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Face masks advised for city schools as Covid figures rise

The Directors of Public Health and of Education in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have recommended that secondary schools reintroduce measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including face-coverings.
school test
School students in Peterborough have been asked to continue following Covid measures

The advice – which includes increased social distancing and more mask wearing in schools – comes as three Cambridgeshire districts feature in the table of those with the fastest rising COVID-19 rates of all 333 English local authority areas. 

Data shows more than 50% of recent infections in all areas of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are in the 0 -17 age group – linked to the return of students to school in early September. But recently a slight increase has also been seen in the older age groups as infections start to spread into families. 

East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Fenland all feature in the top 20 list of areas where infection rates are rising most quickly - with all three areas showing higher rates of infections than both the East of England and England averages to September 28.  

Only Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire are currently below the regional or England average. Peterborough also continues to have high rates. 

As a result, recommendations have been made to the headteachers of all secondary schools across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to increase prevention measures, where necessary, and help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

At least one school sent out an email this evening to parents advising them of the changes.

This advice covers the next three weeks until half term and includes: 

  • Secondary schools to reintroduce face coverings in communal spaces, but not in classrooms. Primary school staff may wish to consider the same arrangements 
  • Social distancing for staff within school buildings, including in shared spaces such as staff rooms. It is also recommended that staff meetings are held virtually if possible 
  • All visitors to schools must wear face coverings in school buildings 
  • All non-essential events where parents visit schools are moved to virtual 
  • Secondary schools should promote and monitor uptake of twice weekly LFD testing and COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff and pupils. Primary school staff should also be doing this and staff need to be reminded of its importance. 

The position is being reviewed on a daily basis and all schools should continue to do twice weekly testing. The additional measures will be withdrawn if the position with cases improves. 

Director of Education for Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council Jonathan Lewis said: “Our aim at all times is to keep schools open and to continue normal education wherever we can. That is why we are recommending these measures to protect more vulnerable pupils and staff from contracting the virus and also potentially taking it home to others. The vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds has now begun in our schools and we have been pleased with its uptake so far as this will offer further protection.” 

Jyoti Atri, director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough added: “We know that younger children are less likely to have a poor outcome after being affected by the virus, but they live in families within communities where there are others who may be more clinically vulnerable.

"These are sensible precautionary measures that I would recommend are followed. The vaccination campaign, currently being rolled out in schools, will offer school children, teachers and families greater protection.”