Schools across West Country welcome plans to scrap Covid bubble system

Hanham Woods Academy interior
In Cornwall, a rise in Covid cases means some schools have had to close. Credit: ITV News West Country

Schools across the West Country have welcomed plans to end the bubble system - one that tackles positive cases of Covid-19.

Under the current guidelines, if a case is confirmed, all pupils in that child's bubble must isolate for ten days. This can mean dozens of pupils stay at home.

The Government says it may end the system in the autumn term. It suggests replacing the programme with daily tests for all students.

As of Tuesday 29 June, one in 20 state school pupils were absent from school on 24 June amid a rise in cases of Covid-19.

The Government has also published its weekly attendance figures. It shows 90.3% have been attending school in the West Country this week commencing 28 June. This is down from 91.5% during the week commencing 21 June.

Hanham Woods Academy in Gloucestershire has been one of the least affected in the region but the current system of bubbles has been "difficult". It had just four positive cases of the virus, meaning around 160 'bubble' students have had to self-isolate.

The school's Senior Principal welcomes the plans to scrap bubbles and favours daily testing. Stephen Kneller said: "I think having students come in every morning and do a lateral flow test would enable us to have more students on site every day.

"This would therefore improve their academic outcomes, but also their mental health and wellbeing. There is obviously the logistics surrounding that and how we coordinate that will be a challenge for every school.

"But it also would allow parents to back to work as well. It will have a big impact on society as well."

At Pool Academy near Rudworth, staff and pupils say they want to make it to the end of the school year without any more disruption.

On 29 June only a handful of pupils and teachers from Pool Academy were self-isolating. Credit: ITV West Country

Phil Jones, Head of Academy Services at Pool Academy said: ''Our first priority is always going to be the safety of the children. If we can work around that and don't have to isolate as many, it's obviously going to be a lot less disruptive for us.

"We have got great home learning provision, but there's nothing better than being in the classroom with a teacher.''

Year 10 student Cameron Friggens had to self isolate and learn at home for two weeks after a classmate tested positive for Covid-19. He said: "We're meant to be testing twice a week anyway in school but I think that would help a lot more, because it would get rid of the worry if someone's got it, will we miss out on our education? Will we miss out on what we need to be learning? I think it should be a lot easier to work with.''

Cornwall Council commented on the current situation in schools.

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