SCHOOLS are reporting closures due to positive cases of Covid-19 after pupils returned to the classroom on Monday.

Throughout 2021, students, with the exception of the children of key workers and vulnerable pupils, have learnt remotely, with their return the first step in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown.

However, for some pupils in the county, the return has been short-lived with positive cases causing disruption.

Partial closures have been reported at Pegasus Primary School and St John Fisher Catholic Primary School (Oxford), St John the Evangelist CE Primary School (Carterton) and Queen Emma’s Primary School (Witney).

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The reopening of schools came with a stark message from Oxfordshire County Council’s director of public health, Ansaf Azhar.

He said: “Seeing young people finally able to return to school is an incredibly reassuring first step.

“It’s been clear that the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on young people, with both their mental wellbeing and their learning impacted by not being at school.

“Although there are now additional steps in place to protect teachers, other school staff, young people and their families, such as testing, I must remind residents that it is inevitable that, with schools going back, it is likely that we will see a small spike in cases once more.

Oxfordshire County Council director of public health Ansaf Azhar

Oxfordshire County Council director of public health Ansaf Azhar

“It’s crucial that we continue the great progress we have made by following Government rules for each roadmap stage.

“This includes not mixing with households – apart from meeting with one other person outside for socially distanced exercise, staying at home unless absolutely necessary, including to continue to work from home where possible, and adhering to all the guidance around washing our hands, keeping our distance from others and wearing a mask.

“Even if you have had your vaccination, you must remember that you need two doses to receive the maximum protection against the virus, and you may still be able to pass the virus onto loved ones and those around you who may not have had it.

“Testing remains crucial in our fight against Covid-19.

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“You should continue to make use of any symptom-free testing programme you are eligible for – through your school, workplace, our symptom-free testing facilities, or the Government’s home testing scheme to protect yourself and those around you.

“If we let our guard down now, it could be all too easy for cases to rise sharply once more, as we saw back in the autumn.

“A third wave is still possible if we let our guard down too soon.

“With vaccinations continuing at such speed, we are so close now, and we can all do our bit to get us over that line.”

Latest Department for Education figures reveal just 16 per cent of pupils were being taught on site at county schools before the half-term.

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