Hertfordshire parents do not need to be told if a school has a positive COVID-19 test

Pupils from a school in St Albans visiting the city centre.

Pupils from a school in St Albans visiting the city centre. - Credit: Archant

Parents do not have to be told by Hertfordshire schools if one of their child’s classmates tests positive for COVID-19, it has emerged.

Since the start of term, many parents have assumed that should there be a confirmed case of coronavirus within their child’s class or ‘bubble’, that they would know.

But in reality – subject to the advice of local public health teams – only close contacts of that pupil may be told to self-isolate.

Commenting on the approach, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “There is no one-size-fits-all answer to who should self-isolate if there is a case in a school.

“Schools will need to speak to the local public health team to determine who counts as a close contact in any specific case, and this will be different for different schools and different situations.

“The important point is that anyone who needs to take action (such as self-isolating or getting tested) is told to do so.

“Every school and every case is different, and schools will need to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, in discussion with the local public health team.”

Most Read

Leader of the county council’s Labour group Cllr Judi Billing, Hitchin, has branded the approach to communication “absolutely scandalous”.

“Children may live with parents with medical conditions, they have grandparents.

“Of course we have the right to know – that’s the whole point of track and trace. It cannot be right to withhold this information.”

And deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Paul Zukowskyj, Hatfield South, says he is not only “very unhappy” that parents may not be told, but that the entire ‘bubble’ would not be told to take precautionary actions.

The father of three school-age children says he is “very unhappy” that he may not necessarily be told – as the knowledge would impact on his decision to visit elderly relatives and the practice of defining close contacts within a defined bubble is itself a “serious mistake”.

“It makes me quite angry that there seems to be this belief you can decide what contact people have had in a class of 30 based on one teacher’s observations.

“I just think this is to try and keep schools viable because the government doesn’t want to go in to lockdown again. And for me its a recipe for continued transmission.”