Health and Wellbeing

Rise in COVID-19 cases among school-age population – but schools not the cause

blurred picture of children playing in the play ground

Posted on: 24 June 2021

Devon County Council and Public Health Devon are working very closely with schools across the county, following a rise in cases across all ages, but predominantly among Devon’s younger and young working age population.

The rise is reflected in the number of young people needing to self-isolate for ten days, most of them because they have been identified as contacts to people who have tested positive for coronavirus, rather than them testing positive.

Schools are therefore seeing numbers of pupils off, and are supporting them with learning from home.

Great Torrington School this week made a decision, based on the number of pupils now not attending in person, to move its learning from face-to-face in the classroom, to remote learning for all its students for the rest of the week.  Children of key workers and those considered vulnerable are continuing to attend school for lessons while they show no symptoms of having the virus.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon “It’s important to see this in context,” said Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon. “Yes, the focus now is on schools, but it’s unfair to identify them as the necessary cause of the spread.

“We monitor all positive cases of coronavirus in Devon. We know where they are, and by looking at clusters of cases how they are likely to have occurred. In most cases, the transmission has been through social contact most likely outside of a classroom environment.

“Schools have not stopped working hard to maintain the restrictions that they have had in place for many months. We, and the Education team at Devon County Council, are supporting each school whenever there are multiple cases within that age group. We know the measures that they have in place, and that they are following the current national restrictions.

“What it tells us is that behaviours outside of school – socialising, meeting up indoors, not wearing face coverings, not following the social distancing rules, all of this is putting people at much higher risk of catching and spreading the virus.

“My ask, to all young people and their parents, is to not allow yourselves to be distracted from what is still a very real pandemic. You might feel we’re over it, but we’re not, and it is down to every one of us, individually, to take control, follow the rules.

“We are likely to see case numbers continuing to rise in Devon for weeks yet to come. We can stop that, but it needs all of us to make that happen. We have not advised schools to make additional restrictions to those in place nationally, but we are monitoring the numbers and will intervene location by location, should additional restrictions be required temporarily.”

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