SCHOOLS have been advised by Wiltshire Council and the public health team to bring back classroom bubbles because of a rise in Covid cases.

The council has advised schools across the county to “consider their contingency plans” and introduce protective measures in the short term to minimise the spread of Covid.

It is recommending whole school assemblies and other large gatherings are stopped, face coverings are worn in communal areas like corridors between lessons, mixing between groups of students is reduced and "social distancing and good infection control amongst staff as much as possible due to the large numbers of staff who are contracting the virus."

Wiltshire’s public health team has written to all schools advising them to consider where possible to bring in the four measures when threshold levels are reached.

These measures could be introduced in the run up to half term and for two weeks afterwards to minimise transmission and maintain face to face education.

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Director of public health, Kate Blackburn said: “We are advising schools to review their own contingency plans and where threshold levels have been met, to introduce these protective measures to help minimise the spread of infection and maintain face to face education.

“We recommend a focus on these four areas from now and for 14 days following half term whilst we review.

“We all understand the importance of keeping schools open where possible and we believe by introducing these measures at these key points will help keep infection down.”

A letter sent out to parents said that one north Wiltshire primary school would be reverting back to classroom bubbles under advice given by the council.

It added that whole school assemblies and events would also be cancelled for the two weeks after October half-term with the recommendations being reviewed on the week of November 8.

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Trowbridge secondary school, The Clarendon Academy said that it would not go back to bubbles but would not discount the idea.

Deputy head teacher, David Cade said the school is introducing the suggested measures as well as an increase in hand sanitiser use, windows will continue to be left open to increase airflow and changes to desk arrangements so pupils are not facing each other.

Chippenham’s Sheldon School said that three weeks ago in consultation with the public health team it put a halt to assemblies, full staff meetings and mixing of year groups in extra-curricular activities.

A spokesman for the school added: “We have postponed our Sixth Form Open Eve which was supposed to be this evening.

“However, our numbers are now going down and we are hopeful to reinstate these after half term.”

For the majority of schools and settings the threshold is whichever of these criteria is reached first:

  • Five children, pupils, students or staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period; or
  • 10 per cent of children, pupils, students or staff who are likely to have mixed closely test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period
  • For special schools, residential settings, and settings that operate with 20 or fewer children, pupils, students and staff at any one time:
  • Two children, pupils, students and staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period