Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Members of the public can join the meeting, please contact the Clerk for further details.

Contact: Karen Strahan / Stephanie Lewis  Email: / Email:

Note: o be conducted in line with The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020. To see the live stream, please copy and paste the link - 


No. Item


Notes of the Previous Board Meeting pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Additional documents:


The notes of the previous Board meeting on 10 September 2020 were endorsed.


Urgent Items from the Health Protection Board

The Director of Public Health or their representaive to report.

Additional documents:


The Director of Public Health advised that there were no urgent items for

escalation from the Health Protection Board.


The Board had its next meeting on Tuesday 13th October 2020.


Report / Presentation from the Health Protection Board

A Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data and matters for information.

Additional documents:


The Board received a Report from the Health Protection Board on current issues, data and matters for information.


The Director of Public Health gave a general overview highlighting the spike in infections in the Exeter area, essentially as a result of an outbreak in cases at the University of Exeter.


However the overall picture in the South West was still one of relatively low numbers and work had been undertaken to keep abreast of the data and tracking information as well as considering individual cases and relevant contacts. In essence, ensuring that the authority’s responsibilities under the containment framework were adhered to.


It was pleasing that the summer months saw no cases from internal tourism. The main issue had been those returning from international travel, but generally, this had been contained. The Director of Public Health said that thanks needed to be expressed for the excellent compliance of Devon people residents and communities.


With the reopening of schools, the response from both schools and parent / carers had been excellent with a real commitment to safe working and teaching.


Notwithstanding the above, there was a move towards a second phase with recorded increases in the virus. However, rises were more significant in other parts of the country with the South West still reasonably low in comparison.


The Consultant in Public Health then presented the latest information from the COVID-19 dashboard ( which again showed the rise in infections. Locally, there had been 549 cases in Devon, but no deaths in previous week.


The Board also showed the position in Exeter with 394 infections in the last 7 days and also the figures for other District areas, which although low, had started to steadily rise. In terms of Exeter, the numbers of infections were greater in the St James and Pennsylvania areas, which had a greater prevalence of student halls and residencies.


In terms of the University, cases had started to rise approximately two weeks  previous, however there was swift action by both public health and the university, in particular the HALO testing system which had given a head start to what was likely to happen. Currently there were mobile testing units at the university campus to add to the capacity already in place.


The Board stressed the importance of the dashboard being promoted more widely so that members of the public knew how to locate and access the figures and data, all of which were updated daily.


Local and National Updates

An update from the Director of Public Health or their representative.

Additional documents:


The Chief Executive highlighted that there had been lots of discussion on national position and what the next steps might be, however, the national picture was fast changing.


Proposals were being discussed to designate parts of country under different watchlist levels, potentially 3 tiers. However, the criteria were not yet known.


There could also be a number of measures to support public compliance, for example, a marshals scheme and self-isolation payments, but all remained to be seen alongside a new national framework.


Moving forward, the next two weeks were a critical time and it was hoped the local actions already taken would be sufficient enough to avoid further restrictions and / or lockdowns, particularly in the Exeter area.


Members asked questions in discussion as follows:


  • care homes, the visiting guidelines and whose decision is was to set the criteria;
  • joint working with adult social care and the daily review of the current position in care homes;
  • the potential for cross contamination, for example, cleaning contractors; and
  • correspondence with the University regarding student jobs, particularly in the care sector.


Update on the Return to Schools pdf icon PDF 111 KB

An update will be given by the Head of Education and Learning.

Additional documents:


The Head of Education and Learning (Devon County Council) presented the current position in Devon School’s following their return in September.


There were 93% of pupils attending school (the national rate being 90%) and for those with ECHP’s, the figure was 87% (the national being 84%).


The figure for those pupils with social workers was the same as above at 87%.


There were confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 15 schools in Devon and those affected schools were detailed in the presentation slides (appended to these minutes).


There were 437 pupils currently away from school due to self-isolation, which was low when compared to rest of country.


The Head of Service also reported on the new mandatory Government guidelines for schools to provide remote education for those pupils who were self-isolating.


Universities and the Return of Students

An update will be given by the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter on the work that has been done to prepare for the return to university and good practice.


Additional documents:


Professor Janice Kay (University of Exeter) briefed the Board on the actions and activities at the University to help contain the current spike in cases.


The testing regime had given ‘early eyes’ to the emerging picture and the key aim of the University’s test and trace system was protection. There were a number of protocols surrounding the ongoing work and as well as the HALO testing regime. There was a mobile testing unit at the Streatham campus and it was highlighted there was no backlog in terms of testing.


She outlined a number of key safety measures including, but not exclusively, thermometers for students as well as face masks, guidance, sanitiser products, cleaning on exit and entry points of buildings, digital induction processes, campus visits for pre-booked activity only, a student charter, personal clinical risk assessments, quarantine and self-isolation guidance and advice and mental health and welfare support.


In terms of the steps taken on campus, these included reducing traffic and congestion to allow social distancing of two metres, reductions in face to face teaching, creating additional space on campus, lengthening of the timetabled day and a maximum of 30% occupancy in the majority of places.


Other actions included 29 physical alterations such as ventilation, risk assessments, screens installed, sanitiser units, increased cleaning regimes, more online, blended with in-person teaching, masks, desks cleaned before and after classes and QR codes on desks for easy identification.


There were also a number of preventative measures for students in halls and houses as well as the additional support measures for welfare as well as practical issues such as food and laundry.


The University had an advisory group which mirrored Sage and there had been extensive discussion with both staff, trade Unions and the Students Union. The University also welcomed the engagement with other partners including the Council and Public Health.


Mr Sean McKay representing the Further Education sector echoed much of what had been said and confirmed to the Board that the organisation for return to college had been planned for many months, supporting students and striking a balance between sustainable learning but in stable and safe manner.


Community Support and Plan's

Update from the Head of Communities.

Additional documents:


The Head of Communities (Devon County Council) had circulated a briefing paper prior to the meeting which reported on the ‘Team Devon’ work to  develop, co-ordinate and (with a wider set of VCSE partners) deliver responses to combat the impacts on COVID-19 across Devon.


This group had delivered the Shielding Programme in Devon and since then had continued to work to develop plans to respond to the community impacts of potential local outbreaks, local and national lockdowns and any re-introduction of Shielding.


The group had also developed a shared Community Support Plan which would be used to co-ordinate responses in the event of significant local lockdowns or outbreaks requiring community response.


The briefing paper also focused on shielding and whilst the national Shielding programme ended for most Council areas in August, this had been extended in some areas nationally. The Council had therefore been engaged in national working groups to understand and prepare for the potential re-introduction of Shielding at either a national or local level.


The details of the Community Support Plan, alongside clarification on governance, escalation and information sources would be shared with each Town and Parish Council in Devon. Inevitably though, local plans would continue to develop as the national learning evolved and in line with Government policy.


Public Questions / Other Questions for the Board

Additional documents:


Other questions raised for the Board included the reported price of food parcels for students and also an update on the expected matrix of standing operating procedures (e.g. the response required from each Council within the community area to a set of specific circumstances and numbers of cases).


Key Messages to be Communicated

The Board and Head of Communications and Media to consider any key messages to be communicated.

Additional documents:


The Board and Deputy Head of Communications and Media considered the key messages coming from the meeting.


These included;


·         a message to the community to continue to be careful and keep up the good work;

·         remember hands, face and space;

·         keeping younger people safe and supporting their wellbeing;

·         there wasn’t any room for complacency and social distancing was the key to success; and

·         the importance of continue to work together.





Date of Next Meeting

Scheduled for 12 November 2020 @ 11.00am

Additional documents:


Members noted the date of the next meeting as 12 November 2020 @ 11.00am