More than 4,000 pupils have to self-isolate each day on average in Oldham

Reporter: Charlotte Green (Local Democracy Reporting)
Date published: 05 November 2020

The impact of coronavirus on Oldham schools has been laid bare as leaders reveal that on any given day more than 4,000 pupils are having to self-isolate.

Schools and educational establishments are due to remain open throughout the four week lockdown in England beginning on November 5.

However at a meeting of Oldham’s full council, bosses outlined how the virus was already having a significant effect on schools in the borough.

Under government rules, ‘bubbles’ in schools have to self-isolate if there is a confirmed cases of Covid-19 among them.

This has seen whole year groups sent home, and in some cases forced entire schools to close.

Since the start of the academic year 50 schools in the borough have been affected by Covid cases.

And more than a hundred staff have had to leave work and quarantine at home.

As of Wednesday, Oldham’s infection rate for coronavirus now stands at an eye-watering 741 per 100,000 people – the highest in Greater Manchester.

Speaking at the virtual full council meeting on Wednesday night, Liberal Democrat Councillor Garth Harkness said:

“Regrettably there has been an outbreak of Covid-19 cases in clusters in certain schools in Oldham.”

He asked for an update on how many students and teachers had been affected to date, and how outbreaks were being managed ‘to ensure the safety of children and staff’.

Coun Arooj Shah, cabinet member for Covid-19 recovery responded: “School and council staff worked closely to ensure that schools could reopen as safely as possible by meeting the guidelines set down by the Department of Education.

“Attendance at the start of September was very strong with figures above the national and regional averages.

“As schools started to be notified of positive cases, pupils and staff have followed advice from Public Health to isolate and attendance has dropped below the averages.

“Most Oldham schools now have had positive cases which have resulted in bubbles of pupils and staff unfortunately isolating.

“In recent weeks an average of 4,750 pupils and 130 staff have been isolating each day.

“Council teams from public health and education are in direct communication with headteachers and continue to support them with preventative infection control and case management advice to ensure provision is safe.

“If pupils are required to isolate from school then there is an obligation for online learning to be provided.”

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