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Secondary school pupils should wear face masks when they return to school, teaching union boss says


Joint Secretary of the National Education Union Dr. Mary Bousted

High school students will still be required to wear face masks this week when they return to class this week, an education union leader said.

dr. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the National Education Union, told ministers they needed to take urgent action to avoid disrupting the new academic year.

She said: ‘It would be much better if schools hadn’t been told to drop the measures they took last school year.

“At a time when the infection level is 26 times higher than last year at this time, it makes no sense to go back to school with so few safety measures.”

Yesterday, Dr Bousted predicted that schools would be forced to adopt masks and other Covid measures ‘very soon’.

Millions of young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be back in class between now and the end of next week, raising fears of an inevitable spike in cases.

Pupils in England only have to test themselves for the virus twice a week, and all other measures, including face masks and social distancing, are being abolished.

But in Scotland, where schools returned in mid-August, students and staff are still required to wear masks and keep a meter and a half away. Despite these measures, the country has seen a record rise in Covid cases.

The chart above shows how Covid cases in Scotland have more than doubled week after week since schools returned on August 17. The country has registered a record level of infections for four of the past seven days. Experts warn England could face even worse situation when schools return

The chart above shows the Covid cases in England. It is feared that these will start to rise this week and next week after the kids are back in class

Unions have ordered ministers to return face masks to schools.  Some secondary schools and colleges in the Southwest have already reduced the measures (stock)

Unions have ordered ministers to return face masks to schools. Some secondary schools and colleges in the Southwest have already reduced the measures (stock)

dr. Bousted told the Daily mirror that English schools are heading for a disaster that would likely disrupt the new academic year.

“We’re going to see thousands of students and hundreds of teachers who have to isolate themselves,” she said. “You only have to look at Scotland to see where we are going.”

Daily Covid hospital admissions in Britain exceed 1,000 for the first time since February

More than 1,000 Covid patients were hospitalized in a single day in the UK last week for the first time since February, official data showed yesterday as the number of daily cases in the country rose again and deaths fell.

In its usual daily update, the Department of Health and Social Care revealed that 1,019 people had been admitted to the UK with the virus on 25 August.

It is the first time there have been four-digit Covid recordings since Feb. 24, when the second wave was brought under control and the jab rollout just gained momentum.

The DoH update — which often includes backlog hospital data because of the way it’s recorded — showed an additional 943 Covid admissions on Aug. 26 and 901 on Aug. 27, both week-over-week increases.

The picture was mixed as UK infections rose 4 per cent in a week to 32,181 yesterday, but UK cases fell again, this time by 10 per cent.

Infection peaks in Scotland – attributed to schools going back in mid-August – and Northern Ireland, where vaccination rates have been slightly lower than the rest of the UK, will play a role.

But there are fears England and Wales could see things pick up again when classes resume this week and next, sparking a renewed debate on child pricking.

The government’s Covid dashboard also shows that 50 deaths were recorded yesterday, a drop of more than 70 percent. The unusually low toll is believed to be caused by a withdrawal delay over the holiday weekend.

Yesterday Dr Bousted said: ‘We now have a much higher prevalence in the community than it used to be.

‘We go to schools with much higher prevalence rates where we rely on one limitation, which is lateral flow testing.

“In Scotland they have not left the security measures.

“My prediction is that we will soon see hundreds of schools across the country serving the emergency framework.”

The number of Covid cases in England fell 10 percent yesterday in a week after another 20,967 were registered, bringing the infection rate to 315 cases per 100,000 people.

The country’s outbreak has abated in the past week, but experts have always warned that the return of schools would spark an uptick.

In Scotland, the number of cases rose 40 percent yesterday in a week after a further 6,029 were registered. The country’s infection rate is currently 644 positive tests per 100,000 people.

When 8.9 million children went back in England last September, it led to a fourfold increase in the number of Covid cases in a month.

And they spread to older age groups, who are more vulnerable to the disease.

Schools in Wales and Northern Ireland are also going back this week and next, which is expected to lead to an increase in cases.

Schools in parts of Southwest will ask students to wear face masks in hallways, playgrounds and ‘common areas’ when they return.

And a Rotherham school has pledged to defy government guidelines.

Wales High School in the city of South Yorkshire will wear masks and support bells when students return to the classroom this week.

Headteacher Pepe Di’Iasio told BBC Radio 4’s Today program yesterday: ‘We keep masks in busy hallways and social areas because we think that will help keep infection rates low.

“But we are also maintaining some of the pre-Covid rules of our one-way systems and our separation of year groups that were previously known as bubbles and they will now just be kept in new groups again to try and just keep the crowds down and keep the numbers apart.’

There is no national guideline for wearing masks in schools, with all restrictions remaining in May.

The bubble-blowing system, where students ate with the same group every day to prevent the spread of the virus, was also demolished.

However, No10’s education secretary has said schools should consider keeping children in the “lunch bubbles” of this term to improve behavior.

Gavin Williamson encourages headteachers to extend Covid measures as it has benefits other than containing the virus.

But Mr Williamson said schools thought it was a great opportunity to teach “family dinners,” including table manners and social skills.

Writing for the Mail, he also urged parents to encourage their children to get tested regularly and make sure they don’t get ‘dragged away’.

During the previous academic year, schools were launched in Covid chaos, with some sending entire year groups home after just one positive test.

Official figures show that by the end of the past academic year, 750,000 children had been sent home to self-isolate, despite only 40,000 positive tests.

Lobby groups have blamed overcautious teachers and staff for sending so many children home, and welcomed the government’s decision to relax most Covid restrictions this year.

But education unions have already warned that schools will plunge back into “chaos” in the coming weeks if things pick up quickly.


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