This article was published by Liam Thorp and the Liverpool Echo whose authorship we acknowledge.
Liverpool’s schools boss and the city’s public health director have written to parents with a key Covid update ahead of the new school term.
Thousands of children and young people will be returning to the classroom this week, with concerns that this could lead to surging rates of the virus.
Government rules, brought in on August 16, state people under the age of 18 years and six months – or those who are fully vaccinated – are no longer legally required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for Covid.
Instead such people will be advised to take a PCR test.
Writing to parents to outline the new policies ahead of the new term, Liverpool Council Director of Children’s Services and Public Health Director Matt Ashton said: “Regardless of age or vaccination status, anyone who develops any of the three main Covid-19 symptoms – new continuous cough, fever and/or loss of or change in taste or smell – must get a PCR test as soon as possible and isolate until the result is available. People who get a positive PCR test must continue to isolate as usual.”
The letter makes clear vaccinations are currently available to people aged 16 or above and in certain other circumstances, adding: “This may change, and if so we will be back in touch.”
The letter adds vaccination uptake in Liverpool is significantly lower than the national average.
Currently 88% of eligible UK residents have had a first jab, while 77% have had both, while in Liverpool those respective figures are 69% and 57%.
The letter states: “We strongly encourage all eligible Liverpool residents to come forward for their 1st and 2nd dose of the vaccine to prevent new restrictions being imposed on the city.”
Speaking directly to parents and carers, it adds: “If your child develops any of the main symptoms, you must arrange for them to have a PCR test as soon as possible.
“Your child should self-isolate immediately and they should not attend school.
“Please contact the school by phone to inform us your child has Covid-19 symptoms and you are awaiting a test.”
The letter adds that if Covid is confirmed for a child, they must self-isolate for a period of 10 days after the onset of their symptoms or 10 days after their test day if they are asymptomatic.
It adds: “Self isolation means your child should not go to school, attend any school activities or visit a friend’s house. They should not visit any public places, use public transport or go out to exercise. You should not have visitors into the home except those providing essential care.”
Parents are asked to contact the school by phone to inform them if their child has Covid, adding: “It is really important that you let us know if your child has confirmed Covid-19 so we can monitor the number of children with Covid-19 across the school.”
The letter confirms the new rules which mean that if a child aged under 18 years and six months does not have any symptoms, they will not have to isolate as a contact of someone with Covid-19.
They will be advised to take a PCR test instead.
If a child has a positive result from a Lateral Flow test, they should isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test as soon as possible.
The letter also covers plans for Covid-19 testing in Liverpool’s secondary schools.
It states: “All secondary school pupils (year 7 and above) should receive two on-site Lateral Flow device tests, 4 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term.
“We are also advising that students take a Lateral Flow test before returning to school for onsite testing.
“Secondary school pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.
“By ensuring your child correctly carries out the Lateral Flow tests, it will be easier to spot asymptomatic spread amongst pupils. A positive Lateral Flow test should always be followed up with a PCR test and the person testing should isolate until the results are back.”
There are no plans at this point to test nursery and primary school pupils.
Mr Reddy said: “It’s so important that we all work together to support the amazing staff who work in our schools so they can open safely, we know we simply can’t afford for our young people to miss another single day of their education, their and our city’s future depends on it.”