The return to school may lead to an 'uptick' in cases across the UK, according to health officials. 

In a press briefing yesterday, January 11, Wiltshire Public Health Director Kate Blackburn said Covid cases have not reached their peak yet but would be ‘delighted’ to be ‘proved wrong’. 

Mrs Blackburn said ‘it is too early to say’ what the impact on regional Covid cases from schools starting is but that the country might soon see an ‘uptick’ in cases.

Covid case rates for those aged between five and 19 are lower than in older age groups, according to the latest Public Health data, but an increase may be seen particularly amongst those who are unvaccinated.

In regard to the 12-15 age group who became eligible for a second jab in December 2021, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG Director of Nursing and Quality Gill May said: “It’s vitally important that our families do not hold off coming forward to get their second vaccine because we know that two doses are very much needed to get that level of protection.”

Covid cases in Wiltshire schools 

In the face of Omicron, a highly transmissive Covid variant, the government introduced new Covid rules in schools at the start of 2022.

Mask wearing became mandatory and secondary schools had to set up Covid testing facilities

Wiltshire Public Health Director Kate Blackburn took the time to thank local schools for their ‘hard work and support’.

She said: “I have no doubt their Christmas break was interrupted by having to ensure they were kept abreast of the most recent information and actually the return to schools has gone really well.”

'My one hope is for as normal a year as possible.'

Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury started their Spring term this week by testing each year group from oldest to youngest between January 10-11. 

Out of nearly 1200 students, they recorded only four positive lateral flow tests through at-school testing and have only 17 cases of students isolating at home. 

On wearing face coverings, Headmaster Stuart Smallwood said that ‘compliance is very high’. 

A mask wearing policy has been in place since late September when the school experienced a spike in cases, Dr Smallwood saying: “We will do everything we need to do to keep the school open.”

On his hopes for this academic year in the face of previous disruptions to learning, Dr Smallwood said: “My one hope is for as normal a year as possible.”

In particular, he emphasised the importance that exams go ahead, particularly for those aged 17 to 18 who are in their final year of sixth form, many of whom were not able to take their GCSEs.

“Our students are pretty engaged with learning and they desperately need the summer exams,” he said.

“I think they feel that too because they don’t want to be the generation where people look at them and say, you’re a bit different aren’t you because you didn’t do the tests.”

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