Sunderland school reintroduces Covid restrictions including face coverings to help control infection rates
St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy has taken the decision to reintroduce the wearing of face coverings when indoors.
In a letter to parents, headteacher Mrs M Shepherd said she’d taken the decision in light of “rising local and national Covid infection rates”.
The letter stated: “From Tuesday November 2, pupils, students and staff across our Trust secondary schools will return to wearing face coverings in internal areas of the school.
"During lunch, students will wear face coverings whilst collecting their lunch, then remove their masks to eat their lunch. Face coverings will not be worn in outside areas.”
The decision comes as the most recent Government data for Covid prevalence in Sunderland showed secondary school age pupils aged 10 to 14 are currently the demographic with the highest case rates in the city with a rate of 1,061 per 100,000 people over a rolling seven day period up to October 28. The rate at the start of half-term on October 22 was even higher at 1,239 per 100,000.
To help control infection rates the school have also implemented a return to further restrictions with the letter stating external visitors “should not physically visit the school site until further notice” and parental meetings will “return to virtual arrangements”.
The decision has been welcomed by Organising Secretary for the NASUWT Sunderland, Nancy Wakeham.
Nancy said: “As a union we welcome this move which is a sensible measure to deal with rising infection rates. It’s only sensible to protect children, staff and transmission to families.
"However this is a decision which has been left to individual schools when really it needs to be a directive from the Government.”
The move comes a week after Sunderland’s Public Health Chief, Gerry Taylor, called for immediate action to tackle spiralling case rates across the city, including, where possible, people considering working from home.
Mrs Taylor said: “It’s vital we act now to reduce spread and prevent our NHS becoming overstretched to the point it can’t cope. We continue to see very high rates of cases in younger people and all ages groups are affected.”
Like St Anthony’s, St Aidan’s Catholic Academy is also part of the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. St Aidan’s has been contacted and we are awaiting their response to confirm if they are also implementing these measures.