New guidance has been drawn up for schools in Hertfordshire to reduce the number of children being asked to self-isolate ‘unnecessarily’.

As part of existing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, children remain in restricted groups – or ‘bubbles’ – throughout the school day.

Should there be an ‘outbreak’ of Covid-19, pupils within that bubble may then be asked to self-isolate for two weeks.

Since the start of the autumn term, children from a number of schools have been sent home to ‘self-isolate’ for two weeks.

But in a letter to be sent to all parents, Hertfordshire’s director of public health Jim McManus suggests updated guidance may mean fewer children will be send home in future.

The letter read: “Guidance for determining close contact has been created specifically to help schools plan and deliver teaching bubbles in a way that means they can deal with Covid-19 cases with the least disruption to our child’s education.

“This should help reduce the need and number of children asked to self-isolate unnecessarily.”

In the letter, Mr McManus acknowledges that many parents will feel “anxious” about their children returning to school.

He highlights steps already being taken by schools – including physical changes to settings, staggered start and finish times and alternative lunch and break times.

Mr McManus tells parents that they are ‘developing further tools and guidance’ for schools, including a dedicated helpdesk and a ‘local support team’.

He also says all schools have particularly considered children who are vulnerable because of their health.

In the letter Mr McManus highlights the rising numbers of infections in ‘almost every area of Hertfordshire’.

He stresses the general need to wash hands regularly, to keep a two-metre distance, to wear a face covering where required and to self-isolate if you have symptoms.

Parents were also reminded of the latest restrictions on gatherings – meaning that in most circumstances just six people can meet, whether indoors or outdoors.

Mr McManus explained a number of infections were linked to social events in Hertfordshire.

He said: “It is important that we continue to adhere to the rules including new rules on gatherings if we are to avoid an escalation of infections and further restrictions placed by government on our daily lives.”

The letter – which is being distributed to parents through schools – is dated September 23.