COVID-19: Growing calls to ‘rethink’ rules that can force year-long groups to return home when a student tests positive

COVID-19: Growing calls to ‘rethink’ rules that can force year-long groups to return home when a student tests positive

There are growing calls for changes to schools’ COVID guidelines to prevent large groups of children from being sent home every time one or two students test positive.

At present, pupils in England are not to come to school if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19[feminine[feminine.

But while in secondary schools the number of quarantines is relatively low each time, for primary schools entire “bubbles” containing dozens of children are often sent home because the young people are not. able to distance themselves socially -ustrating parents who have to home school, take time to do so, or supervise their children’s education while working from home.

Face masks no longer mandatory in class, according to government guidelines

Schools are currently considered a major source of infection as immunization levels increase in the rest of the population, there are fears that a growing number of children will continue to miss out on the education they would normally have received.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Education show that as of June 17, 2.3% of all young people in public school were self-isolating due to possible contact with a case of COVID-19 in the ‘school.

This despite the fact that only around 0.1% of pupils are a confirmed case – a ratio of almost 23: 1, while the average class size in England is 26.

The proportion of students needing to self-isolate following a COVID case at school is up from 0.5% on June 10.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) is among those calling for a different approach.

Its secretary general, Geoff Barton, told Sky News: “We fully understand the frustration of parents over children being sent home to isolate themselves after so much disruption over the past year, and that frustration is shared by schools and colleges.

“Government rules require that schools and colleges trace close contacts of anyone with coronavirus and ask them to isolate themselves, which can quickly degenerate into a large number of students.

“It seems unlikely that these rules will change before the earlier end of the broader lockdown restrictions on July 19 and the summer school holidays. However, we are urging the government to rethink these rules for the start of the new school year in September and to outline its contingency plans.

“It is essential that the disruption in education that we have experienced over the past 15 months is ended. “

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warns COVID-imposed absences will see many children fall behind

King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector, who heads the ZOE Symptom Study app, is another figure calling for change and with a deep understanding of the spread and risk of COVID.

He tweeted on Saturday, responding to media coverage of the latest figures: “Now that COVID is rampant and the most sensitive people are protected – it makes no sense to continue sending masses of children home and to spoil their education when a case occurs and their risk is minimal. “

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Grand Manchester, which has seen widespread outbreaks following the increase in cases of the Delta variant, also called for action.

He believes testing close contacts of confirmed cases to narrow the circle of those sent home would be a better system, the Financial Times reported.

He told the newspaper: “The vast majority of current cases are in younger people, often without symptoms. The solution could be to test the contacts of people who test positive daily, allowing students to stay in school. “

Kate Green, Labor shadow secretary for education, told Sky News: “The Conservatives’ neglect in letting the Delta variant take hold in the UK and failing to secure schools from COVID, led nearly a quarter of a million students to miss school last week.

“Urgent action is needed to keep children safe in school now and into the fall. “

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“Good and bad news” on pandemic data

But not everyone is in favor of change.

The NAHT union, which claims to represent principals in the majority of English schools, told Sky News it would be reluctant to call for changes to the guidelines at this time.

A spokesperson said: “It would be very difficult for us as educators to advocate for different control systems as these are put in place by the government on the basis of expert scientific advice. .

“Our members are educators; they will follow the advice that is given because it is given for a good reason. While it might be tempting to say something like this (calling for a different approach), in fact we are very careful not to do it as we could be wrong quite easily. And we stick to our expertise, which is to educate students.«

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The COVID situation in Europe

When the concerns were brought to the attention of the government, a spokesperson pointed out that areas benefiting from enhanced response packets have the discretion to re-implement additional restrictions such as on-site testing if they wish – and the areas are regularly examined.

They reiterated that the health secretary had asked the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization) to provide clinical advice on immunization for 12 to 17 year olds and added that the government would put in place arrangements for protective measures, testing and isolation for the next academic year in due course.

The spokesperson added, “Schools across the country continue to put robust protective measures in place, including regular weekly testing to break chains of transmission and keep students in smaller group bubbles.

“We are also taking additional measures in areas with high virus prevalence, including increasing the availability of testing for staff, students and families and working with public health directors to reduce local transmission. ”


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