Schools across North Somerset have been advised to delay opening on Monday due to coronavirus outbreak at Weston General Hospital.
North Somerset Council has contacted all schools in the district advising them to delay re-opening until Monday, June 8 as a ‘precautionary measure.’
The hospital is expected to stay closed for ‘at least a week, possibly longer.’
The Government has given the go ahead for primary schools, which have been closed for weeks due to the lockdown, to go back on Monday (June 1).
Council bosses said that to date, there is no evidence that the outbreak of coronavirus at Weston General Hospital has spread beyond the staff and patients already identified.
A full analysis of the pattern of cases across the district is now being carried out by public health experts before the authority will make a decision on whether to advise schools to return.
A council spokesman said: “To date, there is no evidence that the outbreak of coronavirus at Weston General Hospital has spread beyond the staff and patients already identified.
“A comprehensive data set is required from University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust so that full analysis on the pattern of cases in North Somerset can be completed.
“This analysis will be done by Public Health England, who will also include their intelligence about other cases in the wider community.
“The council has taken the view that it is best to wait until all the data has been received and the analysis completed before schools re-open to wider groups of pupils.”
(Image: Copyright Unknown)
Some schools across the district have remained open during the pandemic for keyworker and vulnerable children.
None of those which have remained open have seen recorded outbreaks of coronavirus.
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These schools will remain open as normal.
The spokesman added: “Schools will stay open for vulnerable children and key worker children as they have been throughout the period of lockdown. “That approach has been in place throughout the current restrictions and there have been no recorded outbreaks of coronavirus in schools in North Somerset.
“However, the introduction of new groups of pupils and the associated increase in parents and carers coming into school settings could increase the possibility of the virus spreading.”
Council chiefs added that the delay in opening would give schools extra time to ensure they have all necessary measures in place to enable them to open safely to all pupils while also protecting staff.
Mike Bell, deputy leader and executive member for public health at North Somerset Council said: “We are encouraging schools to stay closed for a further week.
“We think it is sensible wait until we have a clearer picture of how the virus might be spreading in our community before they open their doors to a wider group of pupils and parents.
“There is currently no evidence to suggest any increased risk of infection in the community as a result of the outbreak at the hospital.
“However, we need to have sight of all the data from the hospital alongside community indicators so that our public health team and colleagues in Public Health England can review the full implications of the outbreak.
“This is purely a precautionary measure, but we want to be satisfied that the work is complete before we advise schools to re-open more widely.”
Councillor Catherine Gibbons, executive member for children’s services said: “I have asked for this delay and it is right that schools push-back opening while we seek assurances that there is no increased risk of infection from community spread.
“We will continue to support our schools with the decisions they make about when the time is right for them to re-open – each setting’s circumstances is different. Ultimately the decision rests with the school’s leadership and governing body.”
The hospital closed its doors on Monday.
A comprehensive programme of testing has now been carried out on staff and patients.