Seven schools to close after ‘super spreader’ parties cause virus increase

Seven schools in Wales are to close for two weeks after a “significant” number of coronavirus cases.

A number of high schools and primary schools in the Cardigan area will shut from Monday after concerns about the “speed and spread” of the virus in the area.

In a letter shared by Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi on Sunday, Meinir Ebbsworth, chief education officer at Ceredigion Council, said she was “extremely concerned” about the spread of the virus in Cardigan.

A “significant” number of positive Covid-19 cases in the area has resulted in a “very high” number of contacts, many of whom are now waiting test results after developing symptoms.

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Cases were described as the result of “actions of the community” and not those of local schools.

Ceredigion Council has also urged residents to follow the rules after a rise in cases traced back to “super spreader” events such as parties and social gatherings.

In total, seven schools will close from Monday, November 23, to Monday, December 7. Pupils at all schools will be taught remotely.

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These include:

  • Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi
  • Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi
  • Ysgol Gynradd Penparc
  • Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth
  • Ysgol Gynradd T.Llew Jones
  • Ysgol Gynradd Llechryd
  • Ysgol Gynradd Cenarth

The Flying Start Nurseries in Cardigan and Aberporth will also be closed until Monday, December 7, 2020. Cardigan Library will be closed until Monday, December 7.

According to the latest figures released on Sunday, November 22, Ceredigion had 100.4 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population, for the seven-day period from November 13-19. That’s compared with the figure released seven days previously which was 70.2, a total that was falling at the time.

The joint letter, written by Ms Ebbsworth and head teacher Donna Hanley, said: “Schools have worked tirelessly to keep your children safe. These cases are linked to the actions of the community and not to the actions of local schools.

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“There is overwhelming evidence that the speed and spread of the virus in the Cardigan area means that immediate action is needed.”

In a statement, Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi said: “All schools in the Cardigan area will close from tomorrow, November 23rd until December 7th due to high rates of community transmission of the coronavirus locally.

“YUA Staff will be working from home to deliver education to our pupils in each year, from year 7 to year 13. Teachers will use a variety of approaches, but it is expected that all students will have a mix of the different approaches as outlined in our blended learning policy – online learning, digital learning, synchronous teaching and non-synchronous teaching.”

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Ceredigion Council said in a statement: “Over recent weeks, the number of cases in the county has increased significantly and we are now experiencing the highest number of positive cases since the pandemic began.

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“We are now seeing the virus spreading in our communities, several of which can be traced back to super spreader events such as parties and social gatherings. This kind of behaviour is totally irresponsible and is putting the health of our loved ones at risk, is having a direct impact on the education of our children and is putting pressure on the NHS.

“Contact tracing has identified that the number of contacts for each positive case has increased, which tells us that people are mixing households and are mixing socially.

“The council has taken action and has served several businesses with improvement and closure notices where they have been breaking coronavirus regulations. The council will continue to issue notices where we become aware of concerns or breaches. Members of the public are urged to inform us if they have any concerns that a business in Ceredigion does not have adequate measures in place to operate safely.”

 

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