New contact tracing process for schools comes into play as council bosses ask parents to keep following guidance to avoid Covid outbreaks

COUNCIL bosses are encouraging parents to stay vigilant about Covid to help ‘keep infection down’ in Portsmouth as a new school system comes into play.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 11:03 am

A call has gone out asking parents to keep on carrying out twice-weekly lateral flow tests over the summer, as has been requested in term time.

Schools are transitioning to a new tracing procedure as they are no longer required to carry out contact tracing where someone has tested positive for Covid.

This is now done through NHS Test and Trace.

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Alison Jeffery, director of children, families and education at Portsmouth City Council

Alison Jeffery, Portsmouth City Council's director for children, families, and education, said: ‘As the new process takes over and to ensure a smooth transition, where schools are aware a child has been a close contact of someone who has tested positive, we have asked the school to contact the parents and ask parents not to send their child to school for the last few days of term.

‘They will then be contacted by Test and Trace about their self-isolation period.

‘We are aware this will be very disappointing for any families affected but this action will help keep infection down in the city and in particular avoid an outbreak in a school.

‘The approach we are taking in Portsmouth, means that for primary schools, where the teacher is a close contact, it is likely the whole class will be moved to remote learning for the remainder of the term.’

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Hampshire County Council reports that the number of schools reporting Covid cases is in line with the rising infections seen across the county.

A council spokesperson said: ‘As we approach the end of term, heads and teaching staff are working extremely hard to ensure as many children as possible are able to stay in school, taking into account the current self-isolation guidance.

‘All schools with positive cases or where self-isolation is required are being supported by Public Health England's local Health Protection Team to ensure detailed communications are shared with parents, carers and the wider school community in a prompt and timely way.’

Although the council publishes details of schools with positive cases, it has not been doing the same for the number of cases or year groups isolating due to rapid changes in figures.

Alison added: ‘During the summer holidays, I'd like to encourage everyone who is out and about to continue with twice weekly rapid lateral flow testing.

‘These are free and widely available, and help identify the one in three who have the virus but show no symptoms but who need to self-isolate to protect others.

‘Also parents should keep a close eye on primary age children and if they show symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild - persistent cough, high temperature, loss of sense of taste or smell - they must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test appointment online or by calling 119, or order a home test kit online.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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