Health and Wellbeing

Off school and self-isolating

A long school corridor, with classrooms off to the right and windows on the left Photo by kyo azuma on Unsplash

Posted on: 30 June 2021

Living with coronavirus in the community throws up many different challenges, and the solutions are often not simple ones.

The number of cases of coronavirus in Devon is rising significantly.  They more than doubled in the last week, and by far the majority of cases are among younger people – school age and into their 20s.

The good news is that the vaccinations available are proving themselves successful, and that’s reflected in the relatively low number of hospitalisations and COVID-19-related deaths among people who have been vaccinated.

But young people, as yet unvaccinated, are where the bulk of the cases are nationally and locally.

And schools are seeing this through the number of pupils unable to attend due to them self-isolating at home.

On the 25 June, 2,162 young people in Devon out of a total of 107,000 were off school, as their bubble had to self-isolate.  That’s about 2 per cent of the total number of young children registered at a Devon school.

Most of those were off school because they were identified as contacts to people who have tested positive for coronavirus.  A few however had tested positive with the virus.

Schools are having to provide a mix of face-to-face learning in the classroom – always the preferred and most beneficial way of learning for lots of reasons – with temporary remote learning for the minority who are unable to attend school.

England’s Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza is reported to have said this week that there’s an urgent need for children to get back to normal, and that grouping pupils into bubbles – often made up their year group or class, which has to quarantine when one child tests positive – should end as quickly as possible.

The Government has said it’s looking into it.

But it demonstrates the dilemma.  Coronavirus is not over, by some way.  Case numbers are rising again for a third wave over the summer, and we in Devon are likely to see case numbers rise in July and August.

At the same time, the national restrictions are due to be lifted mid-July.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon Steve Brown, the Director of Public Health Devon said: 

“Schools are continuing to do all they can to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, during the school day while young people are at school.  Outside of school, it’s up to individuals and their families to maintain that vigilance.

“Testing is one way that we can identify people who are likely to be carrying the virus, and using the appropriate test – PCR test, if you have symptoms or have been identified as a contact and told to self-isolate; and rapid lateral flow tests for regular use by people who show no symptoms of having the virus.

“Research had shown that 1 in every 3 people with the virus show no symptoms of having the virus.  But with most people now vaccinated, it’s possible that we may see a higher proportion of people with the virus who show no symptoms.  Testing is vital, for all of us, whether we have had the vaccine or not.

“Please, let’s continue to do all we can to stop cases rising.

  • Follow the restrictions that are in place – hands, face, space and fresh air
  • Self-isolate if you show symptoms and arrange a PCR test
  • Self-isolate if you’re identified as a contact and take a PCR test
  • Take regular rapid lateral flow tests, twice a week, to identify if you are likely to be carrying the virus”

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