THE headteacher of Carr Mill primary school has thanked families for their support after it took the “heartbreaking” decision to close due to staff catching coronavirus.

Carr Mill became the fifth school in St Helens to close its doors after the number of staff testing positive for Covid-19 went into double digits.

The school is expected to reopen on Monday, November 2.

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Andrew Maley, Carr Mill’s headteacher, said the decision was taken with the “best interests of the staff and pupils”.

Mr Maley said: “The safety of our pupils and staff is our number one priority and we have been working extremely closely with St Helens Borough Council’s public health team and the Department of Education (DfE) to ensure that every possible step is taken to abide by guidance we are given.

“We are heartbroken to have had to make the decision to close our school, but this has been done in the best interests of the staff and pupils.

“We know our school community will be sending their best wishes for the speedy recovery for those affected and we thank our families for their kind words and support during this challenging time.

“We look forward to opening the school gates once more after half-term and welcoming back #teamcarrmill.”

Last week, the council’s children and young people services (CYPS) scrutiny committee were briefed on the impact Covid-19 has had on schools this term.

Councillors were told that the attendance rate in St Helens this term is above the North West average.

As of last Wednesday, attendance was 85 per cent, compared to the North West average of 82 per cent.

Joanne Davies, the council’s assistant director for education and early years, said children have returned in September with an “appetite to learn and an appetite to stay in school”.

St Helens Star: Carr Mill Primary SchoolCarr Mill Primary School

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Ms Davies said: “All schools right across St Helens have worked tirelessly to keep children and young people safe in what is a very challenging and demanding situation.

“Headteachers have worked closely with myself, the council’s public health team and the Department of Education, since schools returned in September to ensure that they are taking every step possible to reduce the spread of infection and keep pupils and staff safe.

“Testament to our schools continued commitment to deliver high quality learning experiences in what are truly unprecedented circumstances, St Helens schools, despite being one of the highest regionally for experiencing the impact of the virus, have an attendance rate for children and young people above the North West average, with a rate of 85 per cent.”

Ms Davies also told councillors last week that the authority was in the process of writing to teaching staff to inform them of how Covid-19 was spreading in some schools.

The council’s assistant director for education and early years has stressed that the local authority is not trying to attribute any blame, but simply trying to keep people safe.

Ms Davies also praised teachers in St Helens for going “above and beyond” throughout the pandemic.

“We are, every day, learning more about the virus and its impact,” she said.

“Together we are learning from the experiences of those schools where there have been a higher number of positive cases amongst staff and pupils, and we are ensuring that regular and updated advice and guidance is shared with all schools.

“We understand that staff working in schools are used to caring for others every day, but sometimes they need reminding to take care of themselves too.

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“It is the council’s role to ensure that it continually reminds people of the steps that all employees need to take to help reduce the spread of this virus.

“This is not about pointing fingers or attributing blame, this is about ensuring that everyone regularly hears the key messages about staying safe.

“Our teachers are going above and beyond, every day to keep pupils safe and will continue to throughout this pandemic.”