Hundreds of pupils across the UK were self-isolating yesterday after a string of Covid-19 outbreaks in schools.
Some schools were forced to close entirely but Education Secretary Gavin Williamson insisted the Government is ‘very much’ in control of the safe return of students.
Dozens of schools across England and Wales reported cases of the virus, resulting in children and staff being sent home.
At least three shut completely while others delayed their openings or told dozens of youngsters to stay away from lessons.
However, outbreaks have only happened in a small proportion of the UK’s more than 30,000 schools.
A school visited by Boris Johnson on August 26 (pictured) – Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leicestershire – put a number of pupil groups into self-isolation ‘as a precaution’ after a staff member tested positive
Cases emerged yesterday after primaries and secondaries began reopening to all year groups last week for the first time since March, with the remainder due to open this week.
A school visited by Boris Johnson on August 26 – Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leicestershire – put a number of pupil groups into self-isolation ‘as a precaution’ after a staff member tested positive. During his visit, Mr Johnson had said that ‘continuing to be out of school’ was the biggest risk to children.
Yesterday in a House of Commons session with Mr Williamson, Labour MP Matt Western said: ‘Just in the last week, we’ve had 46 cases in schools across the UK.
‘In Scotland, there were 86 cases, a total of 158 schools already have cases.
‘In a Suffolk school, five teachers, I think it’s in Health Secretary [Matt Hancock’s] own constituency, five teachers and the school has had to close.’
He asked: ‘Is [Mr Williamson] confident the Government really has this under control?’ The Education Secretary responded ‘very much so’ and told MPs schools will only be shut as an ‘absolute last resort’.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said yesterday it was ‘impossible’ to eliminate the risks of