Keeping our guard up

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Rye College, as children and young people return to classrooms

After eight months of the pandemic, the director general of the World Health Organisation has just underscored four essential strands which should be part of all governments’ approach to tackling the disease.  These are:

  • prevent large events and gatherings
  • reduce risks to vulnerable people
  • encourage all individuals to play their part: social distancing, avoiding enclosed spaces, or wearing face coverings in the company of others, and hand washing or sanitising
  • identify hotspots of rising infection and to be prepared to impose selective lockdown measures to regain control.

After a long period when not all administrations were on the same page of pandemic handling measures, most now seem to be so.

Rye Mutual Aid continues to consider the vulnerable.

Local infections remain low

Looking at the situation in the local area, infection numbers as reported by Public Health England, remain low when compared to the rest of England. In Rother, there have been three cases in the last week. In Folkestone and Hythe there have been six cases. Further afield, there are several hotspots, mostly in the north of England and Scotland, but Devon is seeing a rise in infection.

Foreign travel has also been in the news with indications that Portugal and Greece may soon be removed from the list of countries regarded as safe to travel to from the UK and added to the so-called quarantine list. Travelling to such a country requires 14 days self-isolation on return to the UK. Scotland has already announced that travellers returning from Greece must self-isolate for 14 days, and travellers arriving in Wales from the Greek island of Zante have since been asked to self-isolate after a cluster of cases there.

I was interested to read Barry Blakelock’s (the executive head of Rye College) comments on last week’s update, because they may have wide interest, I copy them here for those who missed it:

“As way of clarification I would add that Rye College and Community Primary School continue to follow government guidance. As an English Secondary School, Rye College now has the discretion to require face coverings be worn in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely maintained. Guidance advises face coverings are not necessary in classrooms because of other mitigating measures in place and the negative impact wearing face coverings could have on communication.

Face coverings – the issues

“At present, we do not require students to wear face coverings in communal areas however this will be kept under review. This may change if we felt the layout of the premises made it particularly difficult for individuals to maintain social distancing when moving around the school.

“If localised restrictions were to be imposed in Rother due to a high transmission rate, in line with government guidance, we would ask for face coverings to be worn when moving around the school.

“Current guidance does not recommend the use of face coverings in nurseries and primary schools such as Rye Community Primary School. This is because children and adults are only mixing in consistent groups in these settings; additionally, misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission and there may also be negative effects on communication and education.

“Our planning is kept under regular review in light of government guidance and published on our website. Were the advice to change, our position would adjust accordingly.”

With students returning to school there will be many looking to see if infection re-occurs.  In particular for those families with members who are more vulnerable to the virus because of underlying conditions, the return to school will not be without some concern.

East Sussex County Council education guidance remains here.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

1 COMMENT

  1. It is dangerous and a public health issue that students are not expected to use face coverings whilst in classrooms or communal areas. We know from statistics coming out from the US whose schools have reopened that C-19 cases are up in districts and in universities where mask usage is optional. We also know that UK government guidance has been confusing, inconsistent and often behind the curve throughout this pandemic. In order to keep cases low in the Rye area the school administration needs to do its part NOW and not if an outbreak occurs. The actions by Rye Academy in this case are not in the best interests of the public’s health.

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