Covid marshals could be used outside schools to stem spread of virus

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said school outbreaks could be related to st

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said school outbreaks could be related to staff letting their guard down during coffee breaks. Picture: Norfolk County Council. Picture: Norfolk County Council/PA Wire/PA Images/Jane Barlow - Credit: Norfolk County Council/PA Wire/PA Images/Jane Barlow

Marshals could be used outside schools to make sure pupils stick to social distancing rules to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk’s director of public health Dr Louise Smith suggested the measure after telling a meeting that staff and pupils could be letting their guard down outside the classrooms.

There are currently 19 outbreaks in schools around the county, with two or more confirmed positive cases, where there is “reason to believe transmission happened at school”, she said.

She also said there were 144 “situations”, where a school had reported one case of Covid.

Five schools across are currently shut to all pupils.


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Speaking at Norfolk County Council’s scrutiny committee meeting yesterday, Dr Smith said: “We are getting a number of reports that Covid safety and security is maintained within classrooms but is not maintained in the same way in less regulated environments including staff rooms, playgrounds and the streets around the school gate.”

District councils’ Covid marshals would be the “obvious potential solution” for enforcing social distancing outside the gates, she suggested.

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Norwich City Council’s team of 20 Covid ‘support officers’ began patrols seven days a week last month. Taking a softly approach to encouraging shoppers and business owners to adhere to guidelines they are centred around the city centre. Hundreds of pupils being dropped off and picked up by parents whilst social distancing poses a challenge and Department for Education guidance suggests staggering start times, but this isn’t suitable for every school.

Commenting on the link between clusters in the community and outbreaks at schools, Dr Smith said it was “quite possible that as case numbers in the community go up, we will find more in schools”.

MORE: Concern after sudden surge in coronavirus cases in WymondhamDr Smith also told the meeting there were currently 162 people with the virus on general wards and 11 in intensive care.

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