Hove school praised for covid response

Cardinal Newman Catholic School


A school’s response to a case of covid-19 among its staff was praised as an example of “best practice”.

Acting director of families, children and learning, Deb Austin told Brighton and Hove City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, how the case at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in The Upper Drive, “showed how well the situation responded.

During the virtual meeting on Tuesday 8 September, she said the teaching assistant’s positive result on Friday had led to 47 children and four staff going into isolation for 14 days.

While councillors met, the school informed parents another staff member had tested positive and more pupils were being asked to self-isolate.

Ms Austin said: “The situation was really well managed by the headteacher.

“They have looked at any learning that could be taken from their experience and shared that across the secondary head network to promote best practice.

“We’ve also had excellent support from public health colleagues both from the council and the Public Health England health protection team.”

On Tuesday, 8 September, 20,816 pupils were in schools in the city. Of these 13,275 were in primary schools and 7,398 at secondary schools. Not all year groups in all schools are currently in school.

Ms Austin said a range of measures are in place to protect school children, including class bubbles, staggered starts, and children attending school wearing their PE kit so they will not have to change.

The board heard from the city’s director of public health, Alistair Hill, how the majority of new covid-19 cases in Brighton and Hove are transmitted between households.

Tracking and tracing information provided by people testing positive for covid-19 in the city verified new cases have occurred where households mixed and often people had travelled abroad.

There have not been significant outbreaks linked with restaurants, pubs or other workplaces.

While individuals at some workplaces have tested positive, the virus hasn’t been spreading to colleagues or customers. 

Mr Hill said: “The most common categories of exposure for contacts who have been exposed to cases remain household, visitors and visiting friends and family, rather than any particular venue or outside locations within the city.

“We have seen cases with a history of recent foreign travel, countries with relatively high prevalence compared with the UK. From people returning from summer holidays.”

However, the authority does not have any legal powers to ensure people quarantine themselves when required.

Mr Hill told the board the city is currently ranked 134 out of 149 local authorities in England, for covid-19 infections, putting Brighton and Hove in the lowest 15 areas in the country.

Nineteen cases were confirmed in the city in the week up to Sunday 6 September.

However, Mr Hill said there is a delay getting results back, which can mean the current increase in cases is not immediately reflected in the number of positives showing up on the city’s weekly graph.

Mr Hill said: “There is a note of caution where it appears to be coming down. You can’t really draw conclusions from the last few days of information.

“What we have seen is that sometimes when new cases come out, they fill in some of those gaps in the previous week.

“I believe we’ve also had cases up to one or two weeks late come through.”

The council is monitoring the situation daily.

The highest number of new cases recorded since early June occurred on Friday, 28 August, with nine new positive tests.

As of Sunday 6 September, there were a total of 907 cases confirmed in the city, a rate of 312 per 100,000 population.

Mr Hill told the board no single area of Brighton and Hove shows up as an infection hot spot at the moment, as the infection has spread evenly across all council wards in the city.

In March, the majority of cases occurred among the elderly, shifting to people in their 30s, 40s and 50s in the summer.

Now the largest group with new infections is the 15-29 age bracket.

There are more infections among women, who account for 56 per cent of cases in Brighton and Hove.

The city council’s page webpage showing key statistics on covid-19 infections in Brighton and Hove has had 76,000 views since its launch in the early summer new.brighton-hove.gov.uk/covid-19-key-statistics-brighton-hove/confirmed-cases

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