The city’s director of public health, Greg Vail, has asked parents and children to prepare for some disappointment, as a spike in Covid cases in schools appears likely to mean that half the time before Christmas will not be ‘normal’.
In a letter to parents and guardians, Mr Vail said: “Like the rest of the country, Sheffield is now seeing higher case rates in school-age pupils, which is to be expected. We want to make sure we continue to manage transmission as much as possible and reduce the number of cases.”
“This means that unfortunately, some things are not quite back to ‘normal’ and I realize that many of you will be disappointed as Christmas approaches because schools may not always be able to put in some of the things you know at this time of year.
“We all want as many of our children and youth as possible to have a ‘normal’ and positive school experience. Schools work very hard and do everything they can to maintain face-to-face teaching and learning in a safe manner.”
The incidence of Covid in Sheffield is currently 391 cases per 100,000 population, based on data for the week ending October 17 – the latest reliable figures on record.
In the previous week, in the seven days to October 10, the infection rate was 368 per 100,000.
At this time last year, as the country was heading towards a second lockdown, Sheffield’s infection rate was 350 per 100,000. However, rolling out the vaccination means a significant decrease in the number of people being hospitalized with Covid than they were before the rollout began.
And in September, the vaccine began being introduced in schools in the city, with children aged 12 to 15 given the chance to receive a single dose of the vaccine.
Now, 13 guidelines have been issued to schools in Sheffield on how children and staff should behave in order to limit the spread of the virus. and this is:
If a member of your family has tested positive for COVID-19, please ensure that all family members have a PCR test (whether they have symptoms or not). You can access the PCR test via: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. Young people living in the family who are of high school age must now also take LFDs daily until the PCR result is returned.
Within your household, continue to use LFD tests regularly twice a week at home.
If anyone in your household has symptoms (high temperature, new and persistent cough, loss or change in sense of smell or taste) and if the child is sick, a PCR test should be done and if your child is unwell, they should not to go to school.
Face coverings are encouraged in public areas of the school or indoor enclosed spaces including public transportation (unless exempt) and teachers should support this.
Everyone in the home should wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
Schools may have to reduce mixing between year groups and classes if there are increased cases of COVID-19 in the environment.
Schools should ensure that classroom windows are open to facilitate good ventilation. Some settings will use carbon dioxide monitors to monitor air quality.
Reduce the number of events and meetings in which a large number of pupils, parents/carers and staff participate. This means that parents’ evenings may be held virtually and with Christmas approaching, schools will be looking carefully at the possibility of continuing events.
Think carefully about whether to proceed with educational trips and residential visits.
Mr Phil said there are significant benefits to the vaccination program for children and young people aged 12 to 15. Pupils are given vaccinations at school and encouraged.
Children who have missed a vaccination at school are advised to book an appointment at the Sheffield Vaccination Center on Longle Lane by calling 119. Walking centers also offer immunizations for children aged 12 to 15 to get their vaccination, and parents should check the ‘Grab-website’ a-Jab’ to find their nearest center, which is updated every day as new locations open.
“Vaccination is the most important thing you and your family can do to help us stop the virus,” said Mr. Phil. If you have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, please get it as soon as possible. It’s also important that anyone who qualifies for a booster vaccine gets this as soon as possible.”
It is also recommended that children, teachers and parents get the flu shot. The flu vaccine is important because it is likely that more people will catch the flu this winter because fewer people will have natural immunity during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you get the flu and COVID at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to get seriously ill.
Mr. Phil added: “The next few weeks with Christmas approaching, and the upcoming winter period will be difficult for all of us. The steps outlined above will help tremendously and I hope you understand their importance. Thank you for your patience and support. COVID-19 continues to impact the things we do and how We live our lives.
“By following the 13 points above, this will help the children and youth living in the city continue their education in school and so that we all have as safe fall and winter as possible.”