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COVID-19 outbreaks in Bracknell Forest schools

Female student wearing a face mask and leaning against a window

As we’re in the middle of a pandemic it is not unusual for school pupils to be asked to self-isolate as a result of being in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

This is something that is happening at schools across the country and is not unique to Bracknell Forest.

Our schools are doing an outstanding job of keeping pupils as safe as possible while maintaining high quality and effective education for pupils in the classroom and at home for those who are unable to attend school.

Unfortunately, there are times when schools will need to close either bubbles, year groups, part of the school or the whole school. This is usually due to the sheer number of staff having to self-isolate, which makes providing a safe on-site environment in line with pupil/staff ratios impossible. In this situation, schools will make online learning available supported by virtual lessons, where possible.

The safety of all pupils, staff and the school community continues to be of paramount importance and schools will take decisions based on what is the safest option for all.

We currently have larger-scale outbreaks at a small number of Bracknell Forest schools and a few schools that have a small number of cases or an isolated case.

Those with larger scale outbreaks include:

  • Garth Hill College
  • Sandhurst School
  • Warfield CE Primary School.

Small scale or singular cases have been reported at:

  • Meadowvale Primary School
  • Crowthorne CE Primary School
  • Cranbourne Primary School
  • Holly Spring Primary School
  • Harmanswater Primary School
  • Ranelagh School
  • Easthampstead Park Community School

The Brakenhale School and Sandy Lane Primary School also have a small number of cases currently, which are spread across more than one bubble.

Children who have not been advised to self-isolate should continue to attend school as long as their bubble, year group or school isn’t closed. Thanks to the hard work of staff, our schools remain a safe and pleasant learning environment for all pupils.

Schools will continue to contact parents and carers directly. Parents and carers are urged to follow the relevant advice and guidelines around self-isolation and testing.

Cllr Gareth Barnard, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning, said:

“Since the start of the pandemic, the council has worked with all our schools to make sure they are fully compliant with Public Health England and the Department for Education guidance. Thanks to the unbreakable hard work of our schools and support staff, we were able to provide a safe environment for key worker children throughout the first lockdown and over the half term holidays. Our dedicated teachers and educational staff supplemented this with home learning opportunities for all other pupils so that the education of thousands of Bracknell Forest schoolchildren was not put on hold.

“In the lead up to September, schools had the mammoth task of preparing for a full return to school, which would see all pupils back in the classroom for the first time since March, amidst a global pandemic. Through hours of preparation and reorganisation during the summer holidays, staff were able to successfully open and safely welcome back pupils in all year groups.

“Where schools have seen a positive case(s), our Outbreak Control Plan has been followed and schools have reacted quickly and calmly to make sure of the safety of all involved.

“We have an open line of communication with our schools and touch base regularly with updated information, also giving them the chance to ask for help with anything they may need.

“We know that given a recent increase in cases and as we’re now on the run up to Christmas, some parents will have concerns about continuing to send their child to school. However, I’d like to reiterate that our schools are doing absolutely everything possible to keep pupils and staff safe while providing the education that our children need to thrive and develop.

“It’s really important for children’s intellectual and social education that they continue going to school and it’s also important for their mental health and wellbeing. For those reasons, I’m urging everyone with school aged children to make sure they go to school as normal unless they have COVID-19 symptoms, live with someone who has symptoms or have been told to self-isolate or their school is temporarily closed.

“I would urge parents and carers to speak directly to their child’s school if they have ongoing concerns or enquiries so that these can be looked in to and appropriate advice and reassurance can be provided.”