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Herne Bay High School head teacher thinks coronavirus cases could be weekly occurrence at secondary

A head teacher believes new coronavirus cases at his school could become a weekly occurrence – after revealing hundreds of pupils from the secondary are isolating.

Bosses from Herne Bay High have announced that teenagers in Years 9 and 13 have been sent home following positive Covid-19 tests.

Pupils in Years 9, 10 and 13 at Herne Bay High School are self-isolating
Pupils in Years 9, 10 and 13 at Herne Bay High School are self-isolating

About a third of the school’s pupils are unable to attend classes, as Year 10s have also been self-isolating since Friday, November 13.

Principal Jon Boyes expects the Bullockstone Road site, which is the only secondary in Herne Bay, to record at least one case of the deadly illness every seven days.

“We have 1,600 kids in the school, so statistically speaking we are going to be picking up one or two every week," he said.

“We are going to be dealing regularly with positive cases – as will every other school.

“We’re doing everything we can, but we can’t stop what’s going on – we’ll have to manage it.”

Herne Bay High School principal Jon Boyes
Herne Bay High School principal Jon Boyes

Mr Boyes says “it is inevitable” that more children will be forced to self-isolate in the coming weeks, unless lockdown considerably decreases the infection rate in the area.

Over the last month, youngsters from Herne Bay Juniors and Hampton Primary have also had to miss lessons.

And last week, Joy Lane Primary in Whitstable was closed until Tuesday, December 1, after staff, parents and pupils were diagnosed with the illness.

“The majority of the children are taking it in their stride and are thankful they’re being supported,” Mr Boyes added.

“This is disruptive for families – but we are delivering lessons online, so they can access all learning remotely.”

"My biggest worry is the government doesn’t make its mind up about what’s happening with exams..."

Year 13s were told today that a number of them will have to quarantine for the next 11 days, after being in close contact with a member of their cohort who contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, all 260 Year 9s were ordered on Friday not to return to the school until the end of this week.

The youngster who tested positive for the illness had not attended lessons since Thursday, November 12.

“We will continue to teach the children - but my biggest worry is the government doesn’t make its mind up about what’s happening with exams,” Mr Boyes continued.

“There’s a lack of clarity and information about what’s actually happening. Are they going to sit exams?

“What we can’t do is put our heads in the sand and have the same structure as we’ve always done but three weeks later. That’s rubbish.”

The government is due to set out its plans for A-levels and GCSEs next week.

Mr Boyes says the idea of region-specific exams was floated by the Department for Education a fortnight ago.

However, the principal thinks that would be a "disaster" and is instead advocating the use of assessments that have a wider choice of subjects for youngsters to choose from.

“At the very least, they should reformat exams so that there’s an opportunity for children to demonstrate their learning and not be tested on things they’ve missed," he explained.

"It would give children more of a chance to demonstrate what they’ve actually learned."

Children in Year 10 at Herne Bay High are set to return to lessons on Wednesday.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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