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Council response to Covid-19 outbreaks in Pennyland and other Highland schools

By David G Scott

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Highland Council has issued a statement through its chief officer after a third of schools across Highland in primary, secondary and ELC settings have been affected by positive Covid-19 cases or localised outbreaks.

Secondary schools in Grantown, Kingussie, Culloden and Lochaber currently have a significant number of year groups self-isolating. Aviemore, Pennyland and Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar are some of the primary schools that are affected by outbreaks, with partial closures of Aviemore Primary, Pennyland and a one day closure of Alvie Primary required.

Schools are communicating with all parents/carers under the guidance of NHS Health Protection Team.

Highland Council's chief officer for education, Nicky Grant, says it is vital that parents follow advice.
Highland Council's chief officer for education, Nicky Grant, says it is vital that parents follow advice.

NHS Highland health protection have advised a number of pupils and staff across the Highland region to self-isolate for either 10 days or until a negative PCR test result is confirmed in order to stem the rapid transmission of the virus.

Executive chief officer for education and learning, Nicky Grant said: “The Highland Council continues to work in partnership with NHS Highland’s Health Protection to manage a number of Covid-19 outbreaks in school settings.

"It is vital that parents/carers and pupils take protective measures set out for schools and follow the advice from the Health Protection Team on receiving any letters about local cases. Online learning or home learning material will be available for those who are isolating but, otherwise, remain well.”

Those required to self-isolate with no Covid-19 symptoms will continue with learning at home, the Education and Learning Directorate will support schools in delivering a robust home learning programme.

As well as being vigilant for symptoms, families and school pupils and staff are advised to remain cautious and continue to take all necessary precautions as directed by NHS:

  • Wear face masks (unless exempt)
  • Regular handwashing
  • Testing using LFD tests when you have no symptoms, twice-weekly is recommended

No one should attend school if they are experiencing symptoms. Covid-19 symptoms are typically:

  • A new continuous cough
  • High temperature or fever
  • Loss or change in taste or smell

People with Covid-19 can present with a wide range of symptoms including headache, sore muscles and joints and tiredness, sore throat, cold like symptoms and diarrhoea and vomiting. Anyone that becomes unwell should isolate immediately and seek a PCR test.

Education committee chair, Cllr John Finlayson said: “The exponential increase in cases, while to be expected due to the recent relaxation of measures, is having a significant impact on our education settings. We urge that communities remain vigilant and everyone takes the necessary precautions and does what they can to slow the spread of the virus.”

He added: “We understand that a high proportion (81 per cent) of over 16-year-olds in Highland are now vaccinated and this is excellent news and will hopefully lessen any impact of the virus in time.”

Covid-19 Self-Isolation Support Grant: The Scottish Government is providing a grant of £500 to people who are in receipt of low-income benefits and who will lose income as a result of being required to self-isolate by Test and Protect to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Contact the council's Scottish Welfare Fund Team on 0800 083 1887 or the Welfare Support Team on 0800 090 1004. You can find out more about the grant on the Highland Council website at www.highland.gov.uk/info/20016/coronavirus/940/self-isolation_support_grant

Related article:

Over 1000 coronavirus cases in 60 Highland schools in a week

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