Public Health steps in to offer support as 30 Sunderland schools report cases of coronavirus in first two weeks of term

Schools across Wearside have been praised for keeping children and staff safe from Covid after almost 30 acted over concerns during the first fortnight of the new school year.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 7:32 pm

Leaders have sent classes, years groups and even closed entire schools down following alerts when pupils or staff have reported symptoms or received positive test results.

It comes as the number of schools in England reporting partial closures due to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases increased amid concerns about testing, according to new figures.

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Pupils social distance at a secondary school. stock file image. PA

More pupils – around one in eight – were absent from class on Thursday compared with the week before, the Department for Education (DfE) statistics suggest.

Schools are considered to be not fully open if they are unable to provide face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the whole school day and have asked a group of students to self-isolate.

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Together for Children, which works on behalf of Sunderland City Council to deliver children's services in Sunderland, said: “In terms of available support, our schools are continuing to work in partnership with Public Health and the Department of Education to manage any confirmed cases of coronavirus and locally, we’re supporting our schools on an ongoing basis to manage this unprecedented situation.”

Among those working to help schools across the city is Councillor Linda Williams, a member for Washington Central, who is also chairman of governors at Lambton Primary, a governor of Oxclose Community Academy and chairman of the trust of Oxclose Primary Academy.

She praised schools for their work to keep children safe and said guidance and measures, such as seating plans and information about what counts as contact, was helping teachers work out who was at risk, while not putting their education at stake.

Online teaching plans were also helping to keep children up to date with their studies when they were needed as a fall-back, with students also playing their part in detailing who they had spent time with outside of classes.

She said: “In terms of the support schools have been getting from local teams from Public Health, it has been fabulous.”

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