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More than a thousand pupils sent home from Greater Manchester schools to self-isolate

Just days after they reopened…

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A matter of days after schools welcomed back pupils, 15 schools in Greater Manchester have had to tell students to stay home and quarantine for 14 days. 

Students are put into bubbles as part of the new safety measures, which means that any children within the bubbles need to isolate too.

Bubbles in primary schools where classes are around 30 are a lot smaller than those in high schools, where whole years were set up as bubbles, affecting as many as 200 children, the Manchester Evening News reports.

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The worst affected school is Co-op Academy in Swinton, with positive cases in both Year 7 and Year 10, meaning both year groups were sent home on Monday.

Initially this meant siblings also had to remain off, but parents have since been told otherwise. But if the child who is isolating gains symptoms, other members of the household should face the same restrictions. 

However, this has worried parents who are dependent on children going back to school so they can return to work. Many are now concerned children will be in and out of school throughout the year.

A parent of a child at the school in Swinton has said her child would be better off at home.

She told the MEN: “What’s the rules if we just want to keep our children off for the foreseeable? This is just going to continue and they’re going to just keep getting sent home.

“Day three and it’s happened. It’s going to be a weekly occurrence. I am not putting my child at risk, she has severe asthma. So I don’t want her going back.”

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Newall Green Primary School in Wythenshawe had a confirmed positive case on Monday morning and told year 1 and 2 to stay at home.

They have since reduced this to one class in year 1. 

Executive headteacher Sarah Rudd said: “We were alerted first thing this morning before school started to a confirmed case within the school. We took the decision in the interests of keeping all children and staff safe to err on the side of caution and ask two year groups to remain at home today, pending further advice from health officials. No other year groups were affected.

“Since then we’ve had detailed discussions with health colleagues who have advised that just one class of pupils and teachers will need to isolate and stay away from school for the next 14 days, whilst the rest of the classes in the two year groups and their teachers can return to school tomorrow.

“School already has all the required safety measures in place, however as an extra precaution all the classrooms in the two affected year groups are also in the process of being deep cleaned in preparation for pupils’ return.”

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The whole of year seven is remaining off until September 18th at Buile Hill Academy in Salford, due to a positive case.

The MEN has confirmed that more than a dozen schools throughout Greater Manchester are in the same situation. 

They added the below list confirming the schools where pupils are self-isolating:

  • Buile Hill Academy, Salford – (Year 7)
  • Co-op Academy Swinton – (Year 7 and Year 10)
  • Dean Trust Wigan – (Year 8)
  • Manchester High School for Girls – (Year 5 Prep)
  • Newall Green Primary School, Wythenshawe – (One class in Year 1)
  • Yew Tree Community School, Chadderton – (Class 4 Red)
  • Middleton Parish Church School
  • Bowlee Park Community School, Middleton – (Year 1 Class 3 and Year 1 Class 4)
  • St Stephen’s RC Primary School, Droylsden – (Confirmed case in Key Stage 2)
  • St Anne’s Primary School, Denton – (One class in Year 5)
  • Old Hall Drive Academy, Gorton – (Year 6)
  • Old Moat Primary School, Withington – (Year 6)
  • Gorse Hill Primary School, Stretford – (Year 1)
  • Brooklands Primary School, Sale
  • Seymour Park Community Primary, Old Trafford

Schools have confirmed they are following the guidance set out by Public Health England and Department for Education inspite of the frustration felt by parents. 

Greater Manchester’s national executive member for the teachers’ union NASUWT, Jac Casson, explains that the number of pupils in isolation is no surprise. 

She added: “Sadly, as the infection rate appears to be growing in many areas of Greater Manchester, it is likely that this will happen in more than the handful of schools already affected only days into the new school term.

“We know that leadership teams, teachers and other staff are working hard to provide a safe learning environment for pupils and they will, understandably, feel concerned about these confirmed cases of Covid-19 in schools across Greater Manchester and the country as a whole.

“The NASUWT is supportive of, and committed to, the aim of pupils being in school and having the benefit of being taught by their teachers. However, it is essential that everything that needs to be done is done, to ensure the safety of staff and pupils and to protect the health of the local community.”

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Wigan Council’s director for public health said: “The return to schools will inevitably see a rise in cases across the country, but it is important to note that all the relevant and necessary safety measures are in place and being followed strictly.

“We are supporting the school with advice and guidance at this time. The school remains open and it is not necessary for any other child to self-isolate, stay away from school or to be tested, unless they develop symptoms of Covid-19.”

A spokesperson for Trafford Council added: “Our Public Health Team is working closely with three Trafford primary schools where a small number of pupils have tested positive for Covid 19. The schools involved are Seymour Park Primary, Brooklands Primary and Gorse Hill Primary.

“The schools have informed all parents and the children and staff in the affected classes have been asked to self-isolate for two weeks in line with government guidance.

“The schools in question will remain open to other pupils during this time and the affected areas will be deep cleaned. The health and safety of pupils and staff at all our schools remains our number one priority and our Public Health Team will continue to work closely with school leaders to provide them with the necessary support.”

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Police seize over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in Cheetham Hill raids

GMP are stamping down on ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’

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GMP

Police have seized over £3m worth of counterfeit goods in a series of Cheetham Hill raids conducted as part of their ‘crackdown’ on counterfeit fraud.

According to a statement issued by Greater Manchester Police last night, Officers from City of London, North West Regional and Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), Border Force, Immigration and local officers yesterday executed their tenth raid on Lockett Street and Bury New Road.

There, £1million’s worth of goods including clothing, accessories, bags, perfume and jewellery were found and seized. This added to the other £2m worth of goods found across the last week. 

Six men, all aged between thirty-six and sixty-one, have all been arrested and released under investigation pending further enquiries, according to the force.

The raids come as part of GMP’s Operation’s ‘Magpie’ and ‘Cranium’, which aims to tackle ‘the illegal distribution of counterfeit items’, and tackle ‘the supply of illicit prescription drugs’.

Inspector William Jennings-Wharton from the Cheetham Neighbourhood team said in a statement: “This is all part of our continued work to tackle organised crime taking place in Cheetham Hill and I want to reassure the local community that we are listening to their concerns and this week’s action is all part of our continued crackdown.

“Counterfeit goods and drug dealing will not be tolerated and all of these raids are a huge step in really driving a wedge in organised crime in the area.

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“Counterfeit goods are not a victimless crime – though these desired items may look good and are cheap, they are funding a wider picture that involves money laundering, organised crime and cheap labour.

“The profits from such businesses can be used to fund other serious crime, and often with that comes violence which can have a devastating ripple effect on communities and nearby legitimate businesses.”

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council added: “Counterfeit crime runs far deeper than just the sale of knock-off coats and handbags [as] there are deep links to other criminal enterprises and the sale of fake goods only puts money in the hands of criminals. 

“We remain committed to tackling this practice at the source and will continue to work with our partners in the police to secure prosecution against perpetrators… And get fake goods off our streets.”

Anyone with information has been encouraged to report it online or by using the LiveChat facility at www.gmp.police.uk or by calling 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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This is why some supermarkets are refusing to enforce the new face mask rules

Supermarket bosses have spoken out

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A number of supermarkets have addressed the reason they won’t be enforcing the new face mask rules that are now mandatory across the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of face masks and self-isolation over the weekend in a bid to tackle the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

However, despite the mandate being backed by the government, a number of supermarket bosses announced that they would not be enforcing masks upon their customers.

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Iceland was the first supermarket to announce its stance on the matter, with the chain’s managing director Richard Walker saying he wouldn’t be asking staff to enforce the new restrictions as they focus on the ‘long-term recovery of the high street.’

Walker told The Daily Mail: “We fully support the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in shops, however, we won’t be asking our store colleagues to police it.

“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street.”

Supermarket giant Co-op has also said that they would not be enforcing face coverings in their stores – nor would they refuse to serve a customer without one.

The British Retail Consortium has said it’s down to the police to enforce the measure, saying, as per The Sun: “Customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff.”

Since then, Tesco, Aldi and Lidl have all echoed this stance, with each saying they have no plans to challenge customers over the wearing of a face covering in store.

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Alternatively, Asda and Morrisons have announced that they will be regularly enforcing the use of face masks while also handing out free masks to those who don’t have them, while Sainsbury’s said it will have ‘greeters and security guards at the front of our supermarkets’ to remind people to wear masks. 

A statement from the Government on the rule change read: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”

All hospitality is exempt from the rule change. 

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Boris Johnson reveals plan to offer all adults booster jabs by the end of January

NEWS JUST IN

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The government plans on offering all adults booster vaccines by the end of January, Boris Johnson has revealed today.

The Prime Minister spoke at a Downing Street conference this afternoon where he announced the planned booster rollout will take place across 1,500 pharmacy sites across England in age order. 

Over 400 military personnel will help with the rollout, Johnson added.

Noting that it’s ‘time for another Great British vaccination effort’, Johnson said: “The target we’ve set ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January.

“As with the first jabs, we’ll be working through people by age group going down in five year bands, because it’s vital that the older and more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first.”

The Prime Minister stressed that even those who had their second jab over three months ago should wait until the NHS contacts them about a booster appointment.

This announcement comes as face masks are made compulsory once again in all shops and on public transport.

The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

The change in rules was announced by the Prime Minister after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. 

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that all adults will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine as part of a reaching expansion of the jabs programme to deal with the potential impact of the new variant.

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