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Staff and students at city schools urged to get Covid tests before weekend, as £1m in support to be given to families over holidays

Published: Thursday, 24th June 2021

Staff and students at city schools are being urged to ensure they have had a coronavirus test before the weekend. Plus, £1,019,837.57 allocated from Government grant to help families during holidays.

Staff and students at schools across Stoke-on-Trent are being urged to ensure they have had a coronavirus test before the weekend.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leaders have praised schools for the role their hard work has played in helping to limit the spread of the virus, but with cases of the new Delta variant now continuing to rise, schools and families are being reminded of how critical testing is.

It comes as the authority has been allocated £1,019,837.57 from the government’s Covid Local Support Grant to once again help families during the holidays.

The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 85 per 100,000 people, for the week 11 June – 17 June – a 71.7 per cent increase on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 2.5 per cent. Cases are spread widely across the city but hotspot areas are Hanley Park and Shelton.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “The rise in infection rates is concerning, but thankfully the number of cases in the city is still lower than national averages and lower than other neighbouring areas. This, in part, is down to the incredibly hard work so many schools across the city have been doing to ensure staff and students are tested regularly.

“But we have seen an outbreak in neighbouring Leek, and thousands of primary and secondary school-aged students are being tested in neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme. We’re asking all school staff and students to please ensure they have had a coronavirus test before the weekend. We know that one in three people who have the virus don’t display symptoms and we all need to continue to do everything we can to take this virus out of circulation.”

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “It’s really important that everyone in school continues to follow the ‘Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air’ guidance. We’re asking that students and staff restrict the number of people they have contact with, particularly people they don’t know well. We’re urging families to get home testing kits and for the whole family to be tested at least twice a week, and record their results online. We’re also reminding families that siblings of positive cases are not allowed in school. Everyone should get a test and isolate if they have any of the classic Covid symptoms. And everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are offered it.”

The authority’s success in being allocated further funding from the Covid Local Support Grant follows on from previous funding successes from the grant scheme. During Christmas, February half-term, Easter and May half-term holidays over the past six months the council issued more than 45,600 food vouchers to families totalling more than £1.2m.

Councillor Brown said: “We’re really pleased to have been allocated this funding and once again it will mean we can deliver more support to those who need it the most. The funding will be available from June to September, so it will cover the school summer holidays period.

“The government has said that this is the final extension of the grant scheme, and we will be once again be looking at ways we can use this money so that it helps as many residents as possible who need our support the most.”

Meanwhile, the council has revealed that the Community Health Champions initiative, a scheme it runs with community partner VAST, has so far attracted 16 recruits. The volunteers are now receiving their training so that they can go out into communities and support residents in listening to their health concerns.

Councillor Brown said: “This is such a great initiative and I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to recruit so many ‘champions’ so quickly – in just a couple of weeks. But we still need more. Community health champions will be sharing clear and accurate health information, and listen to and help to answer people’s concerns about the coronavirus and other health matters. They’re really important roles and can help make a real difference to the lives of local people.”

Residents interested in becoming a Community Health Champion can find out more by visiting https://chc.vast.org.uk/ or following @sothealthchamps on Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, with the rise in coronavirus cases, residents are being reminded of the critical importance of not only getting tested regularly but keeping vaccination appointments.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “We’re urging people with appointments for a vaccination to please use them. There has been a great uptake of the vaccine from people in the city, and the vaccination programme is led by the NHS which is doing a fantastic job in reaching so many people.

“The first dose should give protection from three-to-four weeks after you’ve had it, but you need two doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

“But if you miss your appointment, you’re not only stopping yourself from getting this crucial protection, you’re also stopping someone else from getting vaccinated and it could also mean that the vaccine itself is wasted. These tiny vials are so important for the health and wellbeing of us all for the future and are key in helping us to return our lives back to normal. So please do not be a DNA – did not attend – statistic. Keep your appointments.”

Anyone who has a Covid-19 vaccination appointment booked, but can't attend should reschedule via the ‘manage my bookings’ button on the National Booking System, or by calling 119. All adults aged 18 and over in England can now book their Covid-19 vaccine. People with a learning disability over the age of 16 are also now eligible for the vaccination. Please book yours as soon as possible by going to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/.