Advice on when to keep Calderdale kids off school to stay for at least another two weeks

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Calderdale Board Public Health Director Debs Harkins

Calderdale Council Public Health Director Debs Harkins says the “encouraging” numbers suggest cases of Covid-19 among children are declining, but rates in the borough remain high.

The council said it would review its advice – which differs from those issued by the government regarding when to keep children out of school – after the half-term break.

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Ms Harkins said: “The board continues to work closely with schools to keep children and staff as safe as possible.

“As students and staff return to schools after the half-term break, we continue to recommend that schools follow current advice on using additional measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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“Although we have seen encouraging numbers indicating that the rate of COVID in children of primary and secondary age is declining, cases remain high.

“The procedures will be reviewed again in a couple of weeks when the impact of the half-term break on case rates is more evident.”

Calderdale Council issued new guidelines for schools and parents last month in an effort to reduce cases of coronavirus.

This includes asking parents to keep children at home for three to five days if anyone on their home tests positive for Covid-19. They must then do a PCR test and come back only if the result is negative.

Ms Harkins stressed the importance of performing the PCR test, rather than the lateral flow test, as she said the results were more reliable.

Current government advice is that people under the age of 18 do not need to self-isolate if anyone in their home has tested positive, although a PCR test is advised.

Ms Harkins said the aim of the measures is to reduce rates of coronavirus infection in and outside schools to relieve pressure on hospitals and social care services, and to have fewer children out of school due to the virus.

In addition to the new advice for parents, Calderdale Board has issued a series of new procedures for district schools to consider.

High schools are being advised to consider returning face coverings to pupils and staff, and all schools are ensuring windows are open and class group mixing is minimized.

Schools are also being asked to restrict visitors, to consider holding events such as an online parent’s evening, rather than face-to-face, and to consider carefully whether residential visits should go ahead.

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