Warning that Cambridgeshire schools could return to remote learning amid rising Covid-19 cases
Children could be temporarily moved to remote learning if the number of Covid-19 cases in a school leaves insufficient staff to operate them safely.
The warning comes as cases continue to rise prompting education and health chiefs to reiterate Covid advice.
Education authority Cambridgeshire County Council has also warned that the wearing of face coverings and individual classes being ring fenced from other groups within the school in shared spaces could be reintroduced.
Headteachers will refuse access to school to protect other pupils and staff from possible infection if they consider the pupil has symptoms.
In Cambridgeshire, 31.5 per cent of recorded Covid cases for the week ending September 22 were in the 10 to 14 age group. A further 11.1 per cent were amongst those aged 15 to 19.
As a result, schools are working hard to balance safety with the need to ensure that children receive the education they deserve.
All schools continue to ensure buildings are well ventilated and have enhanced cleaning regimes in place and children are encouraged to wash their hands well and regularly.
A joint letter from director of education Jonathan Lewis and director of public health Jyoti Atri has been sent to remind parents of the role they have to play in helping to reduce the spread of the virus and ensuring classes and schools can remain open.
Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, chair of the county council’s children and young people’s committee said: “The rise in cases – particularly among school aged children – is concerning but not surprising. We have the mechanisms in place to respond effectively to an outbreak in school, but our aim at all times is to keep Cambridgeshire’s schools open and to continue normal education wherever we can. Parents have an important role to play too and we are extremely grateful for their help in minimising any disruption to our children’s education.”
Parents are being reminded that children over 12 years old should continue to complete lateral flow tests and should be encouraged to take the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered in their school, says the council.
Pupils with symptoms should not attend school, given the potential risk to others, and should get a PCR test as soon as possible.
All education establishments will have contingency arrangements in place to deal with a significant increase in cases and they will work closely with the county council to step up measures where they are needed.
This may include reintroducing temporary measures, including the wearing of face coverings.
Where there is insufficient staff to safely operate the school, children may be temporarily moved to remote learning, but only as a last resort.
Support is available for people who need it whilst self-isolating, including payments for those who will lose income and struggle financially. Parents are also able to claim financial support if they need to self-isolate as a result of a child having symptoms or testing positive.
The rules around self-isolation changed last month and it is no longer a requirement for anyone who is under 18, or has had both doses of the vaccine, to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive case. Those who have not had both doses of the vaccine still need to self-isolate. It is therefore important that everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, takes up the offer.
Advice on controlling the spread of COVID-19 remains:
- Washing your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds at a time, with children encouraged to do the same when they are at school
- Meeting those you don’t live with in well ventilated places as this makes it harder for the virus to spread