Pressure to close schools as teacher Covid cases rise

Public health chief in Hull calls for power to close certain schools as number of teachers with Covid or isolating rises
12th November 2020, 5:16pm

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Pressure to close schools as teacher Covid cases rise

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/pressure-close-schools-teacher-covid-cases-rise
Coronavirus: Hull Needs Powers To Close Certain Schools Amid A Rise In Covid-19 Cases, Says Public Health Official

A city’s public health director has said it needs the power to close some of its schools because its Covid-19 infection rates have become the worst in England.

Julia Weldon, Hull’s director of public health, warned the city is facing a crisis and wants to be able to close certain schools for all except vulnerable children and key worker families as Covid cases continue to rise among teachers.

She has also issued a plea for residents to follow coronavirus rules after a dramatic rise in cases and hospital admissions prompted the city’s emergency department to warn: “It’s bad this time round… really bad.”


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Speaking on BBC Radio Humberside, Ms Weldon said the city’s rolling seven-day rate of new cases on Thursday was 726 per 100,000 - the highest in England.

Coronavirus: Demand for power to close schools

Asked whether the city’s schools should close, she said: “We’ve been able to keep as many schools open as possible and everyone has done a fantastic job.

“We’re now seeing that really strained because of the number of teachers who are self-isolating or infected.

“It’s certainly not the students.

“What we need is more flexibility than the government are currently giving us in order to react to what’s happening in our schools.

“One of the things we would like to do is what would have been available to us in Tier 3, which is, where we need to, where schools are under particular pressure, to only have schools open for vulnerable children and key workers.

“Let me be clear. I want some flexibility for this community so we can do that where we need to for certain schools where there are significant pressures.”

The latest figures revealed there were 161 patients with Covid-19 in Hull’s two hospitals on Wednesday, but Ms Weldon said this figure could soon rise to 400 or even 500 “in the next couple of weeks”, given the current infection rates.

She said: “It is a really worrying picture. High stress on the hospital.

“It was a 73 per cent rise in the number of Covid patients in just a week. We are planning for that to be about 400 Covid patients, maybe 500 as a result of the infections rate.

“I can’t stress enough how serious this is. This really is a public health crisis.

“We know we’re in the middle of pandemic but for us in Hull it has become more serious.”

Ms Weldon said the city had seen 245 new cases of the virus in 24 hours and this was across all age groups.

Hull Royal Infirmary’s (HRI) emergency department issued a plea on social media for people to follow the coronavirus rules after a “huge rise” in cases.

It said: “Our department and @HullHospitals are seeing a huge rise in #COVID19 cases. We urge the public to please follow @PHE_uk guidance on #HandsFaceSpace.

“It’s bad this time round… really bad!”

Schools have not been included in the national lockdown.

In August the Department for Education announced a four tier system for managing local Covid outbreaks in the “worst case scenario.”

In tier two secondary schools would move on to a rota and in tier three schools would close to certain year groups.

The fourth tier would mean schools only remaining open to vulnerable children and those of critical workers

No school or area has yet been moved beyond tier one - which means masks being worn in communal areas of secondary schools.

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