Poor families ‘won’t be able to wash school uniforms every day’ to fight coronavirus

Parents have been advised to wash school uniforms more regularly as the virus can last longer on surfaces (Picture: Reuters)

Low-income families will struggle to afford to wash their children’s school uniforms every day in a bid to fight Covid-19, a GP has warned.

Parents have been asked to wash their children’s clothes more frequently in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, as pupils went back to school this week for the first time in almost six months.

Although young children are less at risk of catching the virus, fears have been raised that they could bring it home with them.

Coronavirus has been found to linger on surfaces for up to 72 hours, including on clothes, prompting some schools to ask parents to do more regular washing.

A senior GP has urged schools to be more lenient with uniform policies, amid concerns that disadvantaged families would struggle to pay for daily trips to the laundrette or increased energy bills.

Dr Anand Rischie, chairman of Walsall clinical commissioning group in the West Midlands, said he was ‘very much worried’ about families in his area, which he described as a ‘very poor borough’.

Pupils went back to school this week for the first time in almost six months (Picture: PA)

Birmingham Live quoted him as saying: ‘Parents will not be able to run their washing machines every day for those uniforms to be cleaned.’

He said washing clothes is key as ‘we do not know how long it takes for coronavirus to degrade’, but suggested schools could be more tolerant about children not attending in school uniform to avoid the added costs.

‘I understand that national guidance is that they should be but locally, if every parent is running a washing machine every evening to wash clothes, it is not practical,’ he told a meeting of Walsall Council’s local outbreak engagement board.

Stephen Gunther, Walsall’s director of public health, said they were working with schools and education providers to raise the issue.

Children went back to school this week with a series of coronavirus rules in place (Picture: PA)

He said: ‘It will be difficult for some parts of our community and we need to recognise that. If we are going to prevent we are might need to be flexible and tolerant around the school uniforms.’

The comments came as the majority of English pupils returned to the classroom on Wednesday with a series of coronavirus rules in place.

Desks were spaced out and some schools put up screens to allow social distancing, while pupils now have staggered start and break times.

Secondary school pupils in areas with high transmission rates will have to wear face masks in communal areas and will be attending on a ‘rota system’ to limit the number of people in at one time.

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