Covid advice to Bedford schools is set to be reviewed next week

“Anything that helps children to continue to attend school is great, we do need to be cautious"

Friday, 12th November 2021, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 12th November 2021, 1:35 pm

The Covid advice issued to schools, colleges, parents and carers over half-term is to be reviewed, a meeting heard.

Ian Brown, Bedford Borough Council’s chief officer in public health, told Thursday’s (November 11) Local Outbreak Board that there has been a strong focus on schools as the Covid rates were “very, very high” in the borough’s school-aged children.

“Since the schools have returned after half term the number of notifications that we’ve received at the council has decreased,” he said.

The advice to schools, colleges and parents is set to be reviewed next week

“The number of settings that have reported an outbreak remains low, I think currently there are only three settings in the borough that have reported an outbreak, which clearly is good news.”

The borough’s director of public health, Vicky Head, wrote to schools, colleges and parents/carers over the half-term week to advise them of some additional measures that could be taken to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 among children young people.

The advice asked that staff and visitors should wear face coverings in all schools and colleges in the communal areas outside of the classroom.

Students in Year 7 and above, or Year 5 and above in middle schools, were asked to wear face coverings in those same communal areas.

The letter also “reiterated the importance” of wearing face coverings on school and public transport, unless exempt for medical reasons.

Mr Brown said: “We’ve seen very clear trends in terms of household transmission between siblings, between adults and children, and between children and adults.

“So to try and combat the impacts of that on schools, we’ve asked students in Year 3 and above, and staff who are household contacts of a positive case, to take a daily lateral flow test for seven days, and only attend their setting if that test is negative.”

“And we’re also advising they should continue to follow the national guidance, which is to book a PCR test if you are a close contact of a case.

“We’ve asked that schools should take measures to reduce indoor mixing in their schools, that they should try to reduce non-essential visits,” he said.

Staff were also asked to socially distance to prevent staff to staff transmission.

Mr Brown said: “This advice has really been carefully thought through to try and reduce the likelihood of transmission and minimize any further disruption to education.

“We’ll be reviewing that advice next week, and then advising schools what they should be thinking about for the rest of the term.”

Councillor James Valentine (Labour, Kempston West Ward) said: “I want to thank Ian and Vicky for their action with regard to schools.

“I think it was exactly the right thing to do, the measures that you’ve brought in I think are sensible and proportionate.

“Anything that helps children to continue to attend school is great, we do need to be cautious.

“As far as we know, very few children get ill, but we don’t know about long-term effects.”