I hope you and your families are well. I know we are dealing with significant challenges in our community and across the country as the situation with the pandemic worsens. I want to be positive, against a backdrop of real concern, the fact that we have lots and lots of children and young people in our schools every day and our staff are doing a brilliant job teaching and looking after them, is such a fantastic achievement.
We have had cases in our schools, but we have managed these really well and had great support from the Telford Health Protection Hub, who advise us on the next steps we need to take when we have had a case. We never want to send children home, but we have to in order to stem the spread of the virus and keep everyone safe. Compared to national figures we have more children in school in Telford than many other parts of the country.
The cases in Telford increased by 45% last week, compared to the week before, and we need to do everything possible to minimise the possibility of the local area moving from Medium to High Risk. As a result of this, I have taken the decision that all our students in our three Secondary schools, Charlton, Ercall Wood Academy and HLC Secondary must be wearing masks in school on corridors and community areas from Monday. Masks do help prevent the spread, through droplets of the virus, from an infected person and I do want to do as much as possible to prevent transmission. We will be advising and supporting secondary students next week to help them understand this and to manage masks appropriately. The management of masks is very important to stop the spread of infection so we would request that all students have a small zip-lock bag to keep their masks in when not in use. This should be disinfected every night. I do ask for your support in this, so we do everything possible to keep children in school.
In our Primary schools, we know that masks for children are not appropriate and this is in the government guidance for schools. I would like to request that all our parents who are dropping children off and collecting them at the end of the day wear masks, again this will help control the spread of the virus. Anything we can all do will help suppress infection rates. Social distancing is still critical because masks are not PPE but they do help.
I cannot stress how important it is that if you child is unwell and has any symptoms of COVID-19 that you keep them at home and get a test; this again means that if there is a positive case it has less impact and we keep children in school.
The Government has made it very clear that schools will not close, even in the event of local lockdowns. We all need to do as much as we can to support all the advice and guidance, keeping to the Rule of Six and social distancing so we protect the vulnerable and support the NHS.
As I am sure you are aware, we finish next Friday, the 23rd October for half-term. I know everyone needs a well-deserved break.
Thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Gill Eatough