City’s schools ready to welcome back children from Monday
Published on Friday, March 5, 2021
AFTER months of home learning, children across Leicester will be back in the classroom from Monday (8 March).
Although schools have been open for key workers’ children throughout lockdown, primary schools will fully reopen to all pupils on Monday.
Secondary schools and colleges will also start welcoming students back, with everyone back in the classroom – once they’ve had the opportunity to be tested for coronavirus – by 15 March.
Schools have been working hard to ensure the environment is Covid-secure for both children and staff, and as well as increased cleaning regimes and strict social distancing measures, all staff will have the opportunity to take two Covid tests each week.
Secondary school students will also be asked to test themselves twice a week, to help ensure the virus isn’t brought into schools. Their families will be invited to test themselves regularly too, with free testing kits due to be available for collection from local rapid testing centres from 15 March as part of the Government’s Community Collect scheme. And as an additional measure this term, students at secondary schools will be expected to wear face coverings in the classroom.
But although health officials are confident that schools are safe environments for students and staff, they are concerned that infection rates could spike because of parents socialising at the school gates.
“The reopening of schools is brilliant news for young people and their parents, but we have to make sure we do everything we can to ensure they don’t have to close again,” said Professor Ivan Browne, Leicester’s director of public health.
“Although children are less likely to pass the virus on to each other, transmission could easily take place between adults gathered at the school gates or failing to socially-distance on the school run. So any rise in infections probably won’t be down to the children – it will be down to their parents.
“It’s important to remember that current restrictions permit you to meet one other person outdoors, so please don’t be tempted to socialise with other parents on the school run – and make sure you wear a face covering, in case social distancing isn’t possible. If we can stick to the rules over the coming weeks, it won’t be too long before restrictions are lifted.”
The reminder to parents comes as Leicester’s coronavirus infection rates remain amongst the highest in the country.
Although slowly coming down, the latest figures* for the city show a rate of 197 per 100,000 – that’s twice the national average.
The city council is targeting households in areas of Leicester with higher levels of infection – including Mowmacre and Stocking Farm – by inviting people with no symptoms to get tested at the nearby rapid testing site at Tudor Community Centre. Anyone who tests positive is asked to provide details of the places they’ve been to and the people they’ve met so that those who have had close contact with them can be traced and asked to self-isolate too.
“With one in three people with coronavirus having no symptoms, rapid testing is the best way to trace people who could be passing the virus on without knowing it,” said Professor Browne.
“Anyone without symptoms can pop in to one of the city’s six rapid testing centres for a free test twice a week. No appointment is needed and results are available within an hour.
“If you do test positive, or you have symptoms of coronavirus, the law requires you to isolate at home for 10 days – and everyone you live with must stay at home too.
“With the way out of lockdown ahead of us, it’s more important than ever that we stick to the rules and keep doing what we’ve been doing: wear a face covering when required, wash your hands regularly throughout the day, and keep two metres apart from anyone you don’t live with.
“And when it’s your turn to have the Covid-jab, please have it. The vaccination is our best way to beat the pandemic and get out of lockdown.
“We need everyone to play their part in bringing Leicester’s infection rates down, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s tried so hard to stick to the rules and has sacrificed so much over the past year.”
As well as the Tudor Community Centre, rapid tests are also available every day at the Adult Education College, Coleman Neighbourhood Centre, Eyres Monsell Community Centre, Fosse Neighbourhood Centre and Hamilton Library.
From Monday (8 March), all the rapid testing centres will be open from 8am-7pm (10am to 5pm at weekends). Last entry is 15 minutes before closing time.
More information for parents of children and students returning to school or college next week is available at www.leicester.gov.uk/returntoschool
*Number of positive tests per 100,000 people in the seven days to 27 February: 197 per 100,000