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HealthHundreds of schools are told to be 'proactive' and roll back suite...

Hundreds of schools are told to be ‘proactive’ and roll back suite of Covid curbs

Schools have been instructed by councils to bring in a suite of stricter Covid curbs in response to rising infections among pupils.

Hundreds of primaries and secondaries in Staffordshire were urged to be ‘proactive’ and not wait on official guidance from the Government.

The county’s council has encouraged bringing back face masks and year group bubbles and scrapping assemblies and staff meetings. It also recommended schools stagger starting and break times to limit mixing in corridors and the playground.

Staffordshire County Council, which covers more than 400 schools, is believed to be the first to promote reintroducing such a comprehensive set of measures.

Other local authorities have brought back light measures like mask-wearing, including Cumbria and parts of Northamptonshire.

Pupils whose family member tests positive are advised to ‘stay at home pending PCR test result’, despite the fact schools can’t legally make them isolate.

Ministers scrapped the requirement for all contacts of Covid cases to self-isolate in August. 

Schools have been instructed by councils to bring in a suite of stricter Covid curbs in response to rising infections among pupils. Pictured: Schoolchildren look on during a lesson at Willows High School last year

Schools have been instructed by councils to bring in a suite of stricter Covid curbs in response to rising infections among pupils. Pictured: Schoolchildren look on during a lesson at Willows High School last year

Schools have been instructed by councils to bring in a suite of stricter Covid curbs in response to rising infections among pupils. Pictured: Schoolchildren look on during a lesson at Willows High School last year

Hundreds of primaries and secondaries in Staffordshire were urged to be 'proactive' and roll back Covid restrictions in schools

Hundreds of primaries and secondaries in Staffordshire were urged to be 'proactive' and roll back Covid restrictions in schools

Hundreds of primaries and secondaries in Staffordshire were urged to be ‘proactive’ and roll back Covid restrictions in schools

Latest official figures show that within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, 0.5 girls aged 10 to 14 will die from the virus per 100,000. The figure for boys of the same age is 0.3 per 100,000

Latest official figures show that within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, 0.5 girls aged 10 to 14 will die from the virus per 100,000. The figure for boys of the same age is 0.3 per 100,000

Latest official figures show that within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, 0.5 girls aged 10 to 14 will die from the virus per 100,000. The figure for boys of the same age is 0.3 per 100,000

The Government, keen not to take a backward step after releasing restrictions in July, says schools can only roll back curbs if school infection levels get too high.

It’s unclear how many pupils or staff have tested positive in Staffordshire but the council claims it has the backing of cabinet ministers.

The Department for Education says schools can take action into their own hands if five pupils or staff linked to each other test positive for Covid within a 10-day period.

They have also been given the power to do it if 10 per cent of pupils or staff in a school test positive within 10 days.

Covid’s now in every classroom, figures suggest

One in 20 children in England were infected with Covid on any given day last week, official data revealed today amid fears a fourth wave may be just around the corner.

The Office for National Statistics today estimated 658,800 people in England had the virus on September 25, up 6.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure. 

Analysis showed the virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom.  

With the outbreak having exploded among pupils since they went back at the start of September, some scientists have urged secondary schools to reintroduce face masks immediately to prevent infections tricking into the rest of the population. 

Meanwhile, bosses at Staffordshire County Council today urged 500 schools to be ‘proactive’ and reimplement infection control measures that were scrapped by No10 in mid-May, including bubbles and contact-tracing. 

The ONS data, which is closely watched by ministers, barely changed in any other age groups last week, despite a flurry of other official statistics suggesting the outbreak has already started to spill over. 

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A document circulated by the council in Staffordshire says it has the backing of the local director for public health and Government ministers.  

The Tory county’s infections surged rose by more than a quarter last week, but more than 30 places had higher infection rates in the UK.

Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member, said cases were concentrated in secondary and college outbreaks. 

He added: ‘Like other parts of the country, Staffordshire has seen a significant increase in cases linked to schools. Cases of Covid-19 continue to be high in Staffordshire, largely due to outbreaks in schools and colleges among the 11-to-18 year age group.

‘In order bring down the case rates, reduce the risk to the wider community and minimise the disruption to education we are deploying a Mobile Testing Unit at Staffordshire schools to offer PCR tests to students. This will help identify more pupils who may unknowingly have the virus and in turn help prevent the spread of infection.

‘We want to keep schools open and children in school, so like other authorities we have outlined some measures schools may potentially want to consider on a case-by-case basis. This could include enhanced cleaning or trying to keep pupils in bubbles. This would be to limit contact and not for isolation purposes.

‘Our schools and children have shown tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic, and we will continue to support them to reduce cases of Covid-19.’

It comes as official statistics showed one in 20 children in England were infected with Covid on any given day last week. 

The Office for National Statistics today estimated 658,800 people in England had the virus on September 25, up 6.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure. 

Analysis showed the virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom.  

With the outbreak having exploded among pupils since they went back at the start of September, some scientists have urged secondary schools to reintroduce face masks immediately to prevent infections tricking into the rest of the population.  

Meanwhile, bosses at Staffordshire County Council today urged 500 schools to be ‘proactive’ and reimplement infection control measures that were scrapped by No10 in mid-May, including bubbles and contact-tracing. 

The ONS data, which is closely watched by ministers, barely changed in any other age groups last week, despite a flurry of other official statistics suggesting the outbreak has already started to spill over. 

One scientist behind one of the country’s largest Covid surveillance studies yesterday warned infections were now spreading up the ‘generational ladder’. 

The estimated infection rates among 11 to 16-year-olds in England marks a rise from the 2.8 per cent who were thought to be infected one week earlier.

Children aged two to 10 have the next-highest infection rate, with around one in 40 (2.6 per cent) of them thought to have the virus on any given day last week, up from 2.3 per cent one week earlier.

Cases are also rising among the over-70s, with an estimated 0.5 per cent of them infected, compared to 0.4 per cent last week.

But cases are falling or flat in all other age groups.

The graphs show the Office for National Statistics estimates for the percentage of people testing positive in England for different age groups from August 15 to September 25. The virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom

The graphs show the Office for National Statistics estimates for the percentage of people testing positive in England for different age groups from August 15 to September 25. The virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom

The graphs show the Office for National Statistics estimates for the percentage of people testing positive in England for different age groups from August 15 to September 25. The virus was most prevalent among children aged 11 to 16, with 4.6 per cent of them estimated to have been infected – the equivalent of around one infected pupil in every classroom

Among 17 to 24-year-olds, 1.1 per cent are thought to have Covid, down from 1.5 per cent last week, while 0.6 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds had the virus last week, a drop from 0.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, 0.8 per cent of people aged 35 to 49 had the coronavirus and 0.7 per cent of those aged 50 to 69 – the same as the previous week.

The uptake in cases among younger groups led Staffordshire County Council to tell schools to bring back wide-ranging measures to control the outbreak in the area, which has seen infections surged by 28.8 per cent in a week.

The council said pupils should wear face coverings, while staff should stay 2m away from students. And there should not be any all-staff meetings or all-school events, such as assemblies, it advised.

It also told pupils living with someone who tests positive to stay at home until they receive a negative PCR test, despite not being able to legally enforce this measure.

Professor Christina Pagel, a mathematician at University College London, this week called for infection control measures to be brought back at a national level.

She said: ‘I think we need to put mitigations back in schools, particularly masks in secondary schools, now and roll out the vaccine a bit more rapidly.’

Professor Pagel warned the spiralling infection rates in children, risks of them suffering ‘long Covid’ and a slow vaccine roll out meant action should be taken to limit the spread of the virus.

It comes as the ONS data shows infections across the UK are a mixed picture. Cases are rising in England and Wales, where one in 85 (1.21 per cent) and one in 55 (1.76 per cent) people were estimated to have Covid last week, respectively.

Meanwhile, cases are dropping in Scotland, where one in 65 people (1.85 per cent) were infected last week, down from one in 45 (2.28 per cent) in the seven days up to September 18.

And one in 65 people in Northern Ireland (1.53 per cent) had the virus last week, a drop from one in 60 one week earlier, according to the official estimates. 

Source: Daily Mail | Health News

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