Schools working 'extremely hard' as pupils return amid Omicron surge

Alex Burghart, a junior education minister, has said the government was committed to ensuring schools open in January

Secondary school pupils are required to wear masks when they return this week - Credit: PA

Schools across North Somerset are working 'extremely hard' to reduce the risk of Covid spreading, according to health chiefs.

As schools return this week from the Christmas break, headteachers and leadership teams continue to implement the government’s guidance to keep classrooms as safe as possible.

This includes more cleaning, extra ventilation and increased hygiene measures, such as hand washing. 
From the start of term, secondary school pupils will also have to wear face coverings in the classroom, as well as when they move around the school.

Testing for all teachers, staff, and pupils from secondary school age will continue twice a week this term, with everyone in secondary schools also asked to take a test just before or on their first day back.

North Somerset Council executive member for children’s services and lifelong learning, Cllr Catherine Gibbons, said: “Schools across North Somerset have worked extremely hard to reduce the risk of Covid in the classroom and make sure children are able to keep learning face-to-face.

“We know most children are better off at school, so I thank everyone involved for their work to make this possible.”

If Covid numbers do start to climb in schools, amid a surge of the Omicron variant across the country, North Somerset Council’s public health team offers support and advice to help reduce risks.

Executive member for health, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “Our public health teams work closely with schools to help lower the risk of outbreaks. This might include extra testing, combining classes or moving back to online learning.

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“But, this will only be done as a last resort as the priority is to keep schools open.”

Director of public health, Matt Lenny, said: “There are a lot of winter illnesses circulating at the moment, not just Covid, so we encourage those who aren’t feeling well to stay home to reduce the risk of spreading any illness.

“Anyone who has a temperature, new continuous cough, or change to their sense of taste or smell, must get a PCR test. 

"Rapid tests, where you process the results yourself, should only be used if you don’t have symptoms.

“The most important thing you can do to protect your school community from Covid is to stay at home if you have symptoms and get a PCR test straightaway.”

PCR tests can be booked online at or by calling 119.