Coronavirus hits 50 Norfolk schools as teachers feel strain
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:45 10 October 2020
Almost 50 schools across Norfolk have reported a pupil or a member of staff testing positive for coronavirus, latest figures show.
Dozens of pupils have been forced to self-isolate and continue their education from home as schools face the pressure of juggling maintaining learning and being on the ‘frontline’ managing a public health crisis.
A total of 48 schools out of the county’s 422 education settings have had to take action following a confirmed positive test for Covid-19.
In seven of these 48 schools more than one individual has tested positive. However only one school is currently closed.
The Catch22 school in Great Yarmouth will remain shut until October 12 following a positive test result. It means all 13 staff and 16 of the 23 enrolled students, all year 10 and 11 students, are self-isolating.
MORE: Staff and students at Norwich school told to self-isolate after coronavirus case
City Academy Norwich is the latest school to be affected with a “very small number” of pupils who had been in close contact with the person who tested positive now remote learning from home for 14-days.
Other schools which have taken action due to coronavirus cases include Framingham Earl High School, Snettisham Primary School, Litcham School, Springwood High School in King’s Lynn, Wymondham High Academy and Arden Grove Infant School in Hellesdon.
With children attending classes with autumnal coughs and colds, many are having to get tests and can face being told to stay at home for a fortnight.
Schools are required to send home those pupils who may have had contact with classmates with symptoms. They are required to self-isolate until they can get tested, if they show symptoms.
It has added the burden on schools and colleges that have already had to implement strict measures to keep staff and students safe.
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Geoff Barton, a former Bury St Edmunds headteacher and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he was extremely concerned at the rise in the number of partially closed schools.
“This reflects the extremely difficult circumstances in which schools are operating amidst rising infection rates in the community.
“While there are some signs of improvement in accessing Covid tests and obtaining timely public health advice in the event of positive cases, we continue to receive reports from schools that problems persist, and this is not good enough.”
He added: “It is increasingly clear that schools have effectively found themselves on the frontline of managing the public health emergency, as well as delivering education, and the support simply has to be there.”
Jim Adams, chief executive of the Clarion Academy Trust, which includes Hobart High School in Loddon, and co-chair of Educate Norfolk, said: “Schools across the region are responding brilliantly to a global crisis.
“School leaders have put meticulous and robust plans in place for the full opening of their schools. The high pupil attendance rates demonstrate that school leaders have the confidence of their staff, pupils and parents.
“There are challenges, particularly around workload, funding and effective track and trace. On the whole, schools are dealing with these challenges well. How sustainable this is in the long run is a matter of some concern.”
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Dr Louise Smith, director of public health at Norfolk County Council, said all schools managing positive cases have a Norfolk County Council education adviser to help them, along with public health input.
She said: “We continue to work very closely with schools, the Department for Education and Public Health England to ensure schools have the information they need to keep their pupils and staff as safe as possible and where they do have positive cases of Covid-19 they have access to the expertise and support they need.
“Schools are working very hard and taking rapid action where necessary to isolate year groups and bubbles where appropriate, which is really working to interrupt transmission of the virus.
“The data is showing us that schools remain comparatively low-risk for the transmission of the virus and the bulk of positive cases we are seeing in the county are of working age people.”
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