As more children start to return to the classroom, local authorities and Public Health England have been together working to ensure a system is in place to help safeguard school communities against coronavirus.
Kent County Council and Medway Council, in collaboration with Public Health England, are working proactively to manage any cases of COVID-19 in schools to ensure any spread of the virus is minimised.
Public Health England’s Health Protection Team gives tailored advice to schools, including who needs to self-isolate, further infection control measures to take and any cleaning required. Close contacts of confirmed cases will also be contacted and advised on actions to take.
Trish Mannes, Deputy Director of Health Protection for PHE South East, said: “In the event of a confirmed case in a school, we have specialists on hand to give advice and support.
“Schools have been advised to ensure that anyone with symptoms stays at home. If they test positive they will need to self-isolate for 7 days and their household members for 14 days. Staff and children in the same class of a confirmed case are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
“The symptoms to look out for include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell.”
Kent’s Director of Public Health Andrew Scott-Clark said: “The most important thing is identifying any cases as early as possible so that the necessary steps can be taken quickly to help prevent the virus spreading further, and also minimising the disruption caused to the school community.
“Schools are asked to ensure they follow national guidance and take certain measures to help reduce the spread of the virus, including staff and pupils washing their hands more often than usual for 20 seconds with soap and water, coughing and sneezing into tissues and promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly and minimising contact with other people as far as possible.”
James Williams, Director of Public Health at Medway Council, said: “We have worked closely with Public Health England to offer our support and advice to schools while the staff and children return to the classroom. Head teachers have put measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus based on their school setting, and the children have adapted extremely well to the changes.
“We will be working with Public Health England to support our communities if there is an outbreak of coronavirus to help reduce the spread of the virus and support those affected. It remains as important as ever that everyone continues to do their bit during this ongoing pandemic to prevent an outbreak, from regularly washing their hands to ensuring they maintain social distancing.”
For the latest information on education and childcare during the Coronavius pandemic, go to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/education-and-childcare