Alarm bells ring over rising Covid-19 cases in Cambridgeshire schools

Jyoti Atri and Jonathan Lewis tell Cambridgeshire schools to stay cautious from July 19

Jyoti Atri and Jonathan Lewis, directors of public health and education in Cambridgeshire, have issued an urgent plea to schools as new figures show rising Covid-19 numbers. - Credit: LDRS/Archant

Health chiefs are taking urgent action to stem the rise of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire schools. 

East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Fenland all feature in the top 20 list of areas where infection rates are rising most quickly. 

All three areas show higher rates of infections than both the East of England and England averages to September 28. 

The directors of public and of education in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have recommended that secondary schools reintroduce measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.  

The advice includes increased social distancing and more mask wearing in schools. 

Jyoti Atri, director of public health: “We know that younger children are less likely to have a poor outcome after being affected by the virus. 

“But they live in families within communities where there are others who may be more clinically vulnerable.  

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“These are sensible precautionary measures that I would recommend are followed.” 

The three Cambridgeshire districts featured in the top 20 table of those with the fastest rising Covid-19 rates are from all 333 English local authority areas.  

Only Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are currently below the regional or England average.  

Peterborough also continues to have high rates. 

Data shows more than 50 per cent of recent infections in all areas of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are in the 0 -17 age group – linked to the return of students to school in early September.  

But recently a slight increase has also been seen in the older age groups as infections start to spread into families. 

As a result, recommendations have been made to the headteachers of all secondary schools across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to increase prevention measures and help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Advice to secondary school heads covers the next three weeks until half term and includes: 

Secondary schools to reintroduce face coverings in communal spaces, but not in classrooms. Primary school staff may wish to consider the same arrangements  

Social distancing for staff within school buildings, including in shared spaces such as staff rooms. It is also recommended that staff meetings are held virtually if possible 

All visitors to schools must wear face coverings in school buildings 

All non-essential events where parents visit schools are moved to virtual  

Secondary schools should promote and monitor uptake of twice weekly LFD testing and COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff and pupils.  

Primary school staff should also be doing this and staff need to be reminded of its importance. 

Jonathan Lewis, director of education, said: “Our aim at all times is to keep schools open and to continue normal education wherever we can.  

“That is why we are recommending these measures to protect more vulnerable pupils and staff from contracting the virus and also potentially taking it home to others.  

“The vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds has now begun in our schools and we have been pleased with its uptake so far as this will offer further protection.”