Covid-19 measures return in some Hertfordshire schools, as dozens of outbreaks recorded

When schools reopened in September the measures were no longer routinely required

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 8:23 am
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 8:24 am

A number of Hertfordshire schools have brought in measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 – with more than 100 outbreaks reported in educational settings across the county.

Last year staggered starts, keeping children in ‘bubbles’, social-distancing and the wearing of face masks – as well as periods of closure and home-schooling – were the norm for schools across the county.

But – in line with national changes – when schools reopened in September the measures were no longer routinely required.

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Now it has emerged that there are currently 112 Covid-19 outbreaks in educational settings across the county.

And – on the advice of public health officials – some schools in Hertfordshire have already brought back a number of measures designed to halt the spread of the virus.

Some schools are understood to have reintroduced face coverings, others have changed ‘circulation’ routes around the school and some have told children to remain at home.

Ventilation measures and CO2 monitors have been made available. And in some cases schools have been told to cancel events such as open days or sports days.

Hertfordshire’s director of public health Jim McManus says it is currently a ‘mixed picture’ across the county’s 600 schools.

While cases in some schools have not risen very quickly, he says there are some schools where numbers have risen so quickly that it has ‘surprised’ them.

And overall he says school numbers are ‘higher than I would like them to be’.

Public health officials are, he says, advising on a ‘school by school’ basis. And he says they have not advised on any ‘blanket measures’ because the nature of the spread is different in different parts of the county.

Some parents, he accepts, have suggested they should not be taking the additional measures.

But for every one of that opinion, he says he is contacted by 10 who back the approach and say they want it to be taken as seriously as possible.

And he says that if they need to do more, they will.

According to the county council there are currently 112 confirmed outbreaks in educational settings – including schools, nurseries, colleges childminders – in Hertfordshire.

An ‘outbreak’ is recorded when five children pupils, students or staff (or 10 per cent of that group) – who are likely to have mixed closely – test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period.

The most recent figures show that the rate of infection amongst 12-15 year olds in Hertfordshire is 1674 per 100,000 population. That compares to an overall case rate in Hertfordshire of around 350.