England’s schools are closing again, as the head teachers put in place their own “circuit breakers” and sent children home before Christmas to study remotely to combat Covid.

Campaigners have warned more schools could follow suit this winter and shut down after St Mary’s Church of England Primary in Hereford and Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio in Lancashire announced they were closing for at least a week amid a surge in cases.

Arabella Skinner of parent group UsForThem, which fought to get children back into classrooms after they were ordered to shut in March last year, told The Telegraph: ‘As the experience of last year shows, these isolated cases of school closures don’t stay isolated for long. 

“The concern is that this will be repeated in the lead up to Christmas. How long will we continue to expect our children to be second-class citizens?

Yesterday, St Mary’s Church of England Primary, Credenhill, was closed for one week despite having implemented a deep-cleaning regime, more handwashing, sanitising and compulsory PPE. Separate year groups were also created and lunches are staggered.  

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Head teacher Bernadette Davies wrote to families to explain that ‘the purpose of this break is to act as a ”circuit breaker” and cease the transmission of Covid-19 throughout the school’.   

Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, which is secondary school for pupils 13-19 years of age, has told parents that children can learn remotely from Thursday to Friday ‘in view of the numerous cases and advice’. 

After five Covid cases had been identified, a primary school in Essex advised parents that their children be tested. Essex County Council wrote to the families advising that pupils stay at home in the event of a positive PCR or the development of Covid symptoms.  

According to the Department for Education, schools can impose “short-term attendance restraints” in extreme cases and when other risk mitigations are not effective. 

Many restrictions, including isolation periods and bubbles were removed when schools returned to September. Secondary students and staff were informed that they were no longer required to use facemasks. 

Remote education may mean parents will need to be able to work at home to take care of their children. Parents who are unable to WFH may have to either take time off, whether unpaid or annual leave.

There are also fears that the return of remote learning during Christmas may signal tighter restrictions on schools and indefinite closings. 

UsForThem said that remote learning was a ‘failed experiment’ and ‘not one that we should be repeating in the context of a nearly fully vaccinated adult population’. 

Christopher McGovern, Campaign for Real Education said to MailOnline that schools should be kept open in the best interests of both parents and children. Some union bosses and heads of teachers want to make the government close schools. This is sad. Children of the poor are most affected. 

Other Covid developments

  • The WHO warned 700,000 Europeans could die this winter from Covid – meaning that  Europe is facing a winter only slightly better than last year, despite vaccines now being widely available;
  • Under radical plans to reduce the huge NHS wait list, Sajid Javid, Health Secretary is going to end follow-up appointments. He will instead move patients around the country.
  • AstraZeneca’s boss suggested that Europe could be experiencing a fourth wave in Covid hospital admissions due to the delay in distributing the jab to seniors.  
  • The last 24 hours saw 42,484 Covid cases, which is 14.1 percentage more than last Tuesday. Hospitalisations dropped by 12.9 Percent week-on–week. On Thursday, 826 infected Britons sought NHS care.
  • The daily death rate fell by 22.9 Percent on last week. There were 165 deaths within 28 days from the test positive.
St Mary's Church of England Primary in Credenhill, Hereford shut for a week yesterday despite implementing a deep cleaning regime, increased handwashing and sanitising, compulsory PPE, separated year groups and staggered playtimes and lunches

Yesterday, St Mary’s Church of England Primary, Credenhill, Hereford, was closed for one week despite having implemented a deep clean regime, more handwashing, sanitising and compulsory PPE. Separate year groups were also established and there are staggered lunches and playtimes. 

Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio, a secondary school in Lancashire which teaches pupils aged 13 to 19, has also told families that their children will be learning remotely until at least next Thursday 'in light of the number of cases and the advice given'

Darwen Aldridge Enterprise Studio in Lancashire, which is secondary school for pupils 13-19 years of age, has told parents that their children would be studying remotely from Thursday to at most next week ‘in light the numerous cases and the advice’

Molly Kingsley, of parent group UsForThem, said: 'It’s time we let our children get on with living their lives'

Education Select Committee chairman Robert Halfon

Right: Molly Kingsley of UsForThem parent group said that it was time for parents to let their children live normal lives. Right: Education Select Committee chairman Robert Halfon is backing a Bill which would seek to prevent ministers from easily closing schools again

When schools returned in September many restrictions including bubbles and isolation periods were scrapped and secondary students and staff were told they no longer had to wear facemasks (stock image)

Schools returned in September with many restrictions removed, such as isolation periods or bubbles. Staff and students from secondary schools were also told that they were no longer required to use facemasks. Stock image

Some 42,484 infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, up 14.1 per cent on the 37,243 positive tests registered last Tuesday

Infections of 42,484 people were reported in the past 24 hours. This is an increase of 14.1 percent from the 37.243 positive results recorded last Tuesday.

Lockdown at a crushing price: A devastating audit reveals how one year of restrictions has left students struggling to cope

Research shows that lockdowns have a devastating effect on children who are disadvantaged. They were twice as likely not to be able to learn at home.

One in five pupils who are poorer than the rest struggled to cope, and many students spent days not working.

A Daily Mail audit of studies during the pandemic shows children have lost at least six months of normal, in-person lessons, translating to an estimated £40,000 loss in lifetime earnings if they do not catch up.

Every child is behind by at least one month in learning, and primary school students are behind by three months in maths.

Last Friday, March 20th was the last day schools were allowed to open. Over the next 12 months, three lockdowns were placed on schools. Children had to attempt to learn at home.

Schools were slow to offer online classes and more than 1 million kids didn’t even own a tablet or laptop when the pandemic began.

An online survey conducted among families between January and February revealed that 18% of people living in poverty had difficulty coping with online education. This compares to just 9 percentage of the children in better circumstances.

One snap poll found one in ten poor pupils had done no work that day – compared with just one in 20 better-off pupils. A third of parents with poor experiences rated homeschooling as low by February’s half-term, while only 25% of the other parents did so.

Three out of five deficient parents had difficulties understanding homework, as opposed to only two percent of the other parents.

This study involved 1,200 families from 75 primary schools and was funded by Education Endowment Foundation.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, children had lost approximately half of a year’s normal in-person education by February half-term. It said the average child could lose £40,000 from their lifetime’s income unless they are helped to catch up.

Education Policy Institute also found that every child is at least one-month behind their peers in learning due to the pandemic.

Molly Kingsley also from the UsforThem Group said: “We are deeply saddened that schools have to close due to Covid. 

The ‘Kids are missing so much face-to–face time this school year that it is just as important for them to get back into their classrooms with their friends and continue learning.

“To close schools while adults enjoy Christmas parties and mixing seems particularly unfair. We need to let our kids live the lives they want.  

A former minister has called for the reinstatement of Covid, after it caused disruptions in education. A school triple lock will be implemented to stop the Government from shutting down more classrooms.

A new Ten Minute Rule Bill championed by Robert Halfon, the Conservative chairman of the Education Select Committee, seeks to redefine schools as ‘essential infrastructure’ to ensure they remain open during any future public health or national emergencies.  

Colin Grand from Darwen Aldridge was the principal. He told The Manchester Evening News, “Like most small schools, even an increase in staff testing positive to Covid has a significant effect on our ability face-to face lessons.”

“With the help of PHE, DfE, and Covid guidelines, we made the difficult decision that we would like to make a brief circuit break to allow us to transition towards remote learning. This will be until December 2nd when our students and staff can return. 

Covid cases rose in the UK, but hospital admissions and deaths fell as the epidemic became more unpredictable.

Infections of 42,484 people were reported in the past 24 hours. This is an increase of 14.1 percent from the 37.243 positive test results last Tuesday.

Hospitalisations decreased by 12.9 percent week-on–week. On Thursday 826 infected Britons sought NHS care.

The daily Covid mortality rate fell 22.9% on the previous week. There were 165 deaths within 28 days from people who tested positive for the virus.

As Covid’s destruction of classrooms continues, hundreds of schools in England are cancelling assemblies.

Under the direction of local councils, primaries and secondaries have been evicted from Wiltshire and Staffordshire.

Area head teachers were advised to impose other restrictions like mandatory face masks indoors, and staggered break time.

However, schools across the nation are taking matters into their own hands to stop rising infections.

Thurston Community college in Essex, yesterday was the latest institution to break with official guidance by making compulsory face covers mandatory and cancelling assemblies. 

Similar reports have also been reported at schools in Northamptonshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, and Herefordshire. 

Both schools which this term closed in a Covid ‘circuit breaker’ have told the pupils that they will be learning remotely in the meantime

Two schools, which had this term been closed due to a Covid circuit breaker, have informed the students that they will learn from home in the interim.

North and south divide. Scotland is roaring ahead with rolling out the first dose of the Covid vaccine to 12-to-15-year-olds compared to England. All 10 of the best performing areas were north of the border with England hosting the bottom 10, the majority of which are in London

There is a north-south divide. Scotland has begun to roll out its first Covid vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds. This is in stark contrast to England. All the top performing regions were found north of England. The bottom 10 were all in London.

In order to bring back the Covid curbs, hundreds of schools have been told to “proactively” 

In response to increasing infections in schools, councils instructed school officials to impose a stringent Covid ban on all campuses.

Many Staffordshire primaries and secondary schools were encouraged to take action and not wait for official guidance.

Council members in the county urged residents to bring back year group bubbles and facemasks. They also encouraged scrapping assemblies and meetings. To limit the mixing of children and teachers in playgrounds, it recommended that schools should stagger start times and break times.

Staffordshire County Council is responsible for more than 400 schools. It was believed to be one of the first to encourage the reintroduction of such comprehensive measures.

Some local authorities also have restored mask-wearing practices, in particular Cumbria and Northamptonshire.

Parents of children whose relatives have tested positive for HIV are advised to’stay home pending PCR results’. Schools cannot legally force them to isolate.

In August, ministers removed the requirement that all Covid cases contacts must be self-isolated.

Scotland has a much more conservative approach and advises to avoid large gatherings. Students in secondary schools must use masks inside. 

Official estimates indicate that nearly 10 percent of secondary school students in England have Covid.

The rising rate of cases has been attributed to a slower vaccine rollout among children. Only 3% of the 12-15-year-olds have criticized Covid in areas where they are most in need.

Many parents hesitate to give their children the vaccine because of the finer risk-benefit ratio than with adults. 

Geoff Barton is the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. He stated that schools have staffing issues and that students are missing more school because of Covid.

The i was informed by him that this is occurring despite employees being vaccinated. However, the situation has been exacerbated due to a shortage of qualified supply personnel.

Leaders will cancel any activity they don’t consider essential for the school day. For example, leading assemblies. This is because many are required to fill in as frontline teachers to replace staff absentees.

“They might also think that cancelling large student groups could reduce the chance of infection.”

A major study has shown that Covid is not more common in teachers than it is for other workers.  

University of Bristol researchers found that teachers and school assistants under 64 years old were no more at risk than those in similar jobs.

According to researchers, the mortality rates for female teachers were lower than that of five years in the nine first months of the pandemic. However, the deaths rate for male teachers was comparable to what was expected.

Over-65s who were working in schools experienced a ‘large increase in deaths. Researchers found that only 33% of extra deaths certificates listed Covid in the cause. This suggests other causes.

Experts said that governments should consider the study published in BMJ Open when considering whether or not to close schools during future coronavirus pandemics. 

Schools in England are starting to close again as head teachers impose 'circuit breakers' and send children home to learn remotely ahead of Christmas amid a surge in Covid (stock image)

England schools closing as Head Teachers impose “circuit Breakers” and send their children home for learning remotely in the midst of a rise in Covid (stock illustration). 

£34,050-a-year Kent private school that makes children wear yellow badges if they are exempt from wearing masks is slammed for the ‘inappropriate’ similarity to yellow stars Nazis forced condemned Jews to display 

A £34,050-a-year Kent private school that makes children wear yellow badges if they are exempt from wearing masks has been slammed for the ‘inappropriate’ similarity to yellow stars Nazis forced condemned Jews to display.

Farringtons School Chislehurst has made it mandatory that students wear masks when they enter classrooms or corridors. This was in response to rising Covid-19 rates.

David Jackson, Headmaster of the school sent a note to parents explaining his decision. He said that exempt students would wear a yellow badge and all other students should cover their faces ‘until further notice’.

It has been criticized as being “deeply inappropriate” and accused of disregarding the ‘historical connotations’ yellow badges that condemned Jews, who were displayed in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Although the school’s policy was heavily criticised, Molly Kingsley (co-founder of UsForThem), stated that it wasn’t an isolated case. The Telegraph reported.

“Asking students to wear an exemption marker is quite common in schools, and unbelievably the specific instance of asking them for a yellow badge isn’t in isolation.”

She stated that the historical connotations of yellow buttons’shouldn’t need to be explained’ and claimed it was inappropriate to request children who are not exempt from wearing them to do so.

Ms Kingsley warned that asking students to declare themselves exempted from the need for a cover on their faces could cause them more anxiety.

The team stated that employees were not at risk of dying in comparison to other professions.

Covid struck Britain last March and caused schools to close for many months. This forced students to take their classes online, while exams were cancelled.

However, the school was allowed for vulnerable students and children who are key workers (e.g. frontline social and health care staff) 

After schools were closed, students had to remain isolated in the event of a positive test or contact with an infected person. More than one million students were not able to attend school during this summer.

Some teachers complained that they were at high risk and wanted to see schools close as soon as the Government ordered them.

However, a number of researches and data from the real world have proven that teachers are less likely to get a Covid infection, be diagnosed with a deadly disease or receive hospitalization.

Between March 8th and December 28th last year, the Office for National Statistics published death data for workers aged between 20-64 by the Bristol team.

They wanted to determine the death risk from Covid in teachers. Many of them continued working during lockdowns.

The researchers discovered that the covid mortality rates for people who work in schools were much lower than other professions.

There were a variety of death rates in the sector, from 10 for 100,000 primary school teachers females to 39 for 100,000 secondary school teachers males.

The team didn’t name any other professions that had comparable rates. They were 9 to 50 for 100,000 women, 10 to 143 for 100,000 men.

The death rate of female teachers during the nine-months prior to the pandemic was less than that for the average five-year period, while the number of deaths in male teachers was comparable to the average five-year time.

Researchers found that teaching assistants died more often than expected, although they acknowledged there was some uncertainty.

The team discovered that there were significant excesses of deaths among older school personnel, compared to the five-year average. 

Researchers found that only one third of extra deaths had been registered as Covid-related.

Study suggests that the remaining deaths might have occurred because of delayed treatment for other pandemic-related conditions.

Researchers believe that older employees may have had higher death rates because they avoided the NHS during pandemics or feared of contracting the virus.

Sarah Lewis is a university molecular epidemiologist and the lead author of the study. She said that teachers, teaching assistants and lunchtime helpers aged 20 to 64 years were not at higher risk for death due to Covid in the 2020 pandemic. This was in contrast to England’s working-age population.

There was no evidence suggesting that Covid could cause death in secondary school teachers. However, overall the Covid mortality risks to school personnel and all other professions was equal to non-Covid.