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Confusion over school close contact policy

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By Euan Maxwell
Confusion over school close contact policy

NEW coronavirus guidance on close contacts in schools “doesn’t make any sense”, a local mum has complained.

Parents of pupils were emailed by Dumfries and Galloway Council on Monday and informed that, in line with new Scottish Government guidance, day-today activities in schools will no longer generate any close contacts.

An attachment to the email read: “No longer will whole classes be asked to isolate when a classmate has tested positive. Individuals who sit next to a positive case will not be deemed as close contacts either.

“Contacts through school will be rare. It is only contact in social settings for prolonged periods that will now create close contacts (e.g. sleepover, visiting a friend’s house, kissing, etc.). This is where we know there is a higher risk of transmission.”

Sarah Craig, whose child attends primary school in the region, expressed concern at the change and called the new policy “irresponsible”.

She added: “How am I supposed to keep people around me safe? I make sure I do my weekly testing and everything, but I would definitely avoid going to see someone if I knew my son had been in contact with someone that week with covid.

“How are we supposed to stop the spread if we’re not even made aware of it? As a parent, we send our children somewhere to be safe and I’m sending him somewhere that potentially isn’t safe.”

As covid infection rates rise steadily across the region again – with 909 new positive cases reported in Dumfries and Galloway in the last week – Sarah is worried about sending her son to school and not being notified if they come into contact with a pupil who has contracted the virus.

She said: “I just don’t understand why it’s one rule for schools, and one rule for everything else. Covid doesn’t disappear as soon as you go through the school gates.

“They’re playing with the pandemic – we went into a full lockdown and there’s a reason we went into lockdown, which is that it is unsafe.”

The mum added that as classmates are no longer considered close contacts, she will take matters into her own hands and inform parents of pupils in her son’s classes if he tests positive.

And she asked: “What’s the point in track and trace if we’re not even using it? Why are they doing this now, especially when our numbers in Dumfries and Galloway are so high? You’d think they’d be more vigilant.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council was contacted for comment.

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