Covid-19 in Leicester and the Immediate Need for Full Online Teaching in Colleges and Universities

Approximately two weeks after schools began reopening in Leicester it was reported in the press that (up until September 15) between 20 and 30 students/staff had been infected in Leicester’s schools. Slightly over four weeks later, a total of 206 students/staff had been infected (“spread over 46 schools of the city’s 122 schools”). Thus, the rate of people testing positive in our schools is increasing rapidly, from around 10-15 individuals testing positive each week in the first few weeks of reopening to an average of 44 individuals testing positive each week over the past four weeks.

When broken down between students and staff, of the total 206 positive infections registered up until October 8, 135 positive cases were in children and 71 amongst staff. But we should be mindful of even these numbers as students tend to carry and spread Covid-19 without showing any symptoms, therefore most cases will remain undetected, and we might expect the actual infected numbers of students to be much higher. This under-reporting is all but guaranteed by the fact that when a positive case is found in a class of 30 students, all the students are told to self-isolate for two weeks, but they are not instructed to get tested, and so even if the entire class were infected it would only show as one confirmed case as far as the government and local authority were concerned!

So, in an attempt to get a better estimate of the spread of Covid-19 amongst students we can look to the most recent data released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In their latest “infection survey” report, released earlier today (October 9), the ONS compared infections rates between all age categories and determined that:

“The highest rates appear among older teenagers and young adults (school Year 12 to age 24), where rates have grown very rapidly in the most recent weeks. The second highest rates are seen in the secondary school age group (school Year 7 to school Year 11). Increases are also apparent across the other age groups, but to a much lesser extent.”

These results are shown in the diagram below (figure 5, from the ONS report), and illustrate a rapid rise from around 0.1% of the age cohort on August 21 to around 1.5% by October 1 (although this figure could be as high as 2%). So while the ONS state that in England “around 1 in 240 people” (which is equal to 0.4% of people) had Covid-19 during the most recent week (from 25 September to 1 October 2020), the rate for “school Year 12 to age 24” is around 1.5%. With rates of infections in schools and universities now rising quickly this present a very, very strong case for ensuring that students in post-16 education should switch to full online teaching with immediate effect!

One comment

  1. Empathy with the North but…As a #Leicester Resident and #Shielder – I and others like myself have been in Lockdown since #March with Zero Support or Acknowledgement

    I feel Totally Neglected – Is Leicester and its people the Forgotten City?

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