Cambridgeshire teacher calls for five-day Covid isolation period to ease pressure on schools

  • Watch Stuart Leithes' report for ITV News Anglia

Some schools facing staff shortages are backing calls for the period of covid isolation to be reduced from seven days to five. 

The latest data in England shows that one in 12 teachers were absent last week, a situation one union believes is only going to get worse in the coming weeks.

The Beeches Primary School in Peterborough has seen a surge in Covid cases this month.

Eight teachers have had it since the start of term and deputy headteacher Will Fisk said he would like to see the isolation period reduced.

Mr Fisk said: “Five day isolation period would be a lot better for us and certainly a lot better for the children. We want the children in school, learning, with their peers, with their teachers in front of them."

The government is understood to be considering a five-day isolation period if it is supported by scientific evidence.

Reducing the isolation period could help ease pressure on schools. Credit: ITV News Anglia

At Mile Cross Primary in Norwich they say they are focused on working with seven-day isolation for staff and pupils with Covid.

Stuart Allen, headteacher at Mile Cross Primary, said: “I think, moving to five, I’m a little bit concerned about that, because actually if somebody is ill I don’t want to rush staff back.

“I think about their mental health and recovery we need to be mindful of that and make sure we’re looking out for all of our staff.”

The isolation period has also caused problems in the hospitality industry.

Oliver Thain is the founder of a company running restaurants and pubs in Cambridgeshire, including the Crown and Punchbowl at Horningsea. 

Mr Thain said: “Seven days, I mean it’s much better than the ten, but of course it’s caused us problems.

“As soon as you know someone’s off for seven days, and particularly if it’s a senior role, that takes a lot of covering, so that has caused us a lot of problems. If that can be reduced to five, fantastic.”

But some experts have sounded a note of caution about people spending less time in isolation.

“The short-term consequence, even within the next week or two, maybe because fewer people are isolating and actually they were infectious and transmitting the virus, both within the community and within workplaces, you may actually get more infections.

“It’s not really that difficult to get 30% more infections and you may actually have a greater impact on your workforce.”

Shortening the isolation period would mean that people spend less time absent from schools and businesses. But there are concerns that not everyone would be free from infection after just five days.