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Dingwall Academy will see the school send almost all pupils home at lunchtime as 'a significant number of cases of Covid-19' cause a wave of staff absences


By Scott Maclennan

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Dingwall Academy head teacher Karen Cormack.
Dingwall Academy head teacher Karen Cormack.

One of the largest secondary schools in the Highlands, Dingwall Academy, is sending pupils home this lunch hour as it does not have enough staff for classes until the end of the day.

In an email sent out to parents of the more than 1000 children at the school, head teacher Karen Cormack wrote: “We have reached a point today where we do not have enough staff left to cover the full day.”

Highland Council confirmed that a significant number of cases of Covid-19 at Dingwall Academy led to a group of staff members having to self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Ms Cormack explained in her email to parents that teachers had been covering other subjects and working with additional classes but even that has left the school short but the plan is to reopen tomorrow this will be kept under review until then.

She said the majority of pupils will leave at lunchtime around 1.30pm after being offered a school meal.

But children travelling to Conon Bridge, Alness or Evanton will not be able to stay for lunch as their Stagecoach service departs earlier at 1pm while those who take the 404 service to the Ferintosh area will get their bus at the normal time

Ms Cormack added: “The plan is for the school to open tomorrow, however we will obviously keep the situation under review and let you know of any changes.”

A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a significant number of cases of Covid-19 at Dingwall Academy.

"A group of staff members were identified as close contacts and have been advised to self-isolate and book a PCR test. Therefore, the school will close at lunchtime today.

"Letters were issued to parents earlier today and all necessary action has been taken at the school. The Highland Council continues to work in partnership with NHS Highland’s Health Protection Team.”

Though she did not mention Covid-related self-isolation or infection as a reason for staff absences Highland Council is deeply concerned about its impact.

Last week, the head of education Nicky Grant confirmed that more than 1000 pupils are off school in the Highlands along with 150 staff due to a sharp rise in Covid or suspected Covid.

Prior to that the leader of the council, Margaret Davidson, issued a plea to the First Minister to take action to alleviate the pressure on the local authority.

Councillor Davidson, fearing the impact on S5 and S6, that self-assessment model be brought back so pupils are not disadvantaged by the absences and to ease the pressure on teachers conducting face to face and online classes simultaneously.

Related Story – The most 'stressful' week of the whole pandemic sees Highland Council services brought under severe pressure as more than 1000 pupils are off school self-isolating along with 150 staff due to a surge in Covid cases


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