Department of Public Health North East: A message to parents and carers as pupils return to school

Department of Public Health North East: A message to parents and carers as pupils return to school

April 14th, 2021:

The Department of Public Health HSE North East have been working closely with schools in the North East, to support schools in providing a safe environment for children and young people.
Returning to school is really important for our children and young people’s learning, social skills and well-being. Schools provide stability, a sense of achievement and a rich learning environment for children and young people. It is important that our children and young people are back at school, but if we are to keep them there and avoid further disruption, we must continue to comply with all of the public health advice and minimise contact with anyone outside of our households.

As children and young people return to school, the Department of Public Health HSE North East are advising parents and carers not to organise parties, sleepovers and visits to other people’s houses and asking them to be conscious of public health guidelines during school runs and pick-ups at school gates.
These actions increase the risk of spreading the virus without knowing it and the more the virus spreads the greater the risk of new strains taking hold. Even if you have had the vaccine, you still need to keep following public health guidelines.
Dr Sean Denyer, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, Department of Public Health HSE North East said: “As the normality of the daily school routine returns, it is important that we do not also see a return to playdates, car-pooling, coffee gatherings and birthday parties. These social gatherings are unfortunately contributing to the spread of COVID-19 among children, young people and subsequently in schools.”

“The classroom is a controlled environment in terms of hand hygiene, physical and seating arrangements, appropriate ventilation and environmental cleaning. School staff wear face coverings and secondary school students wear face coverings unless exempt for health reasons. Secondary school students should wear a face covering on transport to and from school.”

“Schools have been doing a heroic job during the pandemic, and parents and carers can help support them to decrease the number of COVID-19 cases in the region. We need now, more than ever, to continue to follow the public health guidelines and keep everyone safe. Children and young people should not be mixing with others outside of school time. Please talk to your child or young person about the importance of not gathering in groups and adhering to public health advice,”Dr Denyer added.

Make sure anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or have been asked to isolate due to potential exposure to the virus do not attend school. The most important action we can take to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 is to follow the public health advice:
– ensure regular hand washing,
– practice good respiratory hygiene,
– keep two metres between yourself and other people,
– avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth,
– wear a mask,
– and download the COVID Tracker App.

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