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Just one school in Cheshire East had to close during autumn term because of Covid-19 – and only for the last day, writes Belinda Ryan.

Mark Bayley, acting director of education, said the autumn term was probably the hardest and most challenging for schools during the whole pandemic.

And he thanked staff for the “Herculean efforts to keep schools open”.

He told the council’s children and families committee: “As of the end of last term we only had one school which had to close which was for the last day of term because that school had 40% cases and outbreaks across pupils and staff.”

He said other schools came close to having to close but managed to stay open.

With Covid rates in schools this term, Mr Bayley said: “Last week we had a Cheshire East rate of 1,788 per 100,000 across the borough.

“In terms of the four to 11 year olds, the rate last week was 1,236 and 12 to 16 was at 1,429 so we have positively seen a drop from the very high peaks that we had overall.

“It’s very interesting to see where that change has now happened, the move has now gone to the older population rather than the high peaks we saw in schools.”

In actual numbers, the education boss said at the end of the first week there had been 1,340 actual positive cases recorded in Cheshire East schools.

Tuesday (January 11) saw the start of the roll-out of the second dose of vaccinations for pupils aged between 12 and 15 in secondary schools in the borough.

Cllr Anthony Critchley (Crewe Central, Lab) asked what the uptake in that age group had been like for the first vaccination and also for teachers and staff and whether there were any issues getting consent forms back in.

Mr Bayley said the uptake for the first vaccination in the 12 to 15 age group had been about 46% but added that number did not include families where children had been vaccinated at other centres outside school.

He said staff working with vulnerable children and those with special educational needs had been prioritised when it came to being vaccinated.

With regard to permission for children he said: “Obviously the vaccination team will not do any vaccinations without consent forms.”

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