Good evening #Barnet It has been a while. Let us talk numbers, schools, enforcement and testing. Questions are always welcome, about anything.

The situation in Barnet is bad. Numbers of cases are very high. Test positivity rates are very high (means we are missing cases)
Hospitals packed. There are many more more people in hospital than during the first wave. 1 in 7 drs and 1 in 5 ICU nurses are showing signs of PTSD. 37 people died of Covid in Barnet last week. 583 since the start of this. Nationally we topped 1,500 deaths today, 100,000 total
It is grim. There is some light though. The numbers of cases are not yet dropping, but they are levelling off. That means the lockdown is starting to work. Thank you all.
A new PCR testing site in Osidge is opening on 18 Jan, which is great. And 3 lateral flow test sites too.
Lateral Flow tests are quick - workers get a result in 20-30 mins. BUT they miss half. A +ve test means you should double check with a PCR test and isolate. Break the chain of transmission. A -ve test means nothing. Do not hug gran thinking you are safe.
Schools next. First of all, schools are open in Barnet. Some kids are not coming inside the buildings, but they are still getting educated. And Joe Wicks is not the nation's PE teacher. PE teachers are.
There's no doubt that there is more transmission of Covid 19 when schools are open. It is not clear if that transmission is happening in school or outside eg school bus services, at the gates. This matters because it helps work out how to make life safer for everyone. Studying it
There is reasonable evidence that nursery and primary school kids are less likely to get infected, are less infectious, and for a shorter time. Secondary school kids are more like adults. Children are often the index case - the first case in a family esp 12-16 yr olds.
Trying to keep kids and staff safe has meant lots of absences for isolation. 11% of Barnet's schoolchildren, 5247, were absent last teem for C19 reasons. 130 pupils had C19. 300 teachers and 300 support staff (around 10%) were also off for C19 reasons ie to stop spread. Image
Heads are sharing good practice together, and the council's health & safety and public health are supporting them. Opinion is shifting to more use of facemasks, although not for under 5s. Also frequent handwashing, good ventilation, respiratory etiquette (cough into your elbow)..
Physical distancing and crowd control. Heads are very good contact tracers too. Lateral flow testing has been introduced to SEN schools in Barnet and will be rolled out more widely to secondary schools soon. Hopefully it will catch a few cases (sadly, won't catch all)
As for the actual education side, this is probably the biggest challenge for schools since WWII. They did not appreciate the Govt's invitation to parents unhappy about educating at home, to complain to OFSTED. They did appreciate the 5,000 parents who contacted OFSTED with praise
Kids are entitled to an education - at KS1 - 3 hours a day, KS2 - 4 hours a day, KS 3 & 4 - 5 hours a day. Some of that will be recorded, some live, and some of that will be independent working. They should get at least a weekly check in to make sure they OK and progressing
More laptops and tablets are coming this month - Barnet is aware they need more. They are working on the lateral flow testing - having fewer kids in school will help them get to grips with this. Testing is voluntary - parents and kids need to consent. Results by text.
Early years settings can be open at the discretion of the head, but at a minimum have to be open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Some schools in Barnet are seeing 10% of children back, others up to 50%.
Staffing is a challenge - school staff are not a priority for the vaccine at the moment. Heads may need to prioritise attendance. Some schools are considering a rota (none done that yet) so they can ventilate/ clean. School budgets are very tight.
Here is how parents can help - consent to testing, volunteer to help with it, give your kids the flu vaccine, send them to school if they are vulnerable - the definition is wide, follow the rules, and become a school governor. Got that?
OK - enforcement. The Council has around 100 staff on this. They will be wearing tabards. Most are Covid monitoring officers - to explain, educate, encourage. The Covid enforcement officers are fraud investigators who collect evidence of criminal offences.
If you have any concerns about rule-breaking you can email

That's it. Know the rules, follow the rules, ask for help if you need it and take care everyone.

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More from @JuliaHines

12 Jan
Rapid community testing has now been introduced in Barnet for key workers who do not have symptoms. Thread.…
There are three sites - Colindale Library, Hendon Leisure Centre and Burnt Oak Leisure. And here comes my gripe @BarnetCouncil - you know that east-west transport links are rubbish, esp conpared to north-south. Why are all three on the west of the borough? Why not @artsdepot ?
You can book 2 tests a week if you are over 12 and cannot stay home eg work in supermarkets, construction, schools or early years, delivery, public transport. Priority to key workers. These lateral flow tests are not for people with symptoms - then you need the PCR ones.
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