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Flu bug strikes school

PUBLISHED: 16:07 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 23 August 2010

A SECONDARY school was partially closed this week as 20 per cent of teachers, senior and support staff are hit by an influenza bug. Headteacher Miss Sara Kemsley, of Meopham Secondary School, Wrotham Road, Meopham, informed parents of the Emergency Part

A SECONDARY school was partially closed this week as 20 per cent of teachers, senior and support staff are hit by an influenza bug.

Headteacher Miss Sara Kemsley, of Meopham Secondary School, Wrotham Road, Meopham, informed parents of the 'Emergency Partial Closure' by letter.

Year groups are taking turns to stay at home, with warnings the pattern would continue next week if the situation fails to improve.

A parents evening due to take place today (Thursday) has also been postponed and one parent warned the school is so understaffed pupils are watching movies in lessons.

In a letter to parents, Miss Kemsley wrote: "I am sure that children have already reported how hard this week has been.

"Twenty per cent of teachers and significant support and senior staff are ill. This makes it impossible to guarantee the health, safety and emotional wellbeing of the children, let alone the education.

"While we can afford to bring in even more supply teachers this makes the experience even worse.

"I also have a duty to the welfare of the staff who are currently trying to remain well and have coped with great pressures this week."

If the situation worsens the headteacher will consider other options including doubling up of classes or a full closure, as outlined in the schools emergency procedures.

Parents with children at the school in different year groups were advised to team up with friends to share the burden of childcare.

But one parent, who wished to remain anonymous, slammed the decision and the handling of the crisis saying her child had to watch the film Johnny English during an English lesson as remaining staff could not cope.

She said: "As a parent of two children at Meopham this is obviously concerning. I have an 11-year-old and 15-year-old at the school and have never heard anything like it before. There seems to have been a larger than average percentage of supply teachers at the school this term with a high turnover of staff.

"My year 7 daughter and her class watched a DVD of Johnny English during one English lesson because there was no teacher to take the lesson."

She added: "A letter went to parents last week blaming influenza. It stated that 20% of teaching and support staff were off sick and they had no alternative but to stagger days off for various year groups. It also stated that these measures had the backing of the local authority."

Miss Kemsley added: "If our situation improves year groups will be recalled to school.

"If this does not this pattern of one-day closures for these junior year groups will continue."

Year 7 and 8 students were advised to continue working on their Independent Home Learning booklets, with year 9 having access to work through websites the school use such as MyMaths and Linguascope.

TIMETABLE OF PARTIAL CLOSURE

Monday November 16 - Year 9 stay at home

Tuesday November 17 - Year 8 stay at home

Wednesday November 18 - Year 7 stay at home

Thursday November 19 - Year 9 stay at home

Year 10 parents evening postponed

Friday November 20- Year 8 - students stay at home

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