A SECONDARY school in Washington, Tyne and Wear, has closed to some year groups because of staff shortages due to Covid self-isolation. 

Year 8 and 9 students at Oxclose Community Academy have been told to stay home until Monday, November 9, because there is not enough staff at the school. 

In a letter sent to parents, the academy's head teacher Paula Hegarty said they are "experiencing high numbers of staff isolating due to Covid-19". 

The partial closure comes as an education union calls for schools to be included in the newly announced national lockdown, expected to begin on Thursday, November 5.

As of today, November 3, the affected groups will be learning remotely from home via a mix of live lessons on Microsoft Teams and tasks - Mrs Hegarty said is engagement is "essential". 

Parents are reassured that no students need to isolate as staff self-isolation began over half term, meaning no students has been in close contact with staff. 

Mrs Hegarty also urged families who need support with remote learning, including internet and device access, or are on free school meals, to contact the school. 

Louise Colclough, whose daughter is in Year 8 at Oxclose Academy, said the school's learning system is "wishy washy" after being recently changed, and her daughter cannot access it.

The 34-year-old said: "We have had problems with the learning system and passwords today. While it normally takes days to get a response from the school, they have responded, but have not been helpful. They sent her the same password to try again but it's not working. 

"She's a bit of an over achiever and is getting stressed she can't complete her work. This is having an immense impact on her. I am lucky I have a child who will sit down and do work but other children might need extra contact with teachers, even if it's just the school being more responsive on email.

"The last minute of it all is bad. If we go into full lockdown where they do end up closing school, which I think will happen over the weekend, they must get these children set up properly. 

"Children were all in school yesterday so you would expect the school make sure they had the right tools they needed to then work from home today."

Ms Colclough also noted that home learning focuses on maths, English and science, with other subjects being side-lined. 

The move comes as the National Education Union calls for schools and colleges to be included in lockdown and for rotas to be introduced at the end of the lockdown period. 

The Union says that schools should remain open to the children of key workers and vulnerable children during such a general closure period. 

Pointing to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union said: “It is clear from ONS data that schools are an engine for virus transmission.

"It would be self-defeating for the Government to impose a national lockdown, whilst ignoring the role of schools as a major contributor to the spread of the virus. 

"Such a lockdown would impose pain on the whole community - but not be as effective as it could be if schools were included. Ignoring the role of schools and colleges in the spread of the virus is likely to lead to the need for even longer lockdowns in future."

Oxclose Community Academy has been contacted for comment.