More than a Million School Children in England Alone Face Heightened Covid Restrictions

19 months on from the beginning of the pandemic and schools in England are still far from normal. Some have switched to remote learning ahead of the October half-term due to concerns about increasing ‘cases’ and now, 17 local authorities are insisting that stricter measures should be (re)introduced, affecting 1,098,349 pupils at 3,250 schools. The Telegraph has the story.

Councils across the country have reintroduced face masks, bubbles and staggered break times and stepped up self-isolation rules for youngsters. …

Headteachers have been told by ministers that many of the restrictions in place in the last academic year are no longer necessary. However, as cases rise in schools, local public health teams are increasingly encouraging schools to ramp up their measures. …

Nine Maidens Academy, in Cornwall, moved to remote learning at the start of the week, while Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth closed its doors on Thursday owing to a “rapid” rise in cases.

A dozen councils are advising secondary pupils in their area to wear masks in communal areas at school, and several have introduced more stringent self-isolation rules for children.

This week, Walsall Council advised primary schools to reintroduce bubbles and staggered lunch breaks, and moved all ‘non-essential’ events online. Windsor Council has also told schools to avoid mixing classes or year groups and to cancel assemblies.

Union leaders have repeatedly called for more restrictions in schools, with Kevin Courtney, the Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, claiming the Government’s failure to introduce stricter rules such as face masks is “irresponsible”.

The National Association of Headteachers has urged ministers to bring back rules that would see healthy children kept at home if a sibling tests positive.

But ministers have been warned that parents are “despairing” and their patience with the Government has “worn out”.

Molly Kingsley, a Co-Founder of the parent campaign group UsForThem, said: “Children have been disproportionately burdened by these pandemic restrictions for too long. Now adults are back to normal and the Government ought to be worried about the detrimental impact this is having on children. Parents are really despairing about this.”

Government guidelines say children should only self-isolate if they are showing symptoms or have a positive PCR test result. But councils including Calderdale, Cheshire East and Suffolk have brought back self-isolation rules for children if a sibling or other member of their household has tested positive.

Meanwhile, other councils say children need to self-isolate for three to five days if a family member has Covid, then take a PCR test and only return to school if it is negative. 

Worth reading in full.

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