Councils order masks in schools to stem Covid absence

Suffolk County Council has become the latest council to order masks for pupils and staff after 'surge' in positive cases among students
Catherine Lough

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Councils order masks in schools to stem Covid absence

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/councils-order-masks-schools-stem-covid-absence
Masks In Schools Could Return As Part Of Contingency Planing For Tackling Covid.

Suffolk County Council has become the latest council in England to order the wearing of masks for secondary school pupils as numbers of positive Covid cases continue to rise nationally.

The news comes following a call from headteachers this month to introduce tougher national measures to combat coronavirus, with members of the Association of School and College Leaders warning the government that it cannot "put all its eggs in one basket" when it came to pupil vaccination.

ASCL also said last week that a survey of its members had revealed that 95 per cent of headteachers reported that learning and teaching was being disrupted by Covid-related absence among pupils and teachers.


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This morning, Stuart Keeble, Suffolk County Council's director of public health, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the virus is "really working its way through that younger population at the moment".

He said: "For me now it is also about trying to keep children in school.

"We have had around 7,300 pupils test positive in the last 28 days. If we can keep transmission rates down, we can also keep more pupils in school while the vaccine is being run out for 12- to 15-year-olds."

He said there is a risk if the infection starts to spread to the older population - including parents and grandparents.

Mr Keeble added: "We have started to see that. We have started to see an increase over the last few weeks in that parent age group of those in secondary school."

He also said increases are now also seeing an increase in our over-60s and this "is a concern given, there are more vulnerable people in those age groups".

The move in Suffolk follows similar decisions by other councils in England to reintroduce varying levels of restrictions in recent weeks - from moving parent visits back online to mask-wearing - as case numbers breach thresholds set by public health officials triggering further measures to control infection rates.

Last week, Cheshire East Council wrote to parents to explain that some schools in the area would be reintroducing masks and limited mixing of year groups in assemblies and communal areas "based on the numbers of cases" as the region was experiencing "significantly higher" case rates among pupils than the national rate.

Earlier in October, the GMB, Unite, Unison, NEU and NASUWT unions wrote to education secretary Nadhim Zahawi calling for an urgent meeting to discuss bringing back stronger Covid restrictions for schools.

The latest government data shows that the number of secondary school pupils with a positive Covid test has risen to one in 12.

Mr Zahawi did not rule out a return to wearing masks in classrooms earlier this month.

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