‘Unless we do something very soon, it will escape us’ – School leaders say northern Covid chaos is ignored – .

‘Unless we do something very soon, it will escape us’ – School leaders say northern Covid chaos is ignored – .

The Covid chaos in our schools is being ignored as it is largely a Nordic problem, education officials in Greater Manchester say.
The positive cases once again have a huge impact on schools in the region, with young people being sent home to learn at a distance because their bubbles have burst.

Now school leaders say immediate action is needed to prevent large groups of children from missing out on face-to-face action.

In Oldham, one of Greater Manchester’s nine boroughs now following the same path as Bolton, where cases peaked before midterm, more than 3,000 children and 210 staff are now isolated – with 84 out of 100 schools now affected in one way or another. Less than a week ago, those numbers were 1,330 and 71, respectively – a clear indication of how quickly the problem is getting worse.

READ MORE: Latest Covid infection rates in Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs

Gerard Jones, Oldham Council’s chief executive of children and youth, said that while this is always going to be the inevitable result of more testing in schools, that doesn’t mean we should sit down and accept what is happening to thousands of young people across the Region.

Gerard Jones, Executive Director of Oldham Council for Children and Youth

“What we do is test asymptomatic children and then isolate other asymptomatic children who then return to other asymptomatic or vaccinated people in a community where hospital admission rates are now very low” , did he declare. mentionned.

“The kids have missed out on a lot of their education and if this continues with this rate of progress a lot of kids will miss the last few weeks of the summer session and this is going to have a big impact – not just in Oldham but across Greater Manchester. “

Mr Jones and Glyn Potts, principal of Newman RC College in Oldham, where a third of the students are now isolated, say the government must stop ignoring what is happening in the north and act now.

They want the Education Department to give schools more flexibility in handling cases – allowing them to opt for daily testing as a way to keep close contact on site instead of having to self-isolate.

This is something only a small number of schools have been allowed to do in a clinical trial. Its extension to all schools will depend on the results of this trial, but it will not end until the end of June.

By the time the results are analyzed and any decision made, Greater Manchester leaders fear that students here have already lost what is left of the school year.

“It feels like the disruptions facing our communities are being accepted as we have been here before and are not being replicated elsewhere in the country,” said Mr. Potts. “Again, Greater Manchester is not properly heard as other areas are largely unaffected. “

With around 500 children from six different bubbles now isolated from his school of 1,500 students, along with 14 staff, he says daily testing would have kept many of them in school.

Glyn Potts, director of Newman RC College in Oldham

“Parents are understandably furious that children are being sent home,” said Potts. “Daily testing would obviously be a challenge for us, but it would be a necessary evil if it involved keeping students and staff on site. “

Mr Jones, who says the pandemic has hit places like Oldham “for longer and more deeply than other areas”, says there appears to be “no emergency on the part of the government” despite the fact that we were “coming to the point of a crisis.”

“It looks different from Westminster, but actually in Greater Manchester and the North West the kids have lacked so much education,” he said.

“Unless we do something very soon, it will escape us and we will not have enough staff to keep schools even open.

“They need to give us local flexibility to do daily contact tests to keep children and staff in school rather than sending them home.

“It’s going to be expensive for the schools, but I’m sure our schools and colleges would help us find a way to keep the kids in school. We have to do things differently, it can’t go on like this is. “

Thousands of children isolate themselves in Greater Manchester

Not only are they worried about losing the rest of this academic year, but also that there is no firm plan for what will happen in September.

“In areas where people aren’t affected they seem to think ‘oh, it’s only this midterm, get rid of it and you’ll be fine’, but our kids have lost their education enough already and we can’t just write the next five weeks off, ”Mr. Potts said.

“Besides, what will happen in September?” Will they wear masks? Will we do tests? Will young people be vaccinated? Unless we have a proper plan – an appropriate roadmap for schools – then we’re going to face another year with more difficulty. “

Just last week we reported how the NEU said the Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, was ‘out of control’ in schools in Greater Manchester.

Peter Middleman, NEU Northwest Regional Secretary

Peter Middleman, the union’s regional secretary for the North West, described the situation – with 87 schools affected by cases – as “maddeningly reminiscent of the December-January period” when schools experienced enormous disruption before eventually close for another period of distance learning.

A government spokesperson said: “Schools across the country continue to put strong 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 where the prevalence of the delta variant is high, including increasing the availability of tests for staff, students and families and working with public health directors to reduce transmission. local.”

About 500 children from six different bubbles are now isolated from Newman RC College

He said the daily contact test is currently being tested in a small percentage of high schools and colleges.

At the end of June, “the results will be taken into account to inform any future use”.

He said guidance for schools from September will be provided “in due course” and whether or not children’s immunizations will depend on advice from the Independent Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization.

Did your school have a positive Covid test this semester? Would you prefer close contact students to be tested daily rather than sent home?

Let us know in the comments or send an email to [email protected]


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