A HEADTEACHER has told of “significant” coronavirus outbreaks at some Herefordshire schools, with more than 1,000 children missing at least a day because they were self-isolating after a positive test.

Two schools in the county have closed due to the virus, and dozens more have children off as they fight to keep cases under control.

Extra measures have been brought in at several schools, including the Bishop of Hereford’s Bluecoat School, Wigmore High and John Kyrle High in Ross-on-Wye.

Headteachers at those schools have written to parents to update them of the situation, with mandatory masks in communal areas and on public transport among the extra measures.

Andrew Evans, headteacher at John Masefield High School in Ledbury, said it had been fortunate to have “very few” Covid cases.

But he was aware of “significant outbreaks in other local schools, and that it could happen here”.

In a letter to parents, Mr Evans said: "We have been fortunate that so far there have been very few Covid cases at JMHS this term.

"However, we are aware that there have been significant outbreaks in other local schools and that it could happen here. We would like to thank all students and staff for continuing with twice weekly lateral flow tests (LFTs).

"In order for us to keep all members of our community safe, it is important for students and staff to continue taking the LFTs at home."

He added that the school was still leaving windows and doors open for ventilation, asking pupils to sanitise hands on entering and leaving a classroom, continuing with its "no physical contact rule" and asking parents and carers to ensure students with symptoms self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Kingstone High School, near Hereford, and Almeley Primary School, near Kington, both shut their doors to pupils amid a rise in cases.

Kingstone’s executive headteacher David Bennett said it was due to “staffing constraints” and the number of students not in school, “affecting the continuity of provision”.

Herefordshire’s public health team said it had worked closely with both schools and “swift action” was taken to find cases and close contacts to reduce the risk of Covid spreading.

But it warned parents to stay vigilant and not send children to school if they have symptoms. Both schools should reopen on Monday.

“Rates of Covid-19 are high in Herefordshire,” public health said, with Government figures showing an infection rate of 581.6 cases per 100,000 people in Herefordshire for the seven days to September 24.

That was up from 323.3 cases per 100,000 the previous week, and could rise again. The spokesperson urged people to test regularly, to wear face masks in crowded areas and to socially distance.

Hereford Academy, a secondary school in Marlbrook Road, also has pupils self-isolating with Covid-19.

In a letter to parents on Thursday, headteacher Michael Stoppard said the safety of children and their families was a top priority, and it would continue working with public health.

It came three days after he said there was not an outbreak at the school.

Marlbrook Primary School nearby also has a case, as well as St Martin’s Primary School and Holmer CE Academy, also in Hereford.

Herefordshire Council said that 48 of the county’s 92 maintained schools reported Covid absences last Wednesday (September 22). The schools reported 494 confirmed cases, and 585 suspected cases.

To combat the spread in schools, the Department for Education set a threshold for when Covid rules should be tightened.

Wigmore High’s senior deputy headteacher Sarah Steer said it was defined as 10 per cent of children or staff who mixed closely test positive for Covid-19 within 10 days. She said the school had reached that level for year seven, so face masks would be required in communal areas, clubs, fixtures and trips were suspended, and students would be separate into year groups at break and lunch.