Child Covid rates in Greater Manchester spiked by 56 per cent after first week back at school

The reopening of schools has brought a large spike in the number of pupils infected with Covid.

Infection rates among children aged 10-14 are now higher than in any other age group.

Figures for the week ending September 8 show that rates have risen by more than 50 per cent in all-but three areas of Greater Manchester.

Rochdale has had the largest percentage increase, of 128pc, followed by Bolton at 87pc.

READ MORE: What will happen if you don’t consent to your child being vaccinated for Covid?

But Tameside has the highest infection rate among 10 to 14-year-olds, at 859 cases per 100,000, followed by Stockport with 780.3 cases per 100,000.

Across Greater Manchester, the infection rate among 10 to 14-year-olds rose by 56pc to 612.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending September 8. In contrast the overall rate across all age groups only went up by 14pc.

Rochdale has had the largest percentage increase, of 128%
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

The figures come as many mitigation measures have been dropped in schools, including bubbles and social distancing.

A positive test on a pupil or staff member will no longer spark a period of isolation for all classmates.

Instead only close contacts are being asked to take a PCR – and remain off school if they test positive – and it’s for NHS Test and Trace to decide who those contacts are, rather than schools.

While the government says it should bring large-scale disruption to an end, union bosses say there are already signs that positive cases are having an impact on pupils yet again.

Covid infection rates in kids aged 10-14 across Greater Manchester, week ending Sep 8, 2021
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

Peter Middleman, the National Education Union’s north west regional secretary, said: ” Early anecdotal evidence from across the region suggests that the third academic year is already being disrupted by self-isolations of primary and secondary schools students following positive tests.

“However, because the government have recently reduced the frequency of their publication of school absence data to fortnightly rather than weekly, we won’t have a definitive understanding of the extent of the problem until the first data set is released on 21 September which is entirely consistent with the veil of secrecy the profession has had to grapple with in its dealing with the Department for Education.”

The NEU and other unions have welcomed this week’s approval of vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds, but many feel it should have happened sooner and that children’s education will suffer for another school year because of that delay.

In the meantime they are calling for the reintroduction of safety measures such as masks and improved ventilation to help prevent transmission.

But Tameside has the highest infection rate among 10-14 year olds, at 859.0 cases per 100,000
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

On Tuesday, the National Association of Head Teachers reacted to the government’s Covid winter plan, saying it ‘represents another missed opportunity when it comes to schools’.

“The government should be acting with a far greater sense of urgency when it comes to making classrooms as safe as possible,” said its general secretary Paul Whiteman.

“The current plans to get CO2 monitors into classrooms by the end of term are simply too slow and need to be accelerated. Equally, plans should be in place now to support schools where poor ventilation is identified.

“If the government is serious about minimising disruption to education, it should be moving heaven and earth to make classrooms as safe as possible and to minimise the risk of transmission. Sadly, there is a sense of inevitability that the current ‘wait and see’ approach will lead to further and unnecessary disruption in the coming months.”

Infection rates for 10-14 year olds in each area, week ending September 8, compared with the previous week

  • Rochdale is 652.9 up from 286.5 the previous week – 128pc increase
  • Bolton is 537.7 up from 284.3 – 89pc increase
  • Trafford is 597.0 up from 360.6 – 65pc increase
  • Oldham is 577.8 up from 357.4 – 62pc increase
  • Stockport is 780.3 up from 483.6 – 61pc increase
  • Manchester is 497.4 up from 326.6 – 52pc increase
  • Tameside is 859.0 up from 570.3 – 51pc increase
  • Wigan is 679.7 up from 463.0 – 47pc increase
  • Salford is 511.6 up from 395.0 – 30pc increase
  • Bury is 413.0 up from 404.9 – 2pc increase

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Education is a national priority and early indications from the start of term suggest attendance in schools is high in both primary and secondary schools across England.

“The protective measures in place strike a balance between making schools safe and reducing disruption. Children no longer need to isolate if they are a close contact, but we encourage all secondary students to continue twice weekly testing, which will help find cases of the virus, keeping it out of schools.”

A Rochdale council spokesperson said: “School cases continue to be recorded and managed daily by our public health team.

“Schools across Greater Manchester have an educational settings support pack which provides guidance to respond to increased case rates. This means that infection control measures can be introduced as and when they need to in order to balance everyone’s safety and the need for children to be in school.”

MEN – Stockport