Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, many lessons have been learned on how we can effectively prevent the coronavirus from spreading. In June 2020 the welsh government saw that it was safe enough for pupils to return to schools for the 6 weeks holidays and announced schools would be re-opening (after the number of cases decreased).
However, there was one virus that schools did not consider when re-opening – Legionella.
The Legionella virus is a virus that can thrive in stagnant water (usually found within pipes and taps) and in June 2020, it caused several schools in the Newport areas (South Wales) to close their doors for decontamination.
Since then, an independent review looked into the issue surrounding the affected schools in the borough of Blaenau Gwent and found significant gaps in the council’s legionella management plans.
After the review was conducted Integrated Water Services said the council’s practices did not meet current guidelines and said that more training to staff and improvements to flushing water systems would be carried out.
At a special community services scrutiny meeting, many of the councillors within the Blaenau Gwent council found the report ‘Damning’ and claimed that the authority had been ‘failing’ students and staff – with some stipulating that there was an attempted cover-up of the review. However, other counsellors disputed the claims and stated ‘No evidence to say the failure of actions by the council led to schools not re-opening”
With schools now back open for the new Autumn/Winter terms, there is growing worry that with the recent rises in Coronavirus cases in Newport and South Wales, schools will once again be closed for a long period of time and could potentially lead to failings in the testing of Legionella within school water systems.
However, in a joint statement by councillors Joanne Collins, executive member for education and councillor Joanna Wilkins, executive member for the environment, they said “ As a result, the Council commissioned an independent report in order to give us an opportunity to review and strengthen our procedures in relations to water testing going forwards
“The report found the council’s response did not put any learner or staff member at risk but has made recommendations on how processes could be strengthened going forward. We fully acknowledge the findings of this report and we will be working hard to implement the recommendations”
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