Covid outbreaks reach record high in county schools

The county’s schools are currently facing more Covid outbreaks than at any point during the pandemic, public health officials have confirmed.

The county's schools are currently seeing a record amount of Covid outbreaks
The county's schools are currently seeing a record amount of Covid outbreaks

Teachers and schools have been facing increasing disruption due to the number of positive Covid cases in recent days.

Shropshire Council’s director of public health, Rachel Robinson said that across the authority area there are now 64 schools with outbreaks – the highest number since the start of the Covid crisis.

Despite the level of outbreaks Mrs Robinson said not all required ‘targeted intervention’ – because they do not meet the Department of Education threshold.

She did however say that a “number of recommendations that have proven in the past to minimise the spread of Covid” would be reissued this week.

It comes after Telford’s Haberdashers Abraham Darby Academy, within the Telford & Wrekin Council boundary, asked parents of all pupils in year eight to get a PCR test over the weekend.

The academy also informed parents that “all students and staff will need to wear a mask in communal areas from Monday”.

Mrs Robinson said: “There is widespread community transmission of Covid-19. This means we will see outbreaks in settings where people come together, particularly where we have high levels of testing and low levels of vaccination such as in our schools.“We are doing everything we can to support schools to control and manage the spread of the virus at this extremely busy time.“There are currently 64 schools with an outbreak – two or more cases linked by time, place or person.

“This is the highest number of outbreaks in Shropshire’s schools since the pandemic began.

“However, not all of these currently meet the threshold that the Department for Education have described as requiring targeted interventions.

“Headteachers are ultimately responsible for deciding on restrictions within their schools, but we are working with all our schools to give public health advice, as we have throughout the pandemic.

“We work with each school individually to assess the situation. This week we will be reissuing a number of recommendations that have proven in the past to minimise the spread of Covid-19. We hope this will allow children and school staff to remain in education safely.”

Telford & Wrekin Council said that 57 schools within the borough currently have positive Covid cases.

A spokesman said: “Covid-19 infection rates remain high in Telford and Wrekin, with a high number of cases in particular in the 0 to 19 age group.

“Covid rates in our schools have increased since the beginning of term, as they have nationally. Currently, 57 schools in our borough have had students who tested positive for Covid in the last 10 days – September 17 to 26.

“Using the Department for Education’s contingency framework, the health protection team has continued to work closely with schools to manage outbreaks and implement additional measures as necessary.

“Parents and carers will be informed directly by their school of any additional controls that may be introduced for a temporary period to help reduce the spread and keep education and family life going.

“Given the high number of cases locally, parents and carers are asked to book a PCR test where children are experiencing symptoms of Covid even if they are mild.

“The government also recommends that secondary school students should continue to test twice a week even if they are feeling well.”

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