A HEADTEACHER at a Worcester school has spoken of the "anxiety" caused by managing Covid measures.

Neil Morris, headteacher at Christopher Whitehead Language College and Sixth Form, said it’s been a struggle to balance the demands of Covid planning along with the ‘day job’ of educating the pupils.

Currently, 156 pupils in year 11 are isolating after four people tested positive for coronavirus.

Forty children in year 7 had been sent home too, however they’re due to return to the classroom today (Friday).

Three members of staff have also been told to self-isolate.

Mr Morris said he was phoned at 4pm on Saturday by Public Health to confirm there was a Covid case at the school, and then he and his staff had to spend hours that night to put plans in place ready for the beginning of the week.

He said: “I try not to be too anxious about the things I can’t control.

“The biggest thing is that I can’t leave work at the back of my mind. Usually when I finish work, I can switch off, but you never know when you might get a call.

“You just have to be relentlessly positive, which is our mantra at the moment. But all the time there is this underlined anxiety that the phone will ring and your next three or four hours will be Covid related while the day job still remains.

“It’s been a constant job really, although it continues to be rewarding.”

Despite his worries, Mr Morris told the Worcester News some good has come from the pandemic, as there is now a 96 per cent attendance rate at the school and the children have shown higher levels of enthusiasm and ‘craved’ education.

He said: “It’s a very fluid situation. We think we’re doing OK, and then you get three Covid cases over the course of a weekend [like last weekend].

“Then you have to re-evaluate everything you have just done and think what we can change to make it even more safe.

“It feels counterintuitive when you send kids home. I hate it, as our job is to keep kids in school. It’s too valuable [education] for them to be going home and it increases kids’ anxiety.

“We are fortunate on our site that we’re so big and airy that kids don’t have to be on top of each other. The size of the school is an advantage. Where we’ve been strict is inside as that’s where our corridors are a bit narrow and we really do need to keep them apart from each other.

“We have 1,400 students and we’re the largest school in Worcestershire. A lot of our students who come from other parts of the country aren't living in our catchment area, and that’s [outside of Worcester] where it seems the virus is being spread.”

Mr Morris said he welcomed the children back to school, describing remote learning as ‘soulless.’ He added: “It’s been lovely seeing the pupils again. It can be soulless staring into a blank screen. All the classes are facing the front, there’s no face to face contact, which is a bit old fashioned. It’s frustrating – you lose some of the joyful conversations because it is very much teacher led from the front. Although it’s much better teaching live people rather than teaching into a computer with not much reaction or response to it.

“You can feel the anxiety level around the school, which isn’t normal for in a school.

“We are on week seven [since re-opening] and there is a vibrancy about the school that we all missed in lockdown. It was a very soulless, weird time.”

He said £45,000 had been spend at the school in Bromwich Road to prepare for the children returning.

One-way systems are in place to direct the flow of the traffic down corridors. There’s a staggered start and finish time for different groups of pupils, and extra cleaners.

As well as a face mask, pupils are asked to bring their own stationery, small bottle of hand sanitiser, a water bottle with their name on and tissues.