Schools have no chance of maintaining social distancing says Leeds MP Alex Sobel

A Leeds MP has cast doubt on schools' ability to maintain social distancing in classrooms - after a bit of a whirlwind experience trying to look after kids at a birthday party.

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 4:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th September 2020, 4:48 pm
If one child in a bubble gets coronavirus, they will all get it says Leeds MP Alex Sobel

Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel decried the government's plans for schools and social distancing after attempting to look after a group of five nine and 10-year-old boys for a birthday party.

He expressed concerns that 'if one child in a bubble gets it, they will all get it'.

He said: "I’ve just been looking after 5 nine and ten year old boys for a birthday party for the last 4 hours.

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"The schools have no chance in maintaining social distancing! If one child in a bubble gets it they will all get it! Also I need a lie down in a dark room with a glass of wine!"

What are the social distancing rules in Leeds schools?

The Government released guidelines for how schools might enforce social distancing between their pupils when classroom doors reopen.

The guidance is long, with suggestions of measures designed to stop the spread of Covid-19 ranging from regular hand-washing, to ensuring tissue bins are regularly emptied.

Here are some of the changes being advised:

ensure that children and young people are in the same small groups at all times each day, and different groups are not mixed during the day, or on subsequent days

ensure that the same teacher(s) and other staff are assigned to each group and, as far as possible, these stay the same during the day and on subsequent days, recognising for secondary and college settings there will be some subject specialist rotation of staff

ensure that wherever possible children and young people use the same classroom or area of a setting throughout the day, with a thorough cleaning of the rooms at the end of the day. In schools and colleges, you may want to consider seating students at the same desk each day if they attend on consecutive days

follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance

ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments

clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, bannisters, more regularly than normal

ensure that all adults and children frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly, clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing, are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose, and use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)

ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently

consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition

ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day

where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units

prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation

get in touch with public sector buying organisation partners (for example ESPO, YPO, NEPO) about proportionate supplies of soap, anti-bacterial gel and cleaning products if needed

there is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in an educational or childcare setting