New Covid Measures
New Covid Measures introduced from 1st November 2021
Public health Sunderland has written to all schools over half term to ask us to increase our infection control measures to respond to high Covid case rates in school age children.
At the current time recorded cases of COVID-19 in Sunderland continue to be high and are increasing. Latest data shows that there were 2,124 cases in the most recent 14-day period, 37% of which have been in people aged between 5 and 19 years. The increase in the rate of cases in this age group has been followed by an increase in older age groups, which is also concerning.
It remains a priority to maximise the number of children and young people in face-to-face education and minimise any disruption but in response to this ongoing and worrying situation it is important to take proactive steps to reduce the spread of infection. Doing so will help to bring cases down, minimise the risk of further disruption to education and protect critical health and social care services.
Therefore Public Health Sunderland have recommended schools to continue with the following measures.
- Reinforce the importance of twice weekly LFD testing for all staff – regular testing will help to reduce transmission by identifying those who are infectious but do not have any symptoms of COVID-19
- Reinforce that any staff or pupils with symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, should stay at home and take a PCR test.
- Anyone who is unwell should stay at home, as advised in the winter plan.
- Continue with regular cleaning measures, including enhanced cleaning in an outbreak situation with particular attention to high contact areas such as door handles, light switches, toilet flushes and taps and communal handrails
- Good hand hygiene - washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
- Good respiratory hygiene – people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing and dispose of used tissues immediately and clean hands.
- Ensure windows are open in the classroom to facilitate good ventilation, as much as is practicable and particularly in areas that have been shown to have poor air quality (if your school has access to CO2 monitors).
- Recommending the use of face coverings on dedicated school transport.
We will also implement the additional measures advised below. This advice will be reviewed on a regular basis and as infection levels change.
- Recommend the use of face coverings for staff and visitors in communal areas, unless exempt (including for visitors).
- Reduce mixing between year groups and classes as much as possible to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
- Wherever possible stop whole-school or year group events e.g. assemblies. We will now do virtual assemblies.
- Virtual staff and governors’ meetings.
- Limit visitors to the school and consider carefully whether events that bring parents into the school can be managed safely or should return to online.
- Carefully consider whether educational trips and residential visits should go ahead.
Hopefully these measures will enable us to keep our case rates low and keep everyone safe in the more challenging winter months. We have reviewed the school risk assessment this morning to implement the changes. Today, I held an online whole school assembly to inform the children of the changes too.