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94 per cent of primary and secondary school children in Southend returned to the classroom last week following the easing of national COVID-19 restrictions.
Schools returned fully on Monday March 8 and data shows primary schools saw a 94 per cent return, and secondary schools saw 93.5 per cent return, despite some secondary schools staggering start dates.
Key to this full return has been rapid flow tests as some people are asymptomatic, which means they don’t have any of the known symptoms such as a temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss of taste or smell.
Across Friday 5 to Monday March 8 there were more than 7,000 LFD tests booked in the public and school testing sites across Southend-on-Sea. This is after parents received a letter from Krishna Ramkhelawon, director of public health for Southend urging them to get themselves and their children tested, in preparation for the return to school and to help stop asymptomatic people unknowingly spreading the virus.
Cllr Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “I am so pleased that we have seen such a successful first week back at school for the majority of the Borough’s children.
“Getting back into the classroom is the first step to ‘getting back to normal’ following this last lockdown and I know for many children, and their parents, it probably couldn’t come soon enough.
“Now we need to keep up the good work and protect everyone we come into contact with; please keep getting rapid flow tests, especially if you don’t have symptoms. Please wear a face covering if you are able to. Wash your hands, keep socially distanced and follow any other safety advice issued by your individual school.”
Now students have fully returned, secondary schools are running their own on-site testing programmes with Council support. As part of this, St John Ambulance have kindly provided four mobile testing sites to use at three secondary schools, to support the school testing programme and keep them COVID-safe.
Southend is also one of the only authorities in the country to have set up a school-only LFD testing site to support schools, which is located at Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre in Eastern Avenue.
Krishna Ramkhelawon, said: “It is incredibly important that we continue the safety measures, the most important of which is testing.
“We must all get tested regularly; when our children are attending school, when we are going to work, when we are visiting the supermarket for milk. It is the only way to make sure we are not unknowingly spreading the virus and the only way to protect our loved ones until the vaccination programme is further advanced.”
There are public community LFD testing sites at University Square, Southend, St Aiden’s Church in Leigh-on-Sea and Shoebury Youth Centre in Shoeburyness.
You can book a COVID-19 test at www.southend.gov.uk/gettested.
For trusted information about coronavirus, please visit: www.southend.gov.uk/coronavirus