Up to ‘one in 30 schoolkids sent home’ as classrooms forced to lockdown ‘by default’ over spiralling cases

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UP TO one in thirty kids in some school chains has been sent home over coronavirus fears, it was revealed today.

One per cent of all the 24,000 schools in England were not fully open over cases of coronavirus, Department for Education stats said yesterday.

Kids have returned to schools but many are isolating after feared cases
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland suggested kids and teachers could get priority testing

And today Steve Chalke, founder of the coasts trust, said that they have had to sent home 1,200 pupils out of their total of 31,500 in just SIX days since the school doors reopened.

Many are still waiting for test results before they can return to school.

Writing for HOAR today he said that 12 teachers in Waterloo are off due to just one member of staff having symptoms.

Whole year groups are now at home and missing out on vital education.

He demanded: “It is time to carry out regular testing for Covid-19 on-site at all schools, because we can’t have pupils.”

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton piled onto the criticism of the Government’s fledgling testing regime.

He said keeping schools open could become “unsustainable” if it wasn’t fixed and the UK could end up in lockdown “by default” if schools keep closing.

Mr Barton told BBC Radio 4: “This will feel I think like lockdown by default – it will be more frustrating for parents because you can’t predict whether it is going to happen.

“And similarly from the headteacher’s point of view, if my Year 4 teacher today shows symptoms, will he or she be in school tomorrow, will they be here for the next 14 days?

“As soon as you start to get that with six, seven, eight teachers, it becomes unsustainable to be able to run things.”

Mr Barton said teachers should be given testing priority to keep schools open, adding: “Teachers need to be counted as key workers in order that you can at least keep that maths teacher in front of 30 young people if their test is negative.” 

The ASCL said it has received 264 emails on the test and trace system from schools and colleges which said they had symptomatic staff or pupils who were struggling to access tests.

And in a letter to schools minister Nick Gibb, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, Dr Patrick Roach, said as many as 600 students in a single local authority area had been forced to miss school while self-isolating.

The latest figures from the Scottish Government show more than 1,800 school staff were self-isolating, 1,132 of which were teachers.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland admitted this morning the Government was facing “real challenges” on testing, and suggested that school kids and their parents could be put at the front of the queue for priority testing, after NHS and social care workers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday a new plan to prioritise testing would be published in the coming days.

Mr Buckland said: “I think what we need to do is have a cascading system where we know where our priority should be and for me priority should be for children in school and their parents in order to ensure their lives are safe and also importantly they are not disrupted in the way we are seeing.” 

Dr Roach demanded prioritisation be brought in quickly to protect kids’ education.

He added: “In particular, areas where additional local restrictions have been introduced due to the increase in the R-number are now unable to cope with demand for tests.

“Teachers, support staff and children and young people are unable to access tests where they have Covid-19 symptoms.

“Employers are struggling to deal with the implications and consequences.”

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