Parents still encouraged to keep unwell children off school in South Tyneside as remaining Covid-19 restrictions end
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February 24 saw an end to the legal requirement to self-isolate if a person tests positive for Covid and the Government have this week confirmed widely available free public testing will cease from April 1.
The move has caused alarm among teaching unions.
Despite the latest Government data showing Covid rates for 10 to 14-year-olds of 360.7 cases per 100,000 people, the move marks the end of all Covid restrictions and two of the main remaining measures of mitigation to control the spread of Covid in schools.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “With the lifting of restrictions, it’s for our schools to determine what that means for them in practice, although the Council’s Public Health, Education, and Health and Safety teams will be on-hand to advise school leaders on their approaches.
“All schools will continue to encourage good hand hygiene and ventilation and some may continue with separate entrances to reduce congestion and support a calmer start to the day. Schools will also encourage any students who are unwell to stay at home.
“Our schools in the borough have done an amazing job throughout the pandemic to reduce Covid risk while prioritising the education and wellbeing of students and wider school community. This further change in national policy marks another stage of schools adapting to the risk of Covid.”
While case rates in schools are falling, the country’s biggest teaching union, the NASUWT, said it was a “real struggle to get to half-term” due to ongoing staffing issues.
With guidance still in place to isolate for at least five days following a positive diagnosis, there are concerns axing restrictions and testing could prolong the staffing challenges facing schools.
NASUWT North East National Executive John Hall said: "My understanding is the vast majority of our region’s schools will continue with mitigation measures including testing and following the guidance to isolate to keep staff and pupils safe.
"Health and Safety legislation trumps anything Boris Johnson has said.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has described the decision to remove restrictions as a "historic moment" and insisted the “time was right”.