Hertfordshire parents urged to stand further apart at school gates to halt Covid spread

Hands, face and space are at the heart of government Covid-19 advice

Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 11:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 11:42 am

Parents across Hertfordshire are being warned not to stand too close at the end of the school day – to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Maintaining a distance of two metres – and wearing a face mask – are at the heart of government Covid-19 advice.

But at a meeting of the county council’s cabinet on Monday, November 23, executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris drew attention to parents standing too close at the school gates.

Coronavirus stock image

He said he had seen parents failing to social distance. And – after publicly recognising the work of school staff – he put out a plea for greater social distancing at the end of the school day.

“‘Please please keep a social distance when you are at the school gates waiting for your children to come out’,” he said.

“I have seen a number of schools where it is not being maintained – but it is important that they do so.”

Cllr Douris made the comments as the cabinet considered the latest report on the county council’s response to Covid-19.

It was reported to that meeting that infection rates across the county appeared to have fallen from 173 per 100k over 7 days – to 163.

The number of cases in many district and borough areas, it was said, appeared to have levelled off or even fallen.

But there were, it was said, still some areas – such as East Herts and Hertsmere – where the number of cases were said to have increased, within the past few days.

Executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings suggested to the meeting that vaccination was likely to start in January – and maybe in a small way before Christmas.

And he said that if that happened it would “change the ball game quite considerably”.

But he said the number of infections in parts of the county were “still higher than we would like them to be – and in some cases stubbornly so”.

And he stressed the continuing need for social distancing, hand washing and, where appropriate, face coverings.

“I wanted to thank everybody who has played their part in making sure we keep this under some kind of control,” he told the cabinet.

“And at the same time I am sending a clear message out to those that aren’t – to make sure that they keep their distance, make sure they wear a face mask when appropriate, and ensure they follow hygiene like hand washing.

“This really is important – and even with the vaccine coming on line it will be some weeks and months before that is completed. So it is still important that people follow those guidelines.”

Leader of the council Cllr David Williams also took the opportunity to remind residents to self-isolate, if required to do so – as the PM currently is.

He highlighted the apparent decline in cases of Covid-19 recorded in the county, but questioned whether this really meant Hertfordshire had ‘turned a corner’.

“It’s by no means entirely clear that we have turned the corner,” he said.

“But I would like to think that this is the first very small marginal decline in our overall numbers.

“And hopefully it’s a reflection of all of the efforts that our residents have put in over the last three weeks, as we have been in lockdown.”

Attendance at secondary schools in Hertfordshire has dropped since the start of the autumn term, according to the county council’s latest Covid-19 response update.

Data shows that in mid-October 95 per cent of primary age pupils, on average, were attending school.

But in the secondary sector attendance was recorded at 90 per cent – with an average of one in 10 pupils absent each day.

According to the report the data shows that over the first six weeks of the autumn term the proportion of children attending secondary schools had ‘dropped’.

The report states: “This is partly as a result of the numbers self-isolating as a result of contact with a Covid-19 case either at school or in a community setting.

“Some 3.5 per cent of secondary-aged pupils are affected in this way.”