Thousand pupils isolating as 15 schools in Greater Manchester see virus cases

More than 1,000 pupils are isolating in Greater Manchester after 15 schools were notified of positive coronavirus cases linked to their classrooms.

In primary schools, the positive cases mostly resulted in children within those social bubbles being asked to isolate at home. But for some secondary schools, whole year groups had been put into bubbles, meaning as many as 200 children are now having to quarantine.

It comes as five boroughs in Greater Manchester were put on ‘red alert’ after recording the highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the height of the pandemic in April.

The Co-op Academy, in Swinton, is one of the worst affected schools after positive virus cases were discovered in both Year Seven and Year Ten. The year groups were sent home on Monday morning.

Parents have since been told that siblings can still attend the school and will only need to stay at home as well if the quarantined children begin showing symptoms.

One parent has now shared her concern over sending her daughter back into the school at all. She said: ‘What’s the rules if we just want to keep our children off for the foreseeable? This is just going to continue and they’re going to just keep getting sent home.

‘Day three and it’s happened. It’s going to be a weekly occurrence. I am not putting my child at risk, she has severe asthma. So I don’t want her going back.’

The first school to announce a positive case was Buile Hill Academy, in Salford, who told their entire Year Seven to quarantine at home until September 18.

Newall Green Primary School, in Wythenshawe, was then alerted to a positive case of the virus on Monday morning and initially told children in Year One and Year Two to self-isolate. Now only one class are quarantining.

Executive headteacher Sarah Rudd said the classrooms are now in the process of being deep cleaned before the pupils return again. The children and teachers will stay at home for the next 14 days.

Other groups isolating include Year Eight pupils at Dean Trust Wigan, Year Five Prep students from Manchester High School for Girls, one class in Yew Tree Community School, Chadderton, all of Year Six in Old Hall Drive Academy, in Gorton, and Year One in Gorse Hill Primary School, Stretford.

One parent of a primary school child told Manchester Evening News: ‘This makes me nervous, and very confused, as it clearly states that siblings of the affected class can still attend, which gives slightly mixed signals.

‘Example, if another child in my son’s Year Five class had a sibling in the affected class, my son would be mixing with a child potentially living with someone with the virus.’

Another parent stated that she would prefer for schools in high risk areas to remain closed entirely.

Jac Casson, of Greater Manchester’s national executive members for the
teachers’ union NASUWT, says pupils having to self-isolate will unfortunately be an inevitable part of schools reopening.

She said: ‘Sadly, as the infection rate appears to be growing in many areas of Greater Manchester, it is likely that this will happen in more than the handful of schools already affected only days into the new school term.

‘We know that leadership teams, teachers and other staff are working hard to provide a safe learning environment for pupils and they will, understandably, feel concerned about these confirmed cases of Covid-19 in schools across Greater Manchester and the country as a whole.

‘The NASUWT is supportive of, and committed to, the aim of pupils being in school and having the benefit of being taught by their teachers. However, it is essential that everything that needs to be done is done, to ensure the safety of staff and pupils and to protect the health of the local community.’

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