Teachers isolating more of a concern than pupils, head says

As reported by BBC news, staff isolating with COVID-19 was “more of a concern” than high numbers of pupils off school, a head teacher said

Northamptonshire has some of the highest case rates in England, driven by cases in the 10 to 19-year-old age group, health officials said. Many secondary schools have reintroduced masks in communal areas, and 12 to 15-year-olds have been urged to get a COVID jab.

Iain Massey, from Sponne School, said absences were “massively disruptive”. The head teacher at the school in Towcester said: “It’s really hard when we’re meant to put on as good quality remote learning as we are for the learning that takes place in school.

“How can teachers do both at the same time? That’s really hard to do.”

He said the Sponne’s pupil absence had been about 1.5%, but other secondary schools in the county had seen rates above 10%. Massey told BBC Radio Northampton: “Even more of a concern for schools is when staff catch COVID and have to isolate for 10 days.

“If staff are off and you get to a certain number it’s almost impossible to cover their lessons.”

But he added the majority of schools in Northamptonshire were “working in an almost normal way”.

Kardi Sommerfield has two daughters, aged 14 and 18, in school in Northampton. She said her eldest daughter tested positive the day after her 18th birthday and about two weeks after receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Sommerfield said her 18-year-old had no symptoms and the diagnosis was down to the regular twice-weekly testing required by secondary schools.

“It just shows the testing is really important,” she said.

She said the family were not sure where her daughter might have caught Covid-19.

“It’s difficult with teenagers, she wasn’t going out loads, so we have no idea,” she said.

Public Health Northamptonshire said it was urging young people to get the vaccination when offered, and Ms Sommerfield said her daughters were “totally open to being vaccinated”.

“There hasn’t been any negative push back,” she added.

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