Herts schools talk COVID-19 outbreak response, mask wearing and additional bus services ahead of September return

Schoolchildren will have to get used to the 'new normal' once school restarts in September. Picture:

Schoolchildren will have to get used to the 'new normal' once school restarts in September. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Schools in Hertfordshire have been quizzed on what their responses will be to localised outbreaks of coronavirus, the wearing of masks and the morning school run ahead of the planned September return.

Hertfordshire County Council says it is working closely with schools, Public Health England and central government guidelines to ensure a safe return.

For those pupils who use public transport to get to and from school, the county council says it has issued clear advice on the wearing of facial coverings.

For schoolchildren over the age of 11 who use public transport, the wearing of masks will be mandatory – unless they are medically exempt.

Schools have been briefed to ensure pupils wear, remove and dispose of those masks safely and properly.

There are also plans to provide an additional 70 buses and coaches for the school run, to greatly increase capacity on both public and educational-only bus routes.

The county council is also encouraging walking and cycling rather than taking a car, as it allows for more opportunities to socially distance.

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Schools in our area have also shared what their response would be should there be a coronavirus outbreak within the school or local area, ahead of their planned September return.

If there was an outbreak (two or more confirmed cases of the virus) within a school, any decision to close a school would rely on advice from the county council, Public Health England and central government.

Similarly, if there were two of more confirmed cases of the virus within a bubble – typically divided into year groups – then the entirety of that bubble may have to self-isolate.

Schools have also had to fill out risk assessment forms on the organisation or grouping – including how bubbles and staffing are grouped to support a consistent and safe return.

Tania Rawle, head of school standards and accountability at HCC, said: “Bubbles are a little bit bigger now in some schools compared to last term.

“Within bubbles you have to socially distance less, because you have a consistent group of people.

“The government has been really clear that schools will be the last things that should shut if there was a spike.

“We are working closely with Public Health colleagues to make sure we have sufficient support for schools and are developing systems should there be an outbreak or a spike in the area.”

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