Schools and nurseries advised to open from next week in North Somerset
PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 June 2020
North Somerset’s schools and nurseries have been advised to consider reopening to wider groups of children from Monday.
Schools had been advised to stay closed for a further week following the recent outbreak of coronavirus cases at Weston General Hospital and have been contacted about the changes by North Somerset Council yesterday (Thursday).
Analysis of North Somerset Covid-19 cases data and contact tracing work since the beginning of May has shown there is no evidence of increased risk of the virus in the area connected to the outbreak at hospital, compared to other parts of the South West.
Deputy leader of the council and lead member for health, councillor Mike Bell, said: “Our advice last week was given as a precautionary measure, as clearly we did not want children, families or staff exposed to any increased risk of contracting the virus while the community impact of the hospital outbreak remained unknown.
“I am extremely pleased that the analysis undertaken by Public Health England (PHE) has concluded that, when taking into account the significant number of new cases identified at the hospital, plus increased finding of new cases through good access to testing locally, the background level of community infection in North Somerset is considered to be more in-line with the regional average rate.
“However, the risk of infection is still with us and everyone needs to follow government advice regarding social distancing and hygiene to ensure we can all begin to enjoy a more normal way of life. I would urge everyone to remember the ongoing risk as they make decisions about their day-to-day activities.”
The council’s executive member for children’s services, councillor Catherine Gibbons said she is pleased with the outcome of the PHE results as it allowed schools and nurseries to ‘reopen when they feel ready to do so’ and said the council will support each school to decide ‘when it is right’ for them to open.
She added: “Each setting’s circumstances is different and some will be able to introduce social distancing measures more easily than others.
“I have been hugely impressed by the efforts of the teaching community, support staff, parents and pupils have gone to over the past three months to ensure that education has continued in extremely difficult circumstances.
“This is not the end to the school year that any of us would have wished for, but I hope that the next few weeks gives at least some of our pupils the opportunity to return to lessons and to see their friends in the real world for the first time in many weeks.”
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