EDUCATION bosses in Southampton have said they will aim to minimise disruption to schoolchildren following the announcement of Plan B.

Cabinet Member for Education at Southampton City Council, Councillor James Baillie, told the Daily Echo that they are working to balance the risk of transmission as well as minimising the disruption to young people’s education for the remainder of the school term.

On Wednesday evening Boris Johnson announced home working from Monday, increased use of face masks, and the introduction of Covid passports from Friday.

Speaking from Downing Street, he advised “all those who can” to work from home.

He added that, from Friday, face masks will be extended from just shops to be worn in other venues, such as cinemas.

The NHS Covid pass is to be made mandatory in England in a week’s time for nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather.

Cllr James Baillie said: “We will continue to work collaboratively with headteachers and will identify any additional support required in the event of a significant number of Covid-19 cases occurring within a school, balancing the need to reduce the risk of transmission with minimising the disruption to children and young people’s education for the remainder of the school term which finishes on Friday 17th December.

"We have supported our schools to reintroduce measures previously announced by the DfE including the wearing of face masks and will provide additional support if needed.”

The number of coronavirus cases in Southampton increased by 161 in the last 24 hours, official figures show.

The rate of infection in Southampton now stands at 15,772 cases per 100,000 people, lower than the England average of 15,916.

However, there were no new coronavirus deaths recorded in the latest 24-hour period in Southampton.

Dr Debbie Chase, director of public health at Southampton City Council, said: “The government has announced a move to Plan B measures which will come into force in the coming days. This announcement comes at a time when cases are already high and local health services are under pressure.

"While we are all mindful of the impact that additional restrictions can have on people’s lives and the challenges that these can pose to local businesses, it is also important to slow the increasing spread of the Omicron variant and reduce the chances of our local NHS services coming under unsustainable pressure, while buying time to deliver more boosters.

“We all know what we need to do to limit the spread of the virus and reduce the need for further restrictions.

"We can do this by continuing to test, having our vaccinations and booster shots when eligible, working from home where possible and wearing masks in line with the government guidance, and self-isolating when required to do so.”