Posted: Tue 24th Nov 2020

Two whole year groups forced to self-isolate at another Flintshire secondary school following positive Covid-19 cases

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 24th, 2020

Two whole year groups have been forced to self isolate following positive Covid-19 cases at a Flintshire secondary school

The council has confirmed that two year groups at Ysgol Maes Garmon are in quarantine in response to two separate positive cases.

“The school has taken all appropriate steps in line with national guidance.” A Flintshire Council spokesperson has said.

There are currently five whole year groups from Flintshire secondary schools self isolating, one at Connah’s Quay, two at Hawarden High School and two Ysgol Maes Garmon.

Pupils from Alun School in Mold who travelled on the B529K school bus last Wednesday or Thursday have been told to self isolate for 14 days after a student tested positive for Covid-19.

Flintshire Council has also confirmed to there has been a number of positive cases from one of the two year groups from Hawarden High School which are isolating.

We understand multiple positive cases have been identified in one particular class pointing to in-school transmission of the virus.

It was initially thought that most cases of Covid-19 have been generally acquired within the community and brought into schools.

A report published by the government’s Technical Advisory Group (TAC) – who provide scientific and technical advice to ministers in Wales – points to higher levels of infection and transmission rates in secondary school age groups than first thought.

Since the start of term, 10 of the 11 of secondary schools in Flintshire have reported at least one Covid-19 case, which in most cases result in whole year groups having to self isolate.

The latest data from Public Health Wales shows that in the 21 days to November 18, 40 percent of all positive Covid-19 cases in within the six local authority areas in North Wales were in Flintshire (39).

Last week, reported on how the Welsh government is looking at what further measures can be implemented in secondary schools to help control the spread of Covid-19.

TAC said that wearing face coverings for older age groups in more circumstances such as in classrooms on “a risk assessed basis, where effective social distancing cannot be maintained” should be considered.

In Wales, face coverings are recommended in secondary schools when social distancing is “unlikely to be maintained”, Welsh government stopped short of making it a mandatory requirement, meaning the final decision is taken at school or council level.

The Welsh government updated its face covering guidance in schools yesterday, pupils and staff should now wear them in all areas outside the classroom, on dedicated school and college transport for learners in year 7 and up an by visitors to all schools including parents and carers dropping off and picking up children.

TAC also advises the wearing of face covering in classrooms but the new guidance from the Welsh government hasn’t made this a recommendation as yet but has not ruled it out.

David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said: “We can see now that the virus is spreading in schools. We have more and more information all the time, and our priority must be keeping both learners and staff as safe as possible.

“Our members would be keen to see face coverings being warn in classrooms in secondary schools too.”

“We need to do everything to make sure that we stop young people catching the virus in school or college and taking it home to more vulnerable family members.”

”We think face coverings in the classroom could help protect the health and wellbeing of staff and learners alike. So, we are pleased to see the Minister has not ruled this out in future.”

Welsh government scientific advisors have also said intermittent school attendance of year groups on a week or fortnight on /off basis would help reduce contacts and therefore infection rates.

TAC also said: “Consideration should be given to exploring the feasibility of mass asymptomatic testing programmes in school and college settings to enhance infection control
and maintain confidence of students, parents and staff.”

Flintshire council has said all schools have “undertaken a detailed Covid risk assessment , which is regularly reviewed, and has put a variety of measures in place to protect learners and staff.”

“This is a key factor in maintaining very low rates of in-school transmission.”

Claire Homard, Chief Officer for Education and Youth said: “There have been a number of cases in a particular year group at Hawarden High School which would indicate an element of in-school transmission.”

“Council officers have reviewed the school’s health and safety procedures in light of this and they have been confirmed as appropriate and robust.”

“Small localised clusters in schools, workplaces, care homes and in the community within Flintshire are likely with the current incident rates so it is important that everyone remains vigilant and does not become complacent.”

“All Flintshire schools are being directed to comply with the most recent Welsh Government guidance on the use of face-coverings in secondary schools in all areas outside of the classroom and parents are asked to follow the recommendation that they wear face coverings when attending school to drop off or collect their children or for any other reason.”

“Welsh Government has not directed schools to consider intermittent attendance and so schools in Flintshire will continue to provide full time learning for all pupils, only using an online model when a cohort is directed to self-isolate.”

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