Covid: 'Significant outbreaks' at schools see 7,500 pupils get virus this term

Some students throughout the county have had to start wearing face masks at school again

More than a dozen schools have had 100 cases of Covid - Credit: PA

Dozens of Suffolk schools have seen Covid-19 case rates in excess of 50 pupils as 7,500 students have tested positive this term.

Public Health Suffolk confirmed to an emergency local outbreak engagement board meeting that more than 36 schools in the county had experienced 50 or more cases, while another 10-15 schools had more than 100 since the start of term in September.

Stuart Keeble, Public Health Suffolk director, urged parents to ensure their children are tested before returning to school next week, but said the half-term week off may not make a big difference to curbing the spread.

He said: “It’s been a very difficult first term for schools, and they have done a great job in responding to that.

“We have had over 36 schools with more than 50 cases and a good 10 or 15 with over 100 cases, so it has meant a large number of young people have missed education over the last couple of months, with about 7,500 children testing positive during that time.

“We have taken actions locally with regard to asking siblings of cases in schools that have outbreaks to stay at home for three days, get tested and then come back if they have a negative PCR.

“But it has led to significant outbreaks with some schools experiencing up to 60% of their pupils actually having Covid.

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“The half-term provides a bit of a firebreak, but we know that normally a week on its own doesn’t make a massive difference so we are waiting to see what will happen when schools return, and we are asking parents to get their children to take a lateral flow test in secondary schools and colleges before they return next Monday.”

The meeting was told that the 10-15 age group has the highest prevalence of cases currently.

Public Health Suffolk last week took action to curb the spread of infection in schools by urging leaders to reintroduce measures including asking staff and secondary pupils to wear face masks in communal areas outside the classroom unless they are exempt for medical reasons, restrictions on visitors to only essential visits, and requirements for any visitor to wear a mask on school sites.

Data last week indicated that 26,264 school days had been lost in October alone as a result of positive Covid-19 cases.

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