Masks return in schools as Covid surges

November 24 2021

SCHOOLS in Hanham and Longwell Green are bringing back some extra precautions this month following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

As the Voice went to print, the latest figures for South Gloucestershire showed that 685.9 people in every 100,000 had coronavirus, with the biggest increase in positive cases among children aged ten to 14.

The district's rate of infections - above 1,000 in 100,000 in some areas - is higher than the South West and national average.

South Gloucestershire's director of public health Professor Sara Blackmore has advised schools to bring in mask wearing in communal areas, increase ventilation, enhance cleaning regimes and avoid assemblies of mixed age pupils.

The steep rise in cases of Covid-19 cases last month  follows the discovery that an estimated 43,000 people, including some who were tested at the site in Cossham Street, Mangotsfield,  received false negative PCR results  from a private laboratory. 

One resident who received a text message after taking a PCR test said: "After my negative result I continued to go out working and shopping – it's worrying to now find out that I could have been infectious all that time.

"My son had a negative PCR test after a positive lateral flow and went to back school, which was the official advice. A few days later he had another positive lateral flow test – this time followed by a positive PCR test.

"He was in tears after realising he had been in school with Covid."

Masks return in schools as Covid surges

South Gloucestershire Council is not collecting figures for the number of school pupils testing positive for coronavirus, after the responsibility for reporting them was taken away from schools in the summer.

A spokesman said: "This is an isolated incident affecting one laboratory and all samples are now being redirected to other laboratories which are operating normally. Testing availability is unaffected around the country."

Professor Blackmore added: “We would like to assure our residents that there is no evidence of faults with any of the test kits themselves, and the public should definitely remain confident in using them and in our other laboratory services. With winter on its way, we are expecting an increase in respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu in addition to Covid-19. Anyone who is unwell is advised to stay at home to reduce the risk of passing illness on to others."

For further advice on testing visit www.southglos.gov.uk/testing or call 119.

Secondary schools began vaccinating children aged 12-15 last month and the council says it expects the programme of jabs for those in this age group whose parents have consented to be completed by Christmas. 

Community clinics also began during half term where parents could book their children in to receive the vaccine. The Government advice is that children in this age group will be well protected if they  receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.