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As schools limped towards Christmas, numbers of Omicron infections continued to rise and the outlook for the spring term was beginning to look decidedly uncertain. Former head teacher Michael Evans looks at some of the problems schools will now be facing in the first weeks of 2022.
Last year, typical levels of winter illnesses were not seen in schools due to Covid-19 restrictions. This winter more exposure to common viral infections means increased risk of outbreaks of the four major illnesses likely to affect school-age children: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) Influenza or flu, Norovirus, and Covid-19.
In its Make It Count campaign, the Mental Health Foundation points out that young people are currently facing unprecedented pressures which are contributing to a range of mental health problems including anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorders. It says that more than 1 in 10 children aged 10–15 say they have no one to talk to or would not talk to anyone in school if they feel worried or sad.
The risks from Covid-19 are still very much present in the workplace and it is important to remember that employers have a duty of care towards their employees to protect the health and safety of their workforce. This information is being continually checked and updated.
Storm Arwen, which hit the UK in November, has already brought extreme winter weather this year, including high winds, snow and bitter cold. It left widespread disruption in its wake, including power cuts for large numbers of people. What are the risks to schools and early years providers during the winter months and what do they have to do to ensure that everybody stays safe?
One of the major tools you can use to combat Covid transmission is ventilation in the workplace. Unfortunately, during the winter months, opening windows and doors can have a detrimental effect on working conditions. Working in a cold environment can feel unpleasant and distracting. If your workplace is too cold, it can also pose health risks.