Teachers call for two week October half-term to contain coronavirus cases

Teachers are calling for a two week half-term in October to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

The National Education Union (NEU) said the move could allow the Government to “get in control of the test, track and trace system and get cases lower, to allow the system to work better”.

The call comes after new data from the ONS showed there was an estimated average of 27,900 new cases per day of Covid-19 between October 2 and 8 across the UK.

The latest infection figures show the number of cases in Manchester has fallen for the fifth day running, however.

The city still has the highest infection rate in the region at 460 cases per 100,000 people – but there has been a steady fall since the peak of 582 on October 6.

The rest of Greater Manchester is still seeing an increase in Covid-19 cases, although at a slower rate than previous days and weeks.

Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not rule out a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown despite having criticised Labour for backing the policy.

The NEU says secondary schools and colleges should shut for two weeks, rather than one, over the October half-term to halt the spread of the virus.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Heads, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential.

On Friday, figures from the ONS showed that the highest rates of infection in England continue to be among young adults and secondary school pupils.

Mr Courtney said: “This should be no surprise to either the Prime Minister or the Department for Education – scientists have consistency told them that secondary students transmit the virus as much as adults, and we have warned them that because we have amongst the biggest class sizes in Europe we have overcrowded classrooms and corridors without effective social distancing.

“Our classrooms often have poor ventilation, leading to airborne transmissions, and in many areas we have also have overcrowded school transport where children are mixing across year-group bubbles.”

“These children live in families and are part of communities, so even if they have few or no symptoms themselves they are still part of spreading the virus to others, including to teachers and other school staff.”

He added: “Such a circuit-breaker could allow the Government to get in control of the test, track and trace system, and get cases lower to allow the system to work better.”

The union is also calling on the Government to guarantee the expansion of free school meals for disadvantaged pupils if a circuit-breaker is introduced over the October half-term.

On Tuesday, Government statistics showed that more than one-in-five state secondary schools were not fully open last week.

The proportion of state schools that were partially closed over the past week increased – and most were not fully open due to Covid-related reasons.

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMibGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lm1hbmNoZXN0ZXJldmVuaW5nbmV3cy5jby51ay9uZXdzL2dyZWF0ZXItbWFuY2hlc3Rlci1uZXdzL3RlYWNoZXJzLWNhbGwtdHdvLXdlZWstb2N0b2Jlci0xOTEyMDM0NtIBcGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lm1hbmNoZXN0ZXJldmVuaW5nbmV3cy5jby51ay9uZXdzL2dyZWF0ZXItbWFuY2hlc3Rlci1uZXdzL3RlYWNoZXJzLWNhbGwtdHdvLXdlZWstb2N0b2Jlci0xOTEyMDM0Ni5hbXA?oc=5

News – Teachers call for two week October half-term to contain coronavirus cases