Five Suffolk schools in top Covid tier due to high infection rates

Almost 3,000 Covid cases were recorded in Suffolk schools in the last 10 days

There are five schools in Suffolk's highest Covid tier - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Brian A Jackson

Five schools are in level three of Suffolk’s new school Covid-19 protocol - the highest level - with 21 in level two, according to latest figures.

But council bosses say measures to tackle the virus spread in those level three schools are working - with those establishments due to be in level two again soon.

Suffolk County Council introduced a new school protocol on November 15 which outlines a series of measures schools should consider if they have creeping number of Covid-19 cases.

It is based on a three tier system:

  • Level One: Existing measures around visitor restrictions and face masks in communal areas, regardless of case numbers.
  • Level Two: Suggests school leaders consider re-introducing bubbles and staggered school days. Triggered when 10-29% of a defined group (such as a class or sports group) test positive within a 10-day period.
  • Level Three: Suggests home-schooling for small groups of people likely to have mixed. Triggered when when 30% or more of a defined group test positive with 10-day period.

Those measures are not mandatory and cannot be enforced, but suggested by teams from the council’s public health and children and young people’s departments.

The authority has confirmed that, as of Tuesday this week, five schools were in level three and 21 in level two, out of the 321 state schools in the county.

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A council spokeswoman said: “All schools in level three have appropriate control measures in place and we anticipate some of them moving to level two shortly as the chain of transmission appears to be being broken.

“None of the schools in level three are considering attendance restrictions as cases are stabilising and measures seem to have prevented ongoing transmission within the school.

“We will continue to monitor cases in schools daily and contact settings where cases are increasing to support them.”

The protocol aims to keep as many youngsters in school as possible while doing what is necessary to break the chain of transmission, meaning any measures introduced should affect only small groups who are likely to have mixed closely.

Around three-and-a-half weeks remain of term, with schools due to break up for Christmas on Friday, December 17.

While the school holidays will help disrupt the virus spread among youngsters at school, Public Health Suffolk has already said previously that the Christmas period is likely to lead to more household mixing.

It comes as the county is in a five-week period of additional government support to drive down case numbers, called an Enhanced Response Area.