Covid-19 'outbreaks' at 198 educational settings in Hertfordshire - as more than 10,000 children test positive since start of term

In some cases schools have put additional measures in place when dealing with a local outbreak

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 2:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 2:48 pm

More than 10,000 school children in Hertfordshire have tested positive for Covid-19 since schools returned in September.

And in the last week of the autumn half-term public health officials were dealing with 'outbreaks' at 198 of the county's educational settings.

Data shows that since the start of term children aged between 10 and 14 have been the most likely to catch Covid-19 - with 7,723 testing positive between September 1 and October 20.

More than 10,000 school children in Hertfordshire have tested positive for Covid-19 since schools returned in September

But it also shows that there have been 3,236 cases amongst those aged between five and nine.

In addition, there were 3,699 cases recorded in those aged 15-19 - though this figure will also include young people who may have left school and be in employment or at university.

Many of these cases may not be connected to a child's school or college.

But in the last week of term, public health officials have confirmed they were dealing with 'outbreaks' at 198 educational settings.

An outbreak is typically where five or more 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.

Where outbreaks are identified public health officials advise schools, colleges or other settings on measures they can implement in a bid to halt any further spread.

And in some cases this has included the temporary re-introduction of measures such as the wearing of face masks, 'bubbles' or one-way systems.

In response to the current position Hertfordshire's director of public health Jim McManus points to the government's priority for schools to operate 'normally'.

And acknowledging the higher infection rates, he says they are working with educational settings to keep infections to a minimum.

“The government has made it a national priority that education and childcare settings should continue to operate as normally as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic," he said.

"National guidelines state that children under 18 are no longer required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid.

“We are aware of higher infection rates among some parts of the community, including those in the under-16 age groups.

"We are continuing to work closely with schools, to try to keep infections to a minimum, advising them of the additional measures they should take to control infection numbers, at the same time as supporting the roll-out of vaccinations amongst 12-15-year-olds.

“In some cases, this has included individual schools putting additional measures in place when dealing with a local outbreak, such as the wearing of face masks and the reintroduction of temporary bubbles, in line with Department for Education guidance.

"We continue to keep outbreaks in schools under close review and our schools’ Covid team remains available to advise every school on appropriate measures.”