Almost 200 Norfolk schools, colleges and nurseries hit by Covid cases
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Hundreds of pupils are learning from home as almost 200 education settings in Norfolk have been forced to take measures following positive coronavirus cases.
Norfolk County Council said there were 19 outbreaks and 178 situations at education settings, which includes all schools including independent and special schools, pre-school nurseries, childminders and colleges and universities.
Outbreaks are where there are two or more confirmed positives, a situation is where there is one positive case of Covid.
Among the latest is White Woman Lane Junior School in Norwich which has been closed to Year 4 pupils following a confirmed case.
In a letter to parents, Daniel Richmond, head of school, said: “The setting remains open and providing your child remains well they can continue to attend as normal. We will keep this under review if there are any further developments.”
Acle St Edmund Primary School has seen its first positive case with one of the school’s ‘bubbles’ now self-isolating until December 4.
Headteacher Rebecca Clarke said: “In line with test and trace procedures, all close contacts of anybody who has tested positive have been contacted and advised to isolate for 14 days.
“We would like to thank everyone for their continued support throughout this term, and to reassure them that we will continue to take all the steps necessary to reduce risk.”
Both Lakenham Primary School in Norwich and St Mary and St Peter Catholic Primary in Gorleston remain closed.
Meanwhile Catton Grove Primary School, where a positive case saw parents told to keep ‘caterpillars’ early years children at home until December 4, a further two positive cases in the same family have been announced.
Headteacher Catherine Lorne said: “One child is in Year 6 and one is in Year 1 and the family have told us they are feeling well.
“Because the family followed government guidance and self-isolated, then got the children tested and then informed the school of the results, this has meant that both children have not been at school for 11 days.
“This is why in accordance with Public Health England, no further action is needed and all children who are well can attend school as normal, except ‘caterpillars’ who are self-isolating as a bubble.”
The latest national attendance figures based on who was in school last Thursday show 22pc of secondary pupils were missing - compared with 17pc the previous week.
There was another increase in secondary schools sending home pupils - up to 73pc from 64pc the week before.
Primary schools have so far been less disrupted, with 87pc of pupils attending - but the number of schools sending home one more pupils has risen to 29pc.
The Department for Education says keeping schools open is a “priority” and has told local public health directors not to close schools or move them to part-time rotas.
In a letter, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said they expected local health officials to support the Government’s position of keeping schools fully open.
The two ministers stated: “We have taken a national decision to prioritise education during the current period of national restrictions in order to avoid any further reduction in face to face education for children and young people beyond what is necessitated when they are required to self-isolate.”
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, and a former head in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Nearly three-quarters of secondary schools and almost a third of primary schools have had to send home pupils because of the impact of coronavirus according to these latest statistics.
“The reality behind these figures is that many schools are experiencing disruption on a monumental scale and are desperately trying to cling on to the end of term.
“We support the priority of keeping schools open but the government has to give them the flexibility to operate rota systems if it would help to manage this turbulent situation.”