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

Just days after they reopened…

Alex Watson

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Educators.co.uk/Flickr

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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Bonfire Night, Christmas lights switch-on and NYE fireworks cancelled in Manchester

JUST IN…

Proper Manchester

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Mike Peel / Wikimedia

Some of the biggest festive events in Manchester have been cancelled, in some sad news this afternoon.

The council has scrapped its official Bonfire Night displays, as well as the city centre’s Christmas lights switch-on and the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

With coronavirus still affecting our everyday lives, it was always likely this could be the case, especially considering Manchester has overtaken Bolton as the worst affected hotspot in our region.

David Dixon / Geograph

However, there is still a glimmer of light, as it’s also been revealed there’s hope the Manchester Christmas Markets might still return to our streets this year.

The event remains ‘under review’, as the council works out whether they can safely go ahead.

Some parts of the event have already been given the green light to return, like the ice rink in Cathedral Gardens, which will be open from November 7th to January 3rd as things stand – with a larger rink and reduced capacity so people can social distance.

And Christmas lights will still be put up around Manchester, even though there’s no switch-on ceremony.

The giant LED Santa – who appeared in Piccadilly Gardens for the first time last year – will also be back, accompanied by a trail of light sculptures throughout the city.

David Dixon / Geograph

Councilor Pat Karney, Manchester’s Christmas spokesperson, said: “Christmas in Manchester is an incredibly important time for the city’s economy.

“The city attracts millions of visitors each year, which local businesses rely on – and it’s important to the city’s recovery that we can bring people back into the city safely.

“Covid means that Christmas will be different this year, but we are working hard towards celebrating the festive season as safely as possible. So watch this space.”

However, the council has made it clear that all events are subject to coronavirus restriction updates at both a local and national level.

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Manchester bars launch #CancelTheCurfew campaign to end ‘disastrous’ 10pm curfew

Everything you need to know about the campaign…

Alex Watson

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Louis Hansel/Unsplash

A new campaign, launched by the hospitality industry in Manchester, is calling for the government to scrap the 10pm curfew in a bid to save the industry.

Hospitality professionals from around the country have grouped together to help launch the #CancelTheCurfew campaign.

It’s been designed to raise awareness to consumers about the impact the 10pm curfew is having on the industry, and with hopes that the government make a U-turn on their policy. 

The curfew is a devastating blow to the hospitality industry that reopened just 12 weeks ago to the public, after being closed throughout lockdown.

The curfew means some businesses are losing multiple hours of trade a day, including over 40 hours a week in some of those worst hit. 

Tom Lord, founder of Hospitality Gin and hospitality consultant, says: “The industry that we love is in grave danger of being suffocated by this curfew. Some venues were starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel before it was announced as customers returned and we all settled into ‘the new normal’. Now we’ve been plunged back into uncertainty.

“We want the British public to know the impact that the curfew is going to have, not just on our businesses, but on our friends and colleagues. We have borne the brunt of the measures announced over the past fortnight.

“We are vilified as breeding grounds for the virus, yet Public Health England’s own figures show this is not true. In fact, the latest figures show that we have one of the lowest infection rates outside of the home.

“Hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs as a direct result of this disastrous policy, thousands of businesses will close their doors forever, and the hospitality industry will never be the same again. Stop blaming hospitality, let us serve”

In an Instagram post, @cancelthecurfew wrote: “The UK Hospitality Sector directly employs 10% of the working population and contributes £39 Billion in tax revenue.

“The newest legislation and government advice is paralysing our industry and we must be heard; as a unified voice, to protect what we have left and what our futures might hold for us.

“You can show your support by using the hashtag #cancelthecurfew and by signing our Google sheet document. We hope to raise awareness of our cause and get to those who make these decisions before it’s too late.”

The movement started this week on social media, with the explanation that the worst hit venues are reporting a more than 60% drop in revenue since the curfew has been imposed. 

Adding to that, they said: “Latest figures from PHE show that only 3% of transmissions outside of the home are from the hospitality sector.”

Mojo’s Manchester has also now banned the MPs from their bars until the curfew is changed.

Michael Greenhow of Mojo said: “With neither evidence to support the assumption that hospitality is driving infection – only 35 cases reported in the sector and as of yet no sign of the threatened dramatic upturn in deaths, the move to curtail the operational hours of our already crippled industry seems unjust and punitive, not to mention illogical and irrational.

“Are people more infectious after 10pm? Hospitality has slaved to work responsibly within the constraints laid out for us and now we are being thrown aside with scant concern for the impact these measures will have on our businesses and the wider economy.”

The movement begun this week by asking hospitality leaders, operators, employees, and anyone with a love for the hospitality industry to share the #CancelTheCurfew images on social media.

They are then following this up with a silent protest and social media ‘thunderclap’ at 10pm this Saturday, October 3rd, with venues and workers all over the country standing outside their venues and posting images of this on their social media.

You can show your support by signing the contact form here, and there’s also a petition in the pipeline pending approval from government. 

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‘Hero’ Asda worker pays for customer’s shopping after he forgot his card

What a top bloke!

Alex Watson

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Asda/Facebook

An Asda worker that paid for a shopper’s food after he forgot his debit card has been hailed a ‘hero’.

Alex works at the Omagh branch of Asda in Northern Ireland, and has been hailed a hero on the internet after he footed the bill for a customer who forgot his wallet.

Asda shared the news on their Facebook page, writing: “A big well done to our colleague Alex who went out of his way to help a customer at our Omagh store who’d realised he’d forgotten his debit card when he went to pay for his shopping just as the store was closing.

“Rather than leaving the customer stuck, kind-hearted Alex went ahead and paid for the shopping himself.”

Asda/Facebook

Alex said: “I just didn’t want to leave the customer stuck. It was very late at night, and I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone!”

His store manager added: “This is just one example of Alex going the extra mile for our customers.

“Not many would trust that the person would come back to pay for their goods, but Alex did as he didn’t want to see them stuck.

“He’s a very caring member of our team, and I think he has a very bright future here.”

Facebook users have congratulated Alex, one saying ‘What a top block. Give the guy a medal”.

Another added: “Well done young man I bet your parents are really proud, they have every reason to be.”

A third wrote: “Well done Alex, not many would have been so kind. So glad your store manager applauded you on your kindness to one of its customers.”

Well done Alex! 

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