Last week the DailyPost ran a news article about Covid-19 pupil related absence. The article was based on a freedom of information request to Wrexham County Borough Council. The data the council provided for was for the 29th Septembmer – one day only! The figures listed for St. Joseph’s show 15 pupils being absent. It did not refer to positive cases, but covid related e.g. quarantining on return from abroad, or self-isolating (or due to others in a household) pending test results.
St. Joseph’s complies fully with all legislation and protocols. We seek advice from Public protection and Public Health Wales. Up to and including 8:30am on 12th October, there has been no need to send any contact group / bubble home.
Please see the response from Wrexham County Borough Council below:
We understand that many parents will be concerned about the recent number of schools affected by absences due to coronavirus.
However, it’s really important to stress that the figures widely reported in the media today do not represent the number of positive cases…they represent the level of absence caused by pupils and staff having to self-isolate.
Pupils could be asked to self-isolate for reasons not linked to the school such as returning from holiday from a quarantined area or a parent or another household member is awaiting a test result.
Wrexham school leaders and staff are working incredibly hard to keep schools safe and open, and will continue to do so for as long as is necessary. But co-operation and understanding from parents is crucial at the moment…so please support them.
Wrexham Council’s Chief Officer for Education and Intervention, Karen Evans, says:
“Schools are working incredibly hard, and I want to thank parents for their co-operation. Your support is essential in making sure that our headteachers can do their job.
“We realise that it can cause problems for parents when their children have to self-isolate and school bubbles have to close, but this is critical in helping to contain or prevent the spread of the virus in schools and within the community.
“Please make sure you follow the guidelines at your child’s school by maintaining social distancing when travelling to and from school, and when on the yard or outside the school gates.
“If your child is asked to self-isolate, please follow the advice from Track, Trace and Protect, and keep your child indoors. By working together, we’ll keep our communities safe and support schools to stay open.”
We all have a responsibility to our families and communities to take extra care when we’re outside of school or work.
For example, please don’t visit friends or family in their homes. Stick to social distancing. Pay close attention to hand hygiene, and wear a face-mask in indoor public spaces.
The virus is on the increase in most of North Wales, and local restrictions have been introduced in Wrexham – along with Flintshire, Denbighshire and Conwy – so it’s more important than ever that we all do our bit and follow the rules.
As in any workplace, if a person tests positive in our schools, some pupils and staff (known as ‘contacts’) will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks. The extent of the group asked to self-isolate will depend on the individual school’s plans, the building layout and to what extent pupils have been able to be kept separate during the school day, and staff availability.
When a pupil tests positive, Wrexham Council works closely with Public Health Wales to review the number of potential contacts the pupil has had, and then decides who needs to self-isolate.
Sometimes, information about positive tests can be received late in the evening or over the weekend. So in the first instance, it’s often sensible to take a cautious approach and ask the entire ‘bubble’ to self-isolate. That gives us time to further review the situation and the movements of the pupil, and see if it’s possible to reduce the number of pupils who need to self-isolate.
Mrs Evans adds: “Schools have full risk assessments in place and are taking precautions to protect both staff and students. They also have plans in place to switch pupils who can’t attend school onto digital learning platforms, so they can keep learning.
“The vast majority of our schools remain open and the council is working closely with schools affected by absences, Public Health Wales and NHS Wales Test, Trace and Protect to ensure appropriate measures are in place.”