March 5, 2021 10.23 am This story is over 31 months old

Parents told to keep to social distancing as schools return

Concern over adult infections

Lincolnshire parents are being warned not to change their behaviour on the playground as schools go back next week.

Local health bosses are concerned that adults dropping their children off at school will take the opportunity to gather with others, but say the social distancing and lockdown rules have not changed.

They expect infection rates to rise as pupils return to the classroom, but are not overly concerned about children, who are usually only mildly affected, and praised the return of youngsters to the classroom.

Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Professor Derek Ward, however, said the chances of catching a stronger form of coronavirus was higher in adults.

The infection rate in school age children is currently 54 per 100,000 population, compared to just under 70 for those aged over 60 and 103 for the county as a whole.

“The bigger risk is that parents will meet each other around the school, or because their children are together in school will think “oh it doesn’t matter, I don’t have to stay away” and they won’t follow the guidance,” said Professor Ward.

“So my biggest concern, the really strong message is, we are a long way from being out of this.

“I know some print media seems to want to say that we’re through it, it’s all hunky dory — but it’s not.

“While it’s really, really important that children and young people get back to education, it’s equally as important that all the parents carry on as they are today – they stay at home, they work from home if they can, and they do not change their behaviours around their children’s friends, families or their wider friendship groups as adults in any way shape or form.”

Evidence suggests children are less susceptible to the virus, and if they do catch it usually only have a mild form.

Professor Ward said this meant hospitalisations or impact on general NHS services was less likely.

The government’s roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown includes a five-week step to analyse the impact of the return to the classroom.

Infection rates in general continue to hover between the 100-130 range and health chiefs expect this to continue.

South Holland District Council remains around fifth in the country due to a series of workplace and care home outbreaks, as well as the small number of people in the district – but bosses say it has come down.

Concerns remains around workplace infections including low-income workers.