offer students if necessary.

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Students at Outwood Academy Hasland Hall where "robust" plans are in place should online learning resume in the New Year

He said: “We appreciate that the uncertainties we face during this challenging time are concerning for our students and parents.

"Our hope, and current expectation, is that our students will return to the classroom after the Christmas break, however we want to reassure all parents that should this not be the case we are more than prepared to support our students fully with their education.

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"We are fortunate that Outwood Academy Newbold and Outwood Academy Hasland Hall are part of the Outwood Family because Outwood is an EdTech Demonstrator.

"Due to this expertise that we have within the Trust, we have robust and advanced plans to deliver the curriculum, should it be necessary, either through "live" online teaching and "recorded" online teaching that can be accessed at any time.

"Our priority will always be to minimise any disruption and remain fully open as much as possible but should we have to partially close or even fully close we will continue to deliver the curriculum the best we can using our high-level resources.

"Given the challenges we have faced over the last two years, we are constantly planning for certain scenarios and we have invested in our remote learning offering so we are well-placed should children need to access it for any reason."

In England, the latest data shows 236,000 pupils were out of school for Covid-related reasons on Thursday, December 9 – an increase of 13 per cent on data taken two weeks earlier.

According to the BBC, more than 30 local authorities have schools that have already moved some lessons online.

It is reported that some schools are also asking pupils to take laptops home before Christmas in preparation of any school closures.

The Government says it is committed to ensuring that schools in England stay open in January and is advising they reopen next term under current guidance.

Should the national guidance change, Derbyshire County Council (DCC) said it is prepared to support schools within the area and assess what measures are needed.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “At the moment there is no national guidance asking schools to move to online learning. Should this situation change then our schools will do all they can to move to online learning when they return in January.”

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