SHUTTING down schools is a last resort, but the Government and education settings in Bradford already have contingency plans in place "for all scenarios" as yet more coronavirus cases were confirmed yesterday.

St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School, in Wibsey, became the seventh school in the city and wider district to confirm a positive test for the COVID-19 virus, since reopening after the summer holidays.

Executive Headteacher, Ben Lavin, "immediately closed" the affected class bubble, after finding out about the case on Tuesday, September 8.

Other students from the bubble were asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Three secondary schools from the same Trust, Dixons Kings Academy, Dixons Trinity Academy and Dixons Cottingley Academy, confirmed positive cases last week.

At the start of this week, Beckfoot Heaton Primary School joined the list.

Margaret McMillan Primary School, in Heaton, confirmed yesterday that it was alerted to a case of coronavirus in the school on Monday, September 8.

Meanwhile, Bradford Academy, in Teasdale Street, has informed parents that a member of secondary staff has tested positive for Covid-19.

The cases have encompassed both staff, pupils and family members at home.

All instances have required some form of action to be taken.

So far, at all seven schools, only specific bubbles have had to close and self-isolate.

But, with the rate of infection rising drastically in Bradford, and cases also spiking across the whole country, the threat of partial and full closures could be on the horizon.

Public Health England data shows that in the seven days to Sunday, September 6, the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Bradford stood at 78.4 per 100,000 people, with 423 new cases.

That's a jump from 52.8 the previous week (the seven days to August 30) and is the second highest in England, behind Bolton.

The Government is operating a tiered approach to coronavirus outbreaks at schools and colleges, whereby all possible measures will be taken before they have to close.

All schools in areas with local restrictions have reopened in "Tier 1".

Local authority leaders and directors of public health, alongside national government, are in control of any escalation up the tiers.

"Tier 2" will only be reached if all other possible measures, such as restricting other sectors, are exhausted.

At this point, schools and colleges in restricted areas will use rotas, while primary schools remain open to all pupils.

"Tiers 3" and "4" introduce remote learning full time for wider groups of pupils, with vulnerable children and children of critical workers continuing to attend.

It seems preparations are already being made in the background to facilitate the worst-case scenario.

One academy chain, which runs six Bradford schools, has outlined it is ready to move to live online teaching if needed.

Star Academies looks after Eden Boys', Laisterdyke and Tong Leadership Academies, as well as Thornbury, High Crags and Barkerend Primary Leadership Academies.

A spokesperson for the chain said: “The Government has produced guidance explaining how tiers of intervention would operate in the event of a substantial escalation in COVID-19 cases.

"Our commitment is to provide pupils with the best possible education within a safe environment.

"Our teachers are working incredibly hard to help pupils catch up on any learning they missed last term.

"We are hopeful that it will not be necessary to resort to partial or complete school shutdowns which would inevitably be disruptive for our communities.

"We have contingency plans in place for all scenarios which include live online teaching to pupils who may be self-isolating at home.”

The teacher of the class affected by the coronavirus case at Margaret McMillan Primary is already teaching the children remotely, while they are at home for the 14-day isolation period.

But that may need to be expanded school-wide in many settings across Bradford and the rest of the country in the coming months.

Councillor Imran Khan, portfolio holder for education, employment and skills, said: “We know that infection rates in our district and other parts of Yorkshire are concerning, and we will work together with schools and our partners to monitor this.

"Schools are well prepared to act appropriately and have clear plans to follow to make sure that they take swift advice and action to reduce the risk of infection spreading.

"We will all work together to make sure children get the education they need in a way that minimises any risk to the health of staff and pupils.”