Union calls for extra precautions at Leicestershire schools

As reported by BBC news, teaching union is calling for greater precautions against coronavirus, comparing the current system to “one enormous chickenpox party

Figures show 2.25% of Leicestershire’s five to 14-year-olds may have caught COVID in schools since 1 September, the second highest rate in England. Now the National Education Union has called for more masks, along with wider isolation when a case is confirmed. The county council has been approached for comment.

The figures, released last week, come from an analysis of the government’s UK Coronavirus Dashboard. At that point, they showed a total of 2,704 people in the age group had returned positive tests in September, compared to 1,741 in August. According to the analysis, an estimated 11,000 Leicestershire pupils would be infected with the virus in the following 16 days.

Simon Clarkson, NEU Leicestershire district and branch secretary, said: “At the moment working in education in Leicestershire is a bit like being in one enormous chickenpox party, but for COVID.

“If your only mitigation against COVID is ventilation and handwashing, eventually everyone in a school will catch it.

“Over 12s will be offered the chance of vaccination soon, but even then, the timings for immunity and the limited age groups covered mean that educationally the chances of a normal end to this half term and a normal run-up to Christmas look bleak for children in Leicestershire.”

The union has called for a number of extra measures including:

  • The reintroduction of masks in classrooms at Leicestershire secondary schools, and in communal areas at all the county’s schools
  • All staff and pupils to be given the option to wear a mask in school
  • If a child tests positive for COVID, any siblings who live with them to be asked to self-isolate.
  • Heads to get the ability, via test-and-trace, to ask close contacts of positive cases to self-isolate, and to be able to reintroduce bubbles where appropriate
  • Leicestershire schools to give all students a lateral flow test on site at least once a week until half term

According to the latest daily figures, three of the top ten areas of England with the highest infection rate are in Leicestershire.

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