This coming Monday 8 March sees the first step in the roadmap out of lockdown with the return to school of children in the borough. Our case rates are thankfully still coming down and for the week ending 28 February Ealing has 100 cases per 100,000 population.
We are unfortunately still the highest in London and pressure on our NHS acute services remains high so we should continue to be cautious and remember that all the other lockdown restrictions including the requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes remains in place until 29 March.
School pupils to return
Primary school pupils will be expected to attend school from Monday. There will be an additional new measure of staff testing (using twice weekly lateral flow tests) which will also help to identify infection and break chains of transmission.
High school pupils will be expected to attend school from 8th March; however, this will depend on individual school arrangements. Schools will be in touch with a date that pupils should return to school.
For high schools, there will be two new additional measures this term in line with government guidelines:
• Face coverings to be worn in classrooms and corridors/crowded spaces (unless exempt) where social distancing cannot be maintained. The wearing of face coverings in classrooms is being introduced for a limited time until Easter and will be reviewed at that point. Face coverings are an important measure to prevent airborne spread of the virus and we strongly encourage parental and pupil support with this.
• Regular testing of pupils and staff (twice weekly) to identify any infection early in order to break chains of transmission. We know that coronavirus can spread even when people do not have symptoms, so it is important that staff and students take part in this to protect the school community. On return to school, students will be supervised to take a rapid COVID test at the school test site three times (3-5 days apart) and then be given their own home testing kits to do at home.
Testing for parents
Parents of all school aged pupils, their childcare and support bubbles, will also be offered free lateral flow tests and are encouraged to start twice weekly testing as schools return.
Lateral Flow Device Tests can be obtained by:
• Ordering on-line rapid lateral flow home test kits
• Taking tests at one of Ealing’s Asymptomatic Community Testing Sites
• Collecting a supply of tests from one of the Local Testing Sites that provide that service near to your home or work: Check on the Council website to find your nearest covid-19 rapid test site
68,000 vaccinated in Ealing so far
The virus is still around, and until most of the population gets vaccinated, – we’ve vaccinated over 68,000 vulnerable people in the borough so far – we still need to follow the public health rules to prevent another surge in infection rates. It is really important that we all continue to observe the hands – space – face rules especially at school drop off and pick up times.
For parents if your child, or anyone in your household, develops symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss or change in taste or smell), or if anyone is identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must not send your child to school.
You must all stay at home and the person with symptoms should get tested as soon as possible. Apply for a test online or call 119. If you are self-isolating, you may also be eligible for a self-isolation payment.
Due to a small number of cases of South African strain of coronavirus in Ealing, Ealing residents who do not have any symptoms but need to leave home for any essential reason during lockdown are being asked to get a test at one of the community test sites over the next month.
This includes bi-weekly tests for people who need to work outside their home during lockdown or a one-off test if they need to leave home for any essential reason (such as shopping). People who are shielding do not need to leave home to get a test at these sites. If anyone tests positive at these test sites, they will need to isolate and get a PCR test at one of our PCR test sites.
Thank you to school staff
Can I thank all school staff for the heroic work that you are doing to get our children safely back into school and for everyone who has responded to our call to get a rapid test and who are continuing to follow the current lockdown rules that remain in place until 29 March. A big Thank you.
One final heads-up – This year will see a once-in-a-decade event, as the national census comes to your door. The last was carried out in 2011, so the next census is due to happen on 21 March 2021. Look out for details about how to fill out the online census survey that will come in the post shortly.