Dear Parents and Carers
I am writing to you today following correspondence from Wigan Council and the Director of Public health. Following this guidance we will be introducing wearing face coverings in school from Monday 7th June to help reduce transmission of the virus in school. We will be continuing with all our other COVID secure measures.
Please see below the local position statement that was shared with us yesterday Friday 4th May.
Mr J Grant
Wigan Council and the Director of Public statement
Please find below a local position statement that sets out further information and the rationale for this reintroduction:
Across Greater Manchester, case rates have increased considerably in all boroughs in the last fortnight, with the exception of Bolton where rates have remained very high. All GM boroughs are within the top 20 nationally, and 9 of the top 20 MSOAs are in GM. At present, Wigan is the 22nd highest borough in the country in terms of prevalence.
The doubling time (the number of days it takes for the number of COVID-19 cases to double) for all boroughs in GM is approximately 1 week (with the exception of Bolton where rates are reducing). This exponential rise in cases is reflective of the high transmissibility of the Delta variant (previously known as the Indian variant) as well as increased mixing and movement within and between areas linked to the relaxation of lockdown measures.
All areas of GM now have a high probability of being in an epidemic phase, meaning that we are seeing an exponential rise in prevalence.
The Delta variant is now the dominant variant and this variant is highly transmissible, meaning that there is high potential for further increases in rates. Sustained high prevalence increases the risk that new variants of concern could emerge. Whilst high prevalence in a younger population is less likely to be associated with high mortality there is high potential for other adverse impacts such as increased incidence of long COVID and missed/disrupted education.The majority of outbreaks reported are in schools, and some of these are reporting significant numbers of positive cases. These are currently being managed locally. COVID demand on the system is increasing again and the resilience of the system is becoming a greater concern particularly with the increased impacts associated with Delta.
GM Directors of Public Health believe there is a very real risk that a reduction in mitigations in schools will contribute significantly to spread of the Delta variant, and lead to significant increases in transmission as the new variant gains dominance. As a result, we have secured permissions from the Government to, until the end of the summer term, reintroduce the use of face coverings and on-site lateral flow testing in secondary schools and colleges as required in response to rising rates.
In relation to the use of face coverings in Wigan, schools and colleges Kate Ardern – Director of Public Health is now recommending that, where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises. As before, some pupils will be exempt from wearing face coverings, and schools should take this into account. Further information on face coverings, including exemptions, can be found via this link.