This is how many school pupils were told to self-isolate in Lancashire last week
Two Lancashire districts each saw more than 600 pupils enter self-isolation last week.
Figures obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for the Lancashire County Council area – which excludes Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool – show that a total of 2,451, or 1.39 percent, of the 176,000 school pupils in the region were told to take the precautionary measure in the week to 23rd May, because of possible contact with Covid cases. That is marginally up from the 1.1 percent seen at the end of March.
There were 112 confirmed pupil infections across the county over the same period, just 0.06 of the total school roll.
Chorley and Rossendale accounted for more than half of the student isolation total between them.
In Chorley, 647 students went into self-isolation over the seven-day period – that represents 3.95 percent of the school population in the borough. The level is only fractionally below that reached in the district just prior to the start of the second national lockdown last November.
Five schools were affected by self-isolations in Chorley – four secondary and one primary.
Slightly fewer pupils – 637 – were given the same order to self-isolate in Rossendale, but that amounted to a higher proportion of the total number in the district, at 5.2 percent. Two secondary schools and two primary schools were the sources of the self-isolations.
There were far fewer confirmed infections amongst school-goers in the two areas – 34 in Rossendale and 24 in Chorley.
Burnley had the highest number of schools affected by pupil isolations in the Lancashire County Council area, at six, and was the only district with confirmed staff infections last week, with two being reported.
All three districts have seen rising Covid case rates in recent days, with Rossendale registering the ninth-highest in the country – 76.9 per 100,000 people in the week to 20th May. Burnley was tenth (76.5) and Chorley fifteenth (58.4).
The county-wide self-isolation total is around a third of that registered in early November 2020.
Responding to the latest self-isolation figures, Ian Watkinson, Lancashire’s representative on the executive committee of the National Education Union, praised public health bosses in the county for recommending that masks continue to be worn in classrooms and corridors in spite of a recent change in the national guidance. However, he added that the rising isolation numbers in the county were a concern.
“The data is clear from over in Bolton – transmission [of the Indian variant of Covid] is far higher amongst primary and secondary pupils than it appears to have been with previous variants. And if you haven’t got safe schools then you haven’t got safe communities.
“Headteachers are doing everything they can and have got risk assessments and measures in place – but they can’t control the virus coming through the door.
“Given the heightened [transmission] of the new variant, we’d welcome education workers getting the opportunity to get vaccinated [as a priority],” Mr Watkinson said.
He also said that the education trades union in Lancashire had been assured that Lancashire County Council’s public health leaders “wouldn’t hesitate to recommend remote learning and more mitigation measures if the situation merited it”.
“But the priority is that there is as little disruption to education as possible – and it’s about striking a balance between that and public health.”
DISTRICT BREAKDOWN OF PUPIL SELF-ISOLATIONS (17th May-23rd May)
Burnley – 256
Chorley – 647
Fylde – 209
Hyndburn – 151
Lancaster – 126
Pendle – 138
Preston – 59
Ribble Valley – 63
Rossendale – 637
South Ribble – 119
West Lancs – 24
Wyre – 22