Devon school switches to remote learning for all pupils to prevent Covid cases

Children of key workers and those considered vulnerable are continuing to attend school. Credit: Derek Harper/Geograph

A school in North Devon has told pupils to learn from home to try to prevent ongoing transmission amongst children and staff.

Great Torrington School made the decision based on the number of pupils now not attending in person. Teaching has moved from face-to-face in the classroom, to remote learning for all its students for the rest of the week.

All Year 10 students had already been asked to self-isolate, along with several groups of identified pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9. The school’s headteacher has asked all pupils to remain at home for the rest of the week to reduce the likelihood of ongoing contact.

Devon County Council and Public Health Devon are working very closely with schools across the county, following a rise in cases across all ages, but predominantly among Devon’s younger people.

Infection rates across Devon are highest still in those aged 20-39, followed by 0-19s. But in the youngest age groups, they have risen from 7 per 100,000 at the start of June to 83 per 100,000 now. Those aged 60+ have not seen a rise in infection rates.

In his letter, headteacher Andy Bloodworth, said: “I am very sorry to have to inform you that we have reluctantly decided to switch our provision to remote learning.

"I am therefore asking all our pupils to remain at home for the rest of the week, to create a five-day break to reduce the likelihood of ongoing contact.

"This decision was not an easy one to reach, I hope you can understand that the safety of pupils, their families, our staff, and the community, is our priority."

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, added that it is the behaviours outside of school which are putting people at much higher risk of catching and spreading the virus: "It’s important to see this in context. Yes, the focus now is on schools, but it’s unfair to identify them as the necessary cause of the spread.

"We monitor all positive cases of coronavirus in Devon. We know where they are, and by looking at clusters of cases how they are likely to have occurred. In most cases, the transmission has been through social contact, most likely outside of a classroom environment.

"Behaviours outside of school – socialising, meeting up indoors, not wearing face coverings, not following the social distancing rules - all of this is putting people at much higher risk of catching and spreading the virus."

Credit: Daniel Clark Local Democracy Reporter

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