Isolating students 'hugely disruptive' to schools, headteacher warns

Maria Kemble, executive headteacher across the federation of St Edmund’s, St Edmund’s Pre-school and St Joseph’s

Maria Kemble, executive headteacher across the federation of St Edmund’s, St Edmund’s Pre-school and St Joseph’s - Credit: Michael Hall

A headteacher has warned of the "hugely disruptive" impact of children and teachers who are forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus rules.

Current Covid rules mean that someone who comes into close contact with people who test positive for Covid must stay at home in quarantine.

Maria Kemble, executive headteacher across the federation of St Edmund's Catholic Primary School in Bury St Edmunds, said teachers had to move to remote learning for all groups except Years 2 and 4 last week after 22 positive coronavirus cases amongst staff and students.

As a result, about 300 children were sent home for remote learning. 

Children in a classroom

Students who have to self-isolate after coming in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus is causing disruption in schools - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

"It was hugely disruptive," Mrs Kemble said on Monday.

"We reopened today to most year groups and, even in the year groups where children are able to be back in school, we have got a third of a class absent because either they are unwell or their isolation period has not finished. 

"From the children's point of view, in terms of missing their education, it is having a significant impact - but also there is the social aspect as they are not with their friends which is a really important part of growing up."

Nationally, many schools have warned that they are struggling to stay open or provide the best education for children,

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Mrs Kemble also fears that if children continue to miss days of school, staff will struggle to teach the whole curriculum - which could lead to further disruptions to children's learning. 

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter added: “As more evidence emerges that people who have had both Covid vaccinations do not need to self-isolate, we also need to take a balanced approach about the risks of transmission in children.  

"Common sense should be applied.  

Dr Dan Poulter MP. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dr Dan Poulter MP. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"If a child tests negative after a PCR test, then they should not have to self-isolate for lengthy periods unless there is concern that they will come into contact with someone who is clinically vulnerable, or with an older person who has not been vaccinated. 

"For the overwhelming majority of children, Covid is almost never fatal.  

"So, we are going to have to learn to live with Covid.

"With so many of the population now vaccinated, in the near future we shall need to move away altogether from school children being required to self-isolate.” 

The rules on children isolating could change by the next academic year

Education secretary Gavin Williamson last week said school "bubbles" - where students stay in the same group, to limit the spread of the virus - could be scrapped on July 19 as part of the next step of easing Covid-19 restrictions in England.