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The number of school children who have tested positive in the 10 to 14 age group in Cheshire East is nearly five times that of adults, writes Belinda Ryan.

Latest available figures quoted by director of education Jacky Forster revealed that at the beginning of the week (October 4), the overall positive rate in Cheshire East was 515 per 100,000 population.

In the 10 to 14 age group, that number was 2,399 per 100,000.

Ms Forster said there was good news though as the number testing positive in the 15 to 19 age group, which had been the highest, has now fallen since many had been vaccinated.

At the children and families committee, Ms Forster said: “Nationally, the higher rates of incidence are in school aged pupils and we’re seeing that very much within Cheshire East, and they are fairly significant.

“In terms of the rates by age, the nought to four age population, the rate is 208 per 100,000, so less in our early years.

“In the five to nine year olds, it’s 954 per 100,000, so double the population average.

“In our 10 to 14 year olds, which predominantly hits our secondary schools, the rate is 2,399 per 100,000, so five times the rate near enough of that in our population, and slightly less in the 15 to 19 year olds at 1,108 per 100,000.”

She added: “The positive within that is that the older age range, the 15 to 19, was our highest rate but what we’re seeing now, with the roll-out of the vaccine, that that is most definitely having an impact and so that’s no longer the highest rate within our schools.

“We have started to roll out the vaccination of the 12 to 15 year olds in schools, that started this week with two high schools, and while I don’t have the exact figures what we’re hearing is that the take-up of that is higher than they were anticipating.”

Mrs Foster said the per 100,000 numbers referred to, equated to about 1,000 children currently being off school in Cheshire East after testing positive.

She said of those about 600 were high schools pupils and 400 primary.

“It’s a very uneven distribution though, so we’ve some schools with very few rates and [some] schools with very high rates.”

She said it was a very difficult time for teaching staff who were managing to keep schools open and thanked them for their efforts during ‘a very challenging time’.

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