Police investigate Covid-19 hoax surrounding Sheffield schools

A hoax about schools testing children for coronavirus is doing the rounds on social media.

Friday, 28th August 2020, 7:15 am

Police are looking into false messages circulating about schools testing pupils for Covid-19 without seeking permission from parents, and children having to be taken into quarantine if they test positive.

Sheffield Council said the misleading rumours threatened to ‘undermine the huge efforts’ schools across the city have made to reopen safely in time for the autumn term.

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A Covid-19 testing centre in Sheffield

It reassured parents that schools would always notify parents if a child falls ill at school and would never arrange a Covid-19 test without parental consent.

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, cabinet member for education and skills at the council, said: “We understand that this false message may cause serious concern and anxiety among parents and carers around sending their children back to school next week as term begins.

“The circulation of false rumours like this, undermine the huge effort schools in Sheffield have made to fully reopen in preparation for children returning to school in a week’s time. We can reassure parents and carers that all schools in our city have worked incredibly hard to make sure their educational settings are safe and ready to receive pupils.

“We would like to categorically reassure parents that the circumstances described in the rumours will never happen. Schools would always contact parents if a child became unwell at school. The school would never arrange a Covid-19 test of a child without parental consent.”

Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell, said he was confident that the ‘right arrangements’ are in place to deal with any cases of coronavirus at school.

“We would like to make it very clear that there is no substance to the circulating rumours and they bear no resemblance to what will actually happen in the event of a young person being unwell,” he added.

The council said police had been notified and are ‘treating this situation very seriously’.

If a child develops a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or test, parents are advised to keep them away from school until they are able to get a test.