Is it necessary to send small children home from school when one in a ‘bubble’ gets Covid? And the scandal of letting parents congregate outside schools and not properly social-distancing.11 September 2020
Who says this is necessary or desirable or even sensible?
Correspondent.world has been the pioneer in reporting that primary school pupils get infected less often, have lower viral loads of Covid anyway, and almost never pass the disease on to adults.
At last the British Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has confirmed that the chances of primary school pupils having Covid severely are “vanishingly small”. So the key protection issue in schools is the need for social distancing between school staff, and between parents.
This is vital and the queues we are seeing in the streets outside schools are truly alarming. The school does not have the right to enforce social distancing outside its own property, and the police have not yet come around and threatened arrest to parents who are queuing up far too closely to one another.
So, returning to the policy that school bubbles have to be sent home an masse because even one person in the bubble has Covid: That makes no medical or social or educational sense.
There is a tendency to take far too extreme action, so penalising the vast majority of pupils who are needlessly sent home when they are at no greater risk of Covid-19 infection than if they were not going to school.
“A school in Tottenham [north London] has closed for two days after confirming two cases of coronavirus,” reads a recent article in mylondon.news, “after two positive cases at Duke’s Aldridge Academy are in Year 7 and Year 8.” It says that “all pupils in those years have been sent home ‘until further notice’.”
It continues: “The whole academy has been shut for two days – Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11 – as a precaution while a deep clean is carried out.”
It adds: “There are a number of other schools across the capital that have reported cases of coronavirus, but no others have taken the decision to close.”
Equally foolish has been the reporting in British newspapers of events in the United States school system. The Evening Standard declares: ““At least six teachers have died from coronavirus complications in the United States after schools started to reopen in August, according to reports.”
In actual fact, at least three of the six staff members had not been at school with any pupils before they contracted the fatal illness. And all three of the staff members where there were tweets with their photos, sent as tributes after their deaths, were shown as heavily overweight – a clear well-known risk factor in Covid-19 infections becoming fatal.
The article does point out that the total number of deaths from Covid-19 in the USA exceeds 190 thousand. So it is hardly surprising that in a very extensive labour force of teachers, auxiliary staff, cleaners etc, six would have died within a one-week period. One can validly conjecture that this is average and that having been involved with schools made little or no difference.
[The United States has recorded almost 6.4 million cases of coronavirus, while 191,791 people have died after contracting the disease.]
Then there is a failure in reporting when it comes to children and to schools. For one thing, most reports do not distinguish between elementary schools and secondary schools.
Again, as correspondent.world has regularly reported, the evidence is that there is little or no transmission of the disease from primary school children to adults. The evidence of this in schools where the children are teenagers is less clear.
One can assume that 11-19 year olds catch Covid-19 at a rate that gets closer and closer to the adult rate, even though the symptoms are on average milder. One can therefore also assume that teenagers can and do pass the virus to adults, though again there is little concrete evidence that this is actually happening.
Already parents and newspapers are starting to see the damage this rush-to-send-pupils-home can cause.
Here’s what the Manchester Evening News has written:
“Parents say rules over self-isolation and protective ‘bubbles’ have left them frustrated and confused amid Covid outbreaks at schools across Greater Manchester.
“Barely a week after schools started back for the new academic year and thousands of pupils have already been sent home after positive cases.
And while in some schools, like Green End Primary in Burnage, a positive case has affected just one class of around 30 children, in others, hundreds have been sent home to self-isolate.
“The government guidance is to keep bubbles as small as possible – ‘if that can be achieved’ – to limit the impact of a positive case on the school community.
“But it admits that in secondary schools, particularly in the older years, groups are ‘likely to need to be the size of a year group to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and students to receive specialist teaching’.
“Despite the obvious preference for smaller bubbles, schools have been facing their own challenges trying to make things work with the space and staff available.
“Earlier this week we reported how six classes from the Year 3 and 4 bubble at Wilbraham Primary School in Fallowfield were sent home after a pupil and parent tested positive.
“Headteacher Steve Wheeldon said that in his school, like many other primaries, it would be ‘logistically and physically impossible’ to separate the children into more bubbles.
“And at some high schools, including Buile Hill Academy in Salford and St Gabriel’s RC High School in Bury, one positive test has meant entire year groups are now off.© Getty Images Parents – many of whom are worried over school closures impacting on their jobs – say some of the policies ‘simply make no sense’
“A parent of a pupil at the latter told us: “I’m concerned about hundreds of children missing out on classroom teaching, especially because this has happened because of just one child.
“”Say those children go back to school and then another pupil out of that year group has a positive test, then that would be all those children sent home again.
“”I know the school’s hands are probably tied in what they can and can’t do, but I feel like it’s only going to be a matter of time before other year groups have the same happen to them, and I do worry about the impact on them mentally, as well as the interruption to their learning.”
“As well as concerns over bubble sizes, parents – many of whom are worried over school closures impacting on their jobs – say some of the other policies ‘simply make no sense’.
They’ve questioned why the siblings of children sent home can still attend, and say it’s ‘bizarre’ that teachers can carry on teaching, even if a kid from another of their classes is sent home.”© Manchester Evening News. Mum Kirstie Bailey with partner Jonathan Carter and children Jacob, Freya and Albie
Kirstie Bailey’s children, Jacob Carter, six, and Freya Carter, four, go to Adswood Primary School in Stockport where both Year 1 classes, both Year 2 classes and one class from Year 5/6 have been sent home.
The 32-year-old, also mum to one-year-old Albie, said: “My children are in different bubbles so my son in Year 2 has to stay home and isolate but my daughter in Reception can still attend school.
“The struggle is how to get my child to and from school when I can’t take my six-year-old with me because he has to isolate.”© Manchester Evening News Freya and Jacob ready for their first day back at school. Jacob has already been sent home
A parent with children at Meanwood Primary School in Rochdale, where Year 2 and 4 children are having to isolate, says she wouldn’t want to be responsible for others catching the virus from siblings.
She said: “I have three children in primary school and two in high school. I have today had to collect two of them from primary due to Covid and advised they cannot return for two weeks and must isolate even with no symptoms. They’ve not had close contact with the positive child, they’re just in the same year group.
“I explained I would need the others to be isolated, as otherwise I would be having to take the two who are isolating to collect the others. But I was told if I take the others out I will be fined as it will be unauthorised absence.
“Where is the common sense in that? If we send the other children to school when we are isolating some that may end up being positive later. Surely we are then responsible for passing the virus to the next school and so on. We will never be rid and our family suffers longer.”
© Google Maps Wilbraham Primary School, Fallowfield
Mum Leah, whose children go to Wilbraham Primary, fears it’s schools like theirs, in inner city areas, that will suffer most from having such ‘stringent school bubble closure rules’.
She told the Manchester Evening News: “These rules will massively, disproportionately and negatively impact children in the city, in particular children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“We live in Moss Side. Of course bubbles are bigger in Moss Side than other places. People’s jobs are also more exposed, it’s less likely we can do them from home.
“Our schools are simply more likely to close than a small village school, or even a larger school somewhere like Didsbury.
“We love our school. It is big and busy, it is warm and loving, it is a place of joy and learning. Three days in and one child is off. How long before our other two children are off for two weeks – one in a high school bubble of 240, the other in a nursery/reception bubble of 180?
“How long before they are all off for another two weeks? How are we meant to keep our jobs through months of uncertainty? How will our kids learn, grow, develop and thrive? The government needs a better plan.”
Although children from bubbles are being sent home after positive cases, it’s not always the case for teachers.
The parent of a child at Buile Hill Academy in Salford said she was shocked to find out that teachers from Year 7 were not asked to isolate along with the year group after a positive case at the school.
She said: “They could be sat in the staff room spreading the infection and also teaching other year groups spreading it. I have a six-year-old with chronic lung disease and hearing of all these cases in school, I want to keep my other son at home but feel like I’ll be fined for keeping my son safe.”
Bosses at Buile Hill say they have followed all the necessary guidelines from Salford’s public health team, adding that the health and safety of pupils and staff ‘continues to be our top priority’.© Google Maps Buile Hill Academy
David Clayton, CEO of Consilium Academies, the Multi-Academy Trust with Buile Hill Academy is part of, said: “Thanks to the support and advice we put in place ahead of the children returning to school, it means the right procedure was conducted swiftly and it has not impacted the school as a whole. We’re proud of how quickly Buile Hill Academy has responded to this and followed guidelines from the local authority.
“The staff at the school are continuing to come in – this is due to the fact that the right procedures and systems were in place right from the start to maintain social distancing guidelines. Teaching staff have remained at a two-metre distance from students during lessons, breaks, lunch, and movements around the school building and ventilation around the school and in classrooms has been in line with government guidance.
“This means none of the staff are having to isolate, this decision has been made in line with guidance from the Local Health Protection Team who establishes who meets the criteria of a close contact and whether it is necessary for an individual to self-isolate for 14 days.”
The guidance schools are following has been set out by the Department for Education. Once a case is confirmed then Public Health England supports the schools and local authorities in working through the guidance and offering advice where needed, including deciding who needs to self-isolate.
Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at Public Health England, said: ” Our research has shown that the number of outbreaks in schools tends to reflect the rate of infection in the wider community. The more cases there are in an area, the more likely it is we will see cases in schools as well.
“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community will help prevent cases in schools. That means it is more important than ever that people continue to follow the government’s advice on social distancing, hand hygiene and other infection control measures.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The very small number of schools that are asking some or all of their pupils to remain at home are following our clear published process following a positive case being confirmed in a school.
“If a positive case is confirmed, swift action will be taken to ask those who have been in close contact with them to self-isolate, and Public Health England’s local health protections teams are standing ready to support and advise schools in this situation. Children who are self-isolating will continue to receive remote education from home.
“We will continue to work with schools to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to keep pupils and staff safe.”
Responding to the concerns that disadvantaged children will suffer most from the closure of bubbles, the spokesperson stressed that despite there being ‘more children in our education system than ever before’ – an increase of almost 800,000 since 2010 – average secondary class sizes remain low, at 22 pupils, while the average primary class has remained stable at 27 pupils.
He said: “Getting all children back into their classrooms full-time is a national priority, because it is the best place for their education, development and wellbeing. We have seen children across the country returning to school over the past week, which is testament to the efforts of school staff who have put in place a range of protective measures to prepare to welcome back all pupils.”
HOWEVER IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE, SAYS AN ISRAELI REPORT, THAT CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO BE “SUPERSPREADERS”.
Children could be superspreaders, Israeli report warns ahead of debate on reopening schools (October 19)
Children are infected with the coronavirus no less than adults and can be so-called superspreaders – and as the majority of them are asymptomatic, many cases are not detected quickly enough for further infection to be avoided, according to a Health Ministry report released Wednesday.
The report, which is an overview of the incidence of the virus among children since the beginning of the outbreak, noted that among cases of children whose source of infection was reported, 73.4 percent were infected by adults and 26.6 percent by other children, mostly of a similar age.
Children can also be superspreaders – people who infect at least another 10 people. Of the 350 superspreaders that have been identified through contact tracing, 17 were under the age of 17 – including seven who each infected 10 people, three who infected 12 each, and one child who infected 24 people.
The report further said that the percentage of positive tests among children since the beginning of the pandemic is higher than that among adults – eight percent among children and six percent among adults. “This proves that the incidence of disease is higher in children in comparison to adults,” the report stated. (HAARETZ newspaper)
Correspondent.World notes: However the study does not seem to differentiate between children under 11 and those who are 11 or 12 till 18. Our contention is that JUNIOR schools have been unnecessarily isolating children and causing disruption and absence and even closures.
Now, nearly a year later, see this:
From The Telegraph
Forcing children to self-isolate was ‘needless’
Oxford study suggests Covid can be controlled better by tests than quarantine
BySarah Knapton, SCIENCE EDITOR and Laura Donnelly, HEALTH EDITOR
23 July 2021
Forcing hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to self-isolate because a classmate had Covid was unnecessary as daily testing would have been as effective, an official study suggests.
The results of the study, by the University of Oxford, emerged on the last day of term for most schools, when more than one million pupils are off because of the virus and after months of disruption to education.
Since June, The Telegraph has been running a campaign calling on ministers to put children first as the country recovers from its Covid lockdowns, with action to bring an end to the chaos in schools.
The team behind the study said the results also offered reassurance for policymakers trying to end the pingdemic because they showed that the virus could be controlled in a less “destructive” way.
It came as the latest figures revealed that up to one million people a week are being asked to isolate in England and Wales, with record numbers being pinged by the NHS app.https://cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk/fbf6a9bf-b65e-4f96-85bc-6d18610edc3b.html?
The Oxford study found that 98.4 per cent of children who were sent home for 10 days never went on to develop Covid – a result set to anger parents and pupils forced to stay at home needlessly.ADVERTISING
Schools which tested pupils daily instead of requiring them to self-isolate saw four per cent fewer cases, which experts said may be because infected youngsters were more open about their contacts when the consequences were not so severe, meaning cases were identified more quickly.
Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said the study showed that “unnecessary disruption” could be avoided with daily tests.
“It is always going to be tricky to define the relative effectiveness of isolation versus testing, as there are a lot of assumptions that need to be made,” he said. “That aside, what this study shows is that daily testing rather than isolation of contacts is effective in preventing onward transmission.
“Crucially, it also highlights the unnecessary disruption that isolation rules have had on countless numbers of children. Isolation of contacts is an important weapon in infection control, but it is also crude. Rapid testing circumvents needless isolation, and it should be used more widely.”
Since May, 6.2 million people across England and Wales have been asked to isolate, according to the Adam Smith Institute.
Tim Peto, professor of medicine at Oxford and the principal investigator in the schools trial, said the findings could help end the pingdemic.
“This will give comfort to people who want to work out a better and easier way to stop transmission than pingdemics and these rather destructive ways of controlling disease,” he said. “It increases the opportunity for people to contain transmission in a much more comfortable and socially acceptable way.”
The high numbers in isolation come as Britain recorded nearly 10,000 fewer Covid cases on Thursday compared to the same day last week, new figures show, raising hopes that the epidemic may be slowing.
Although the seven-day case rate continues to rise, increasing 24 per cent overall in a week, numbers have been below 50,000 for several days.
However, Public Health England (PHE) warned that case rates were still very high among younger people, with 1,154 per 100,000 of 20 to 29-year-olds now infected – the highest infection rate for any age group since the start of the pandemic – compared to 60.6 per 100,000 for the over-80s.
The schools trial – which ran between April and June – involved more than 200 schools, around half of which continued with normal rules while the other half were allowed to test pupils instead of asking them to isolate.
Researchers found that, of the 5,763 children who would ordinarily have been asked to isolate, the trial prevented them from missing 28,000 school days.
Oxford said schools taking part in the testing arm of the study felt “bereft” when forced to revert to the old system at the end of the trial, with pupils in tears as they were handed isolation notices at the school gates.
The Government has vowed to scrap the “bubble” isolation rules in the new school year and replace them with a daily testing regime, but on Thursday it extended the funding for its virtual school until Easter in an indication that pupils may still need to learn at home.
There is growing unease about the number of people being asked to self-isolate, with shops running out of food, rubbish collections missed and businesses forced to close because of a lack of staff.