MHS Covid update 26-1-2022

MHS Covid update 26-1-2022

Managing the covid situation in school has often meant managing the transition from one set of rules to another. Sometimes the rules stayed the same for a while and became ‘normal’, and sometimes the rules changed very rapidly.

Having brought back some old rules at the start of term to combat the potential wave of Omicron cases, the nation is of course now relaxing some of those rules again. As you know we followed government expectations and removed the need for students to wear masks in classrooms last week.

We are now in a position to make some further changes, although as you will see below one important aspect is staying in place for a short while longer.

Covid cases in school were low for the first half of this half term but the past week has seen a clear and consistent increase, and the number of staff having to isolate or needing time off for covid related reasons is also steadily rising. Therefore a sensible easing of restrictions is required. As always my priority is to keep the school running as normally as we can whilst keeping as many students in school every day, and keeping staff fit and able to work.

1) Face coverings

The Department for Education is removing the recommendation that face coverings are worn in corridors and communal areas from tomorrow morning (Thursday 27th January). However, as a school we have decided to make no further changes to our mask wearing policy until the half term break.

This means that we are still asking students and staff to wear masks in corridors and canteens unless they are exempt. I am fully aware that many schools will not be asking this, but plenty are and I believe it is a sensible, relatively simple and non-disruptive request. We have decided to keep this rule in place to enable us to make the other changes below. Parents are able to exempt their children from the need to wear masks by emailing the Head of Year or pastoral manager.

2) Movement around Bradshaw building

As of Monday 31st January there will no longer be a one way system in Bradshaw building. The staircases will continue to be one-way (one ‘up’ staircase, one ‘down’ staircase) but the corridors are two way. Any door can be used to access the building.

3) Extra-curricular will return

We paused this in January but the full list of extra-curricular activities can resume from Monday 31st January, including sporting fixtures.

4) Ventilation in classroom remains key

Windows and doors will stay open for the time being as the best way to combat the virus. However, fewer windows will be opened and so we will gradually tighten up expectations that students will not need to wear coats etc in class. They will be allowed to when it is cold…but not when it isn’t.

5) When to isolate

A reminder that anyone with the standard covid symptoms should book a PCR test and isolate until the result comes back, and anyone without symptoms who has a positive lateral flow test should isolate for at least 5 days, dependent on negative LFTs on two consecutive days from day 5 onwards.

I anticipate further changes will follow in the near future. For now, if you wish your son or daughter to have a second (or first) covid vaccination then please remember to complete the vaccination consent form on Edulink. Details were sent out last week and the process is explained here.


Joe Barker

MHS Update 21-1-2022

MHS Update 21-1-2022

We’ve had a strong start to the term with overall student attendance significantly higher than at the end of last year. At the moment at least the number of students having to isolate due to covid is relatively low, and we have not yet experienced any difficulties due to staff absence. Of course I am aware that all this may change, but so far so good. I am afraid though that out of necessity this blog is once again ‘covid-themed’.

Vaccine permission

There will soon be a second opportunity to get a covid vaccine in school for students aged 12 or above. For many this will be their second jab, but first jabs are also available at this time. As previously, covid vaccinations will only be administered to students who are 12 or above, and for whom we have permission from a parent or legal guardian, registered online via Edulink. A message about how to register or decline consent is going out today, and we ask for all responses by Friday 28th January. Parents of all students will receive the message even if their child is under 12. In this case, no response is needed. The vaccinations will take place at some point in February.

Parents and carers should check edulink for the ‘form’ to fill in and return. It is marked by a small red marker on the forms icon as shown here (depending on your device). Please make sure you are logged in as a parent, not a student, to see the form.


This week saw the end of masks in classrooms, but not yet ‘masks on the move’. With the use of face coverings in corridors, in the Autumn term MHS acted independently of the national advice and asked students to wear them at a time when doing so was not stipulated in Department of Education guidance. The indication is that as of Thursday next week mask wearing in corridors will no longer be part of official guidance, and so we will have the option this expectation. However, this is something that I plan to review myself next week based on case numbers and our situation. Every school is different and our very narrow corridors and stairs may mean that wearing masks is more important for us than in other, more modern school buildings. Either way, I’ll update staff, families and students next week.

Other measures

We beefed up covid measures at the start of term as a sensible precaution against the Omicron variant. I am hopeful that in general terms we can look to reduce some precautions in the very near future. The first change is likely to be a lifting of the current temporary ban on extra-curricular activities. We have a great range of clubs here and I know that students and staff are very keen to get back to them, and so again I hope to be able to make further announcements within a week or so.

Year 11 and exams

It’s important to realise that there is a LOT more to school life than covid. There is no better example than the fact that Year 11 are gearing up for a ‘normal’ exam season this summer. There might be a few students who are in denial, but I am very confident that exams will go ahead in one format or another and so now is the time for students to start getting serious. This week we have had the Year 11 practice modern foreign language speaking tests, and the feedback has been great from teachers. The students have approached the task very maturely and hopefully got a lot out of the process, doubly impressive when we consider that this year group have not sat formal exams of any kind since Year 8!

Best wishes

Joe Barker

MHS Covid Update

Following an announcement from the Prime Minister today, as of Thursday 20th January students will no longer need to wear a face covering in classrooms. Face coverings are still required in communal areas and so we are reverting to our position of ‘masks on the move’, unless a student is exempt. Please can families continue to support students in having masks with them, ready for use in corridors and the canteens.

At present the infection rate at MHS is under control and I look forward to a further review of other covid restrictions by the end of January. It is certainly good from an educational point of view that as of tomorrow we no longer need to ask for masks to be worn in class.

Finally, I’d like to thank students for the very mature way in which they handled the requirement to wear masks in classrooms.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Flu Vaccination Catch Up

Parents should expect to receive a text from Public Health England/ NHS on Monday 17th January 2022, to advise that they can still book their child in for a flu vaccination. This is in response to recent media activity about health impacts of flu on children. The text will direct parents to contact 119 service should they have missed the flu sessions in schools.

Intrahealth is commissioned by Public Health to deliver the school flu immunisation programme; their team has prepared external clinic catch up sessions to deliver additional flu vaccines within the LEA, outside of School hours.

Please use the email below to contact the Intrahealth flu vaccination team to book in appointments this month. (Ideally giving school name/borough and a contact number in the email)

Welcome Back!

I’m aware that I wrote a blog last week saying a similar thing, but as it’s the end of the first week of term it feels like a better time to say ‘welcome back’!

It’s been lovely to have the whole school together these last three days, following the partial opening on Monday and Tuesday. Fingers crossed this is ‘it’ now and we stay fully open, with as many students here as possible, forever.

On Monday and Tuesday we conducted over 700 lateral flow tests and we know that many, many families also chose to test their children at home too. The positive test rate in school was just 0.99%, which I’ll admit was a lower rate than I had feared. Let’s hope that this is a great sign for the weeks to come.

In school of course we have had to bring back some additional covid measures. The Bradshaw one way system, the pausing of extra-curricular activities and of course the wearing of masks in lessons. I would like to thank the entire student body for the way that they are coping with these changes, especially the mask issue. We all know that wearing masks for the best part of 5 hours a day is a struggle and I am very proud of the way that students are handling the situation. No fuss, just getting on with it. Like all the current covid measures I hope that we can pull back from them asap, hopefully by the end of this month depending on the guidance from the Department of Education.

Of course the main covid protection is to ensure good ventilation. Our beloved 1960s building doesn’t always help us out, but it does when it comes to having lots and lots of windows to open, and we are insisting of this in every classroom to keep everyone safe and in school as long as possible. Please help your son or daughter to wear appropriate clothing to keep warm whilst not breaking uniform rules. Plain T-shirts under shirts, school jumpers and normal coats are all fine, but not non-school jumpers and not hoodies.

Finally, advance warning about the next opportunity to get a covid vaccine for 12-16 year olds in school. Students will be able to get their second (or first) vaccine in February. Parental consent is essential even if we had consent last time, and we will be starting the new consent process electronically on Friday 21st January and closing it on Friday 28th January. Details to follow next week.

I hope that Year 11 parents evening went well for you all,

Best wishes

Joe Barker

MHS Start of term update

MHS Start of term update

Happy New Year to everyone, I hope you all had a good break and are ready for the term ahead.

As you can imagine school staff have been working hard to get everything as ready as we can for the new term, acting on the various changes that have occurred in the past week or so regarding covid measures. This blog is therefore quite long but, I hope, useful.

As always we are happy to answer questions from parents and carers so please contact us on or

In many ways it’s both sad and frustrating to be having to write a blog like this again. There were pockets of light last year where school felt more normal again, and so I am hopeful that we can get through the next phase quickly. Whatever happens I have absolute faith that we’ll all do our very best for our community.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

1) Lateral Flow Testing Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January

Monday 10th January: Tests will take place for students in Year 11, 10 and for one half of Year 7. These students will come into school for the test at a given time and then return home. Teachers will deliver lessons on teams to all classes, years 7-11.

Tuesday 11th January: Year 11 and 10 will be in school for face to face lessons

Years 9, 8 and the other half of 7 will come into school for their test and then return home. All classes in Years 9-7 will have live lessons on Teams for all subjects, including all of Year 7 regardless of when they have their test.

Wednesday 12th January: All students in school for face to face lessons

2) New/renewed covid precautions January 2022

National guidelines have changed with regards to covid measures in schools. The key changes as of January 2022 are as follows

  • Unless exempt, all students will have to wear face coverings in lessons. This is a national expectation and will be reviewed at the end of the month. Having a mask is an essential part of the MHS, and we advise students carry at least one spare just in case.
  • Teaching staff will once again be instructed to stay at the front of classrooms. This is not ideal, but we need to do all we can to keep staff in school.
  • We are reintroducing a one way system on the corridors in Bradshaw building only. I will explain this to students on a virtual assembly next week.
  • Windows and doors will be open in classrooms regardless of the weather. Students are advised to wear suitable clothing under their uniform if necessary, and coats can be worn when rooms are cold. Non-school jumpers and hoodies will be confiscated though so please explain this to your children.
  • All assemblies and other such events will return to being online.
  • A range of staff specific covid protections are returning, such as maximum occupancy levels for communal areas.
  • As of Tuesday 11th January anyone having a positive Lateral Flow Test does not need a follow up PCR test to confirm infection. They can instead start their isolation straight away, coming out of isolation on day 7 provided that two negative lateral flow tests are completed on day 6 and day 7 itself. The guidance on the MHS website is currently being updated to reflect the rapid changes in national policy
  • For a short time all non-essential extra-curricular activities will cease (see below)

3) Pausing of extra-curricular activities

As will be covered in the next section, perhaps the main challenge this coming term will be managing staff absence from school. Prior to the break we experienced absences of roughly 8-10% of staff on the most difficult days, and we have been advised to plan for if 20-25% of staff are not available for work. Therefore for the short term the intention is to focus on the core school business of teaching lessons and supporting exam candidates above all else. I have therefore asked staff to pause all clubs for the time being. Revision sessions, coursework session (ie GCSE Drama rehearsals), individual music lessons and small group tutoring will continue. The return of extra-curricular was one of the very best things about last term and I assure you I will bring it back as soon as possible.

4) Staff absence and remote learning

Many of your children will have experienced more ‘cover’ lessons than usual last term, mostly caused by teaching staff being off for a range of covid related reasons. Given that infection rates in the North West are now three times as high as they were when we broke up, it stands to reason that we may have some difficult days ahead. If we get to a point where we cannot safely and effectively teach all students in school then the following will happen:

a) A decision will be made to close a year group and switch them to remote learning for a set time. This may be as short as one day and is unlikely to be for more than a week at a time.

b) We plan to protect older year groups from remote learning, but if younger year groups miss too many days in school then we may have to switch Year 10 or Year 11 to remote learning for a short time.

c) When on remote learning all students will have work to do. The intention is that every lesson will be delivered online via Teams, but there may be some gaps caused by staff illness. Where this is the case work will be set on Satchel one for each lesson.

d) When a year group is on remote learning, all students identified as vulnerable or the child of Key Workers will be able to attend school and access the remote learning from school. We will be asking for information on VKW status next week just in case.

e) Switching to remote learning will only happen as a last resort and may happen at short notice. We will always aim to give parents and carers as much notice as possible.

5) Hybrid lessons

Where students are off school due to covid they will be eligible to attend live hybrid lessons as if they were in school. These hybrid lessons are a great way to engage students in their learning and make sure that they do not fall behind. Students can access these lessons without the need for an invite, they just need to access Teams and open the relevant class Team. The only reason why a hybrid lesson might not take place is if the teacher is sick or unable to run the session, which clearly may occur more often than has been the case up to now. In all such situations work will be set for the class on Satchel One. If your son or daughter does not have a laptop or suitable device, please email the relevant head of year as we might be able to help.

6) Public Examinations

We expect exams to go ahead this summer and will be working towards that end with all exam students across Years 9 to 11. Trial exams will therefore take place for Year 11 in January and February as per the calendar.

7) Vaccinations

The school will be asked to host a second round of covid vaccines fairly early on this year. As per last time, no student would be vaccinated without the permission of a parent or carer. Consent will be needed again regardless of whether it was given last time, and once again will be processed electronically. More details to follow.

Best wishes

Joe Barker

Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931