There’s been a “rollercoaster in education” in Hounslow borough's schools as more than 200 cases of coronavirus have been recorded since the start of term in September, it has been revealed.
Hounslow’s public health director Kelly O’Neill said there had been “ripple of consequences” from the numbers of staff and children who had tested positive for the virus, forcing many to self-isolate at home.
She told members of the Health and Wellbeing Board on November 4 that 145 children had tested positive across 40 schools, while 82 members of staff had been confirmed to have the virus in 31 schools.
“It has resulted in quite a significant number of children who have had to isolate for 14 days from their last contact of an individual case, and that has caused quite a lot of disruption not only to the operating of the schools but a bit of a rollercoaster in education,” Ms O’Neill said.
But she added that many schools are taking sensible approaches to interpreting guidelines as time goes on.
She said: “From the outset what we were finding was whole year groups were being sent home in response to a single case, but as we’ve learn how to do risk assessments a little bit more effectively, we’ve been able to hone down, particularly to those contacts where there has been a true contact, so fewer children have had to miss school.”
Overall she said out of data collected from 71 per cent of schools, pupils’ attendance has been 81 per cent despite the changes.
The health boss also relayed that 28 care homes had recorded outbreaks, as well as 17 workplaces in the borough.
She added,“Through the pandemic, the information we have access to has improved significantly in terms of the scope of the information and our ability to use it in order to inform some of the work we’re doing.”
From the first wave of coronavirus, Ms O’Neill was able to share that out of 494 people from the borough who were hospitalised from February to August, most patients were from Hounslow Central (55), while 62 per cent were men.
Currently more than 4,000 people are week are being tested in Hounslow she said.
As of November 2, the weekly rate stands at 172 per 100,000 of the population – the sixth highest rate in London.
Ms O’Neill however said there are still challenges in receiving lagged information from Public Health England.
Local contact tracing is expected to be rolled out as of November 7, with a target to contact 90 per cent of people within 48 hours of testing positive for coronavirus, to make sure they are following the rules and have the support they need.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
November 13, 2020