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Dozens of Suffolk schools see Covid-19 case rates exceed 50 pupils as data suggests 7,500 pupils have tested positive since start of term



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Dozens of Suffolk schools have seen Covid-19 case rates in excess of 50 pupils, Public Health Suffolk has confirmed.

Wednesday morning’s emergency local outbreak engagement board meeting heard 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.

Public Health Suffolk data indicated around 7,500 pupils had tested positive for the virus over that time.

Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council offices. Picture: Jason Noble (52691654)
Endeavour House, Suffolk County Council offices. Picture: Jason Noble (52691654)

Stuart Keeble, Public Health Suffolk director has urged parents to ensure their children are tested before heading back 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.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL (52691662)
Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL (52691662)

“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.

“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.

That has included asking for 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.

Those measures will be reviewed in the week commencing November 15.

Parents with concerns have been urged to speak to their child’s head of year to seek reassurance over measures being taken.

It comes as the county’s public leaders have requested national support to tackle Covid outbreaks, aid surge testing and address areas of low vaccine take-up.

That request to become an Enhanced Response Area over five weeks will include a link-up with the Department for Education over measures in schools, although details are yet to be unveiled on what that will include if the bid is successful.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk