Sunderland health chief calls on schools to implement “additional Covid measures” including face coverings
The city’s Public Health chief has advised schools to implement additional measures to tackle rising Covid rates including the reintroduction of face covering in indoor settings.
Sunderland City Council’s Gerry Taylor made the statement as the most recently published Government data showed the highest prevalence of the virus in secondary aged pupils aged 10 to 14.
In this demographic, the rolling seven day case rate as of October 29 was 1,016 cases per 100,000 people. The rate was even higher before the natural fire-break of half-term with a case rate on October 22 of 1,239 per 100,000.
Making the announcement in the week children returned from half-term, Mrs Taylor said: “We are continuing to see high rates of infection across all age groups but particularly in young people, and have therefore advised on additional measures to take when schools returned after the half-term holiday.
"This includes the use of face coverings in classrooms and communal areas for everyone in secondary schools and for staff and visitors in primary schools, reduced mixing between year groups and classes as much as possible and wherever possible stopping whole-school or year group events such as assemblies.
“We know that simple measures such as wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed public places and limiting the number of people you mix with can have a real impact in reducing the spread of the virus.”
Mrs Taylor also reminded staff and students of the importance of vaccinations and testing.
She added “We would also urge all pupils who are eligible for a Covid jab to take up the offer at the earliest opportunity because it’s still the most effective weapon we have in reducing serious illness from Covid.
“I’d also urge all school staff and secondary school pupils to continue to test themselves regularly using lateral flow tests and anyone who has Covid symptoms, however mild, to self-isolate and take a PCR test.”
The announcement comes in the same week St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy wrote to parents informing them of their decision to reintroduce Covid restrictions including face coverings indoors, ban on external visitors and a return to virtual meetings.
Headteacher Mrs M Shepherd said she’d taken the decision in light of “rising local and national Covid infection rates”.