Cambridgeshire schools asked to bring back masks

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Cambridgeshire schools asked to bring back masks

Image source, PA MediaImage caption, The requirement for pupils to wear masks in secondary schools was removed earlier this year but schools can reint

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Image source, PA Media

Image caption, The requirement for pupils to wear masks in secondary schools was removed earlier this year but schools can reintroduce them

Schools in Cambridgeshire have been asked to reintroduce face masks after a rise Covid-19 cases.

Public health officials said more than 50% of recent infections in the county were in the 0 to 17-year-old age group.

Cambridgeshire has three areas in the top 50 case rates in England, including Peterborough, which had a 32% week-on-week rise in cases.

Jyoti Atri, director of public health for the area, said masks were a “sensible precautionary measure”.

Health and education officials in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have also recommended social distancing for staff within school buildings.

They also said staff meetings and non-essential events where parents visit schools should be held virtually, if possible.

Covid-19 case rates in Cambridgeshire

Image caption, Peterborough had one of the highest rises of Covid-19 cases in England

In the week to 2 October, Fenland had the highest rate in Cambridgeshire with 495 cases per 100,000 people, a 6% week-on-week increase, and the 38th highest rate in England.

Peterborough had the 46th highest rate in England with 482 cases per 100,000 people, and Huntingdonshire was one place behind it with 480 cases per 100,000 people, but that was a 2% week-on-week fall.

East Cambridgeshire had 444 cases per 100,000 people, a 6% rise, while South Cambridgeshire had 351 cases per 100,000 people, a 23% rise.

Cambridge had a 30% week-on-week fall in case rates to 187 cases per 100,000 people.

Ms Arti said: “We know that younger children are less likely to have a poor outcome after being affected by the virus, but they live in families within communities where there are others who may be more clinically vulnerable.”

She said the rollout of the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds would “offer school children, teachers and families greater protection”.

Director of education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council, Jonathan Lewis, said the “aim at all times is to keep schools open and to continue normal education wherever we can”.

At the start of term, schools in England were advised face coverings were no longer routinely needed for staff or pupils, although they were still recommended in crowded spaces such as on school buses.

But the Department for Education also said schools could temporarily reintroduce bubble groups and face masks in communal spaces in areas with higher Covid rates.

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