Almost 650 Portsmouth students missed lessons at the start of July due to Covid

HEADTEACHERS in Portsmouth are hoping the new term in September will see more of a return to normality for schoolchildren, as data showed almost 650 students were out of class at the start of the month due to Covid.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 4:55 am

According to Portsmouth council-held data 643 pupils in all city schools, academies and colleges, were out of lessons for reasons relating to coronavirus on July 1.

This represents 2.9 per cent of 22,199 students, with 24 confirmed cases of Covid and 90 suspected cases.

A total of 323 were self-isolating having had a potential contact in school, and 206 through a contact out of school.

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Headteacher of St Edmund's Catholic School, Simon Graham
Headteacher of St Edmund's Catholic School, Simon Graham

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This was an increase on the previous week where a total of 539 had to isolate - 13 of which were confirmed cases.

Polly Honeychurch, headteacher of Cottage Grove Primary School in Southsea, said a lot of her students had anxiety about returning after isolating.

‘I have only had one class, which is one bubble, that had to isolate since Easter, missing seven school days,’ she said.

‘We had a few children who are isolating individually but it hasn’t been anywhere near the amount that it was before.

‘Our issues are more around the general anxiety of children coming back into school. They have had such a disrupted two years, it’s been really difficult.

‘We are anticipating in September it will be a fresh start and attendance will approve.’

She added: ‘I will say I think some of our families found Covid isolating as a good excuse to not send their children to school. Those that do it had poor attendance anyway.’

And Simon Graham, the headteacher of St Edmund’s Catholic School in Landport, had concerns about continuing Covid testing in September.

‘We have been fortunate in that we have not had a huge number of cases,’ he said.

‘But we did have some issues with students getting false positives from lateral flow tests and having to isolate for 10 days.

‘We’ve done everything we can to make it as close to normal as we can while making it as safe as possible. I think the children are markedly resilient and we should give a lot of praise to our young people in the city.

‘We had one or two children who have had issues around long Covid and that’s going to take a long time for those individuals, who didn’t have attendance issues before, to recover.

‘My biggest concern is having the numbers to carry on the testing in September. Previously we had a lot of parent volunteers and people who were on furlough but I think we’re going to have to rely on staff, which could take time away from teaching.’

It comes as 436 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in Portsmouth in the seven days from June 27.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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