New figures reveal 7,000 Leeds school pupils are isolating due to Covid as positive cases grow

An education union has expressed its concern about the "growing" number of positive cases in Leeds schools as it was revealed that more than 7,000 pupils are self-isolating.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 5:04 pm

The National Education Union (NEU) Leeds branch shared the stark figures in a members meeting on Thursday, October 15.

It reported that as of Wednesday, October 14, a total of 7,113 school pupils were self-isolating.

A total of 784 staff were also self-isolating.

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An education union has expressed its concern about the "growing" number of positive cases in Leeds schools.Stock photo PA.

It claimed that 122 'bubbles' had been collapsed and two schools had closed.

It added that nine secondary schools had 10 or more positive cases and in one instance, a school had 50.

Overall, it said that 110 schools in total had been affected - 33 secondary schools, 68 primary schools and nine special needs schools.

The number of positive Covid tests for staff was 186 and for pupils 194.

Patrick Murphy, District and Branch Secretary of NEU Leeds said that the figures were shared by the Leeds City Council Health and Safety team.

Mr Murphy said that although they want schools to remain open, members are "very worried" about the growing number of cases.

He added that shielding should be reinstated for staff who are at higher risk and called for funding to help make schools Covid-secure.

He also called on the government to let local authorities decide when schools move to higher tiers of safety.

Mr Murphy said: "Leeds NEU want as many schools as possible to be open to as many pupils as possible but that can only continue while conditions are safe for all.

"That means conditions in the communities served by schools as well as conditions in our schools themselves.

"The positive case count in Leeds is very worrying and continues to grow.

"The fact that the city is a high-risk area is obviously having an impact on schools.

"There are some measures which would immediately help mitigate the anxiety faced by many school staff and leaders.

"Shielding should be reinstated for school staff who are in a higher risk category or live with someone who is in this position and they should be asked to work from home.

"Funding should be provided to help with the extra costs required to make our schools Covid-secure.

"Finally, the government should let local authorities decide when and in what conditions schools can move to higher tiers of safety, such as rotas in secondary schools or attendance by keyworker and vulnerable children only.

"At the moment our members are being expected to risk their health and even their lives irrespective of the level of the virus or their individual condition. That cannot be right."

Leeds City Council's executive member for learning, skills, employment and equality, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, said headteachers and school staff are "working tirelessly" to ensure children and young people are safe at school.

Cllr Pryor said: “All schools in Leeds have robust health and safety procedures and detailed risk assessments in place to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

“As soon as a school is notified of a positive case, they contact either the Department of Education or Public Health England for further guidance and advice.

"Depending upon the advice they will identify and immediately disband either the ‘bubbles’ of children and/or staff affected, or identify ‘close contacts’ and advise them to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days in line with national guidance.

"They communicate all relevant information directly with parents and carers. Council officers also provide additional support to schools as needed.

“Headteachers and school staff across the city have worked tirelessly to ensure that children and young people have been able to return to school this half term.

"They have found creative new ways to educate through virtual learning when children have not been able to physically attend school and we appreciate and thank them for everything that they are doing.

"We would also like to thank parents and carers for supporting schools’ efforts to reduce infection rates by keeping their children at home when required to do so and supporting them with remote learning.”