Health chief’s appeal to ‘critical worker’ parents of school pupils

Published Wednesday, 13th January 2021

“Please keep your child at home rather than sending them to school if you possibly can.”

That’s the request to critical workers in Hartlepool from the town’s Director of Public Health Craig Blundred as the town battles against the new fast-spreading strain of the Coronavirus.

Under the national lockdown regulations, schools are only open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers – all other children are learning remotely.

But with Hartlepool rates having risen considerably in recent weeks, Mr Blundred is asking critical workers to keep their children at home as well if at all possible, to try to help stem the spread of the virus.

This message is also echoed by the Government in its guidance ‘Restricting Attendance During The National Lockdown - Schools’ published last week: “Parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can.”     

Mr Blundred explained: “Since the first lockdown last year, the Government has broadened the definition of who is a critical worker, which has meant that Hartlepool’s schools are seeing a much higher number of pupils in school this time around.

“Schools are doing an excellent job of keeping their premises COVID-safe. However, given that the new COVID variant is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible – meaning you are more likely to catch the virus and to pass it on – it stands to reason that the more children who are in a school, the greater the chance of them picking up the virus and spreading it.

“So to keep pupil numbers at school as low as possible to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading even further in Hartlepool, if there are any critical workers who are able to keep their children at home for remote learning, that would be very much appreciated.

“I fully appreciate that this may not be possible for a number of critical workers, but at a time when Hartlepool is battling major levels of a virus which spreads with alarming speed, it’s vital that we explore all possible avenues to try to bring the virus under control.”