Coronavirus back to school concerns addressed by Dr Ranj, TV doctor from Medway
Vaccination rates will play a key role in making sure children are safe from coronavirus on the return back to school, according to a Kent TV doctor.
Medway's on-screen medic Dr Ranj says he expects things to be slightly different this year and said testing and the vaccines were vital in keeping everyone safe.
The most recent data shows 87% of over 16s in Kent have had at least one jab, while 76% are fully vaccinated.
Speaking to KentOnline, he said: "Children and young people will be excited and quite rightly about going back to school.
"But things are going to be slightly different this September – less restrictions and more freedom to interact with others.
"However, there are going to be behaviours that are encouraged.
"Hand washing is still very much encouraged and increased ventilation of educational spaces, enhanced cleaning regimes which have been in place.
"We are recommending testing for groups – all teachers should be tested regularly and all secondary and college pupils should be testing regularly."
He said this was "hugely important" and advised parents and pupils to make sure to get a PCR test and isolate if they are displaying symptoms.
Dr Ranj said it was vital for people without symptoms to continue with regular lateral flow tests.
"The recommendation is for two tests when you go back to school and then test twice weekly after that," he said.
"It's really easy to do those tests and a lot of people are very used to it."
But he said the roll out of the vaccine throughout the year remains a crucial safeguard to protect wider communities from the virus, which is continuing to spread in increasing numbers.
Experts last week warned of a likely rise in cases due to schools returning but said observing hospital admissions and deaths would be key.
Dr Ranj added: "One of the big things that's changed this time around is the vaccination effort has been really successful and it's working.
"All adults will be offered two doses by the middle of September and we're recommending it to vulnerable young people and in contact with vulnerable people.
"We know that if everyone does their bit and enough people are vaccinated we can drive down rates of coronavirus and make it safe for everyone."
Addressing concerns about nerves around the return to the classroom, Dr Ranj said: "It's completely normal to feel nervous about going back to school and I know lots of parents are worried.
"It's not as if mitigations are being completely taken out.
"I think we can proceed with cautious optimism and we've got to get back to normality and get people back in school with minimum disruption."
He said the best way to find out more information is via the government website on www.gov.uk/backtoschool and said it was fine to contact schools for their specific measures to alleviate concerns.