Mum's anger as taxi driver worked on school run while waiting for Covid test result

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A mum is calling for better procedures as her daughter had to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a taxi driver, who went to work after a Covid-19 test.

Ellen Wood complained to Northumberland County Council after learning her daughter’s school transport was operated by a driver who had already undertaken a coronavirus test – later learning it was positive.

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After the council-organised taxi service did not turn up on Tuesday, October 6, Ellen took Abigail, 6, to school.

Northumberland's County Hall in Morpeth.Northumberland's County Hall in Morpeth.
Northumberland's County Hall in Morpeth.

She was told on arrival that her daughter should self-isolate, later learning the driver had carried out the school run on Monday, October 5 despite having the test on Sunday, October 4.

The driver’s test was confirmed as positive on the Monday night.

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Ellen, also mum to nine-month-old Ayda, said: “You trust that these procedures are in place and at the end of the day, it’s children’s safety and their families’ safety.

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Ellen Wood is calling for better procedures to keep families safe.Ellen Wood is calling for better procedures to keep families safe.
Ellen Wood is calling for better procedures to keep families safe.

“It’s taken two weeks of her schooling away because of failures in the system.”

The council reassured Ellen it would contact the transport operator – Phoenix Taxis, Coaches & Buses of Blyth – about the driver attending work after a test, as well as clarifying protocols on whose responsibility it is to notify families of confirmed Covid-19 cases in these instances.

Abigail is due back at Thropton Village First School from Monday, October 19.

Ellen is calling for better procedures to give families confidence that things are being done “properly” and added: “Things need to be changed so it doesn’t happen again.”

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Ellen's daughter Abigail is a pupil at Thropton Village First School.Ellen's daughter Abigail is a pupil at Thropton Village First School.
Ellen's daughter Abigail is a pupil at Thropton Village First School.

A council spokesman said: “We received an email at 10.30pm on Monday, October 5 to notify us that a driver from one of our contracted school transport providers had tested positive for Covid-19.

"The information was picked up first thing the following day by our school transport team and they acted immediately to confirm the provider should not operate this route.

"They then contacted the schools to inform them of the situation and to ask the school to communicate with all parents on this school transport, regarding both the issue that had arisen and the need for the children to self-isolate.

"These actions were a precautionary approach and pre-empted any more formal test and trace processes to minimise possible contacts.

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“Our inquiries have also shown that while the driver of the vehicle received the test result on Monday night, the test was carried out on Sunday.

"We are taking this matter up further with the operator.”

A Phoenix Taxis spokesman added: “I can confirm we ensure as a company all of our vehicles comply with guidelines and advice from the NHS and our local authority.

"In addition we are committed to ensuring that all journeys are as safe as possible for staff and passengers.

“We work closely with Northumberland County Council on any home to school transport issues brought to us and we have closely followed all Covid-19 protocols provided by the council for operators.

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"The council are satisfied we have followed their guidance for operators at all times this school year and we will continue to work with them to ensure the safety of all students, drivers and other contact staff.”

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