LEDBURY schools have spoken of “the incredible difficulty” of meeting the challenges of another sudden lockdown, brought in because of the Covid pandemic.

And businesses have expressed concern about the impact on the High Street, with one retailer saying the effects this time could be “devastating”.

Technical problems with online teaching did not make the start of the lockdown any easier at the John Masefield High School.

Andy Evans, headteacher at the Masefield said: “Unfortunately, on the first morning, Microsoft Teams was overloaded across the country with students from the John Masefield and across many other schools unable to hear the teacher, losing the connection intermittently or unable to view the presentation the teacher was showing on the screen.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Evans explained how staff were trying two systems now, epraise and Teams, to keep lessons going online.

He was also worried about the cancellation of the summer’s GCSE and A-Level examinations, calling it “an extremely difficult situation for the students involved”.

On top of this was the concern that some students may still be struggling to get access to the necessary equipment for online teaching, because of a laptop shortage.

Mr Evans said: “At the moment, and despite repeated attempts, we have not been able to order our allocation of computers from the Department of Education. The computers are primarily intended to be allocated to students who are designated as disadvantaged, and so we prioritise these students. However, if we can secure our allocation of computers, we will try to make them available to lend to other students too.”

Ledbury Primary has issued a statement, about the hard work and rush required to get the school ready for the lockdown.

It said the school had been tasked with “something incredibly difficult to put in place overnight" as England's third national lockdown began.

The relative short notice about the lockdown meant that the primary was drawing up its plans overnight, not least because, like every other school across England, it must stay open for children of key workers and for children who are vulnerable

Ledbury businesses have also been expressing concerns about the impact of the lockdown, especially as online sales may not be enough to make up for footfall

Phoebe Clive, owner of Tinsmiths said: “We have an established website which proved a lifeline through 2020 and will again be vital to the business through this new lockdown. However the website sales do not make up for the sales through the shop and our business will be significantly affected by this latest lockdown.

“I really hope that all of Ledbury’s shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants make it through to the other side of this terrible time because I firmly believe that Ledbury will continue to flourish in the future as a destination for shoppers seeking a traditional market town High Street.”

Homend trader, Annette Crowe, said the lockdown was expected but was "a terrible blow for all businesses".

She said: "I think, countrywide, this will devastate the High Streets. I hope to open as soon as possible. I think it might happen in March, at some time. At least now we all have hope, because of the vaccines."

Mrs Crowe welcomed news that retail, leisure and hospitality firms are to get up to £9,000 each from the Government, to help them cope with the lockdown, but feared it might not be enough for some businesses.

The Feather’s Hotel, in Ledbury High Street, was expecting a high number of enquiries about existing bookings, because of the lockdown and its necessary temporary closure, and it urged people to be patient.

In a specific message to Ledbury people, the spokesman for the popular pub added: “We thank you for your support during the festive season and look forward to welcoming you back when it is safe to do so."